Parenting, It’s Not Supposed to be Easy.

Last night my husband and I stayed up to late watching television.

We never stay up late. Our bedtime has routinely become 9 pm or even earlier, especially on nights that we are both completely and utterly exhausted.

Last night though, we stayed up to late. First we watched our show. Then we decided to stay up and watch Captain Phillips. We have seen it before, but thought “what the heck. Our daughters are great sleepers. They are in bed. Tomorrow is Saturday. We can sleep in.” I’m sure God was laughing at me.

Our daughters are typically in bed between 7-8 pm.

Yes, I am that Mom. The one who believes in the supreme importance of a decent bedtime for children. I have seen first hand with my own children that sleep begets sleep. The earlier they go to bed, the longer they sleep in. The later they go to bed, the earlier they wake up. It’s absolute insanity. But it is the truth.

So last night when we hit the sack, I seriously believed I wouldn’t have to wake up again until this next morning. I had been asleep for maybe 30 minutes when a tiny voice woke me up. “Mommy. My legs are cramping.” I ushered our oldest into bed and Daddy went to get the ice pack.

Our 5 year old is almost 4 foot tall. She grows at a rapid pace. Every few months it seems she is in the middle of a growth spurt, with her legs cramping. It typically lasts a day or two.

Daddy inevitably grabbed the wrong ice pack. When I returned with the correct ice pack, my girl and I snuggled for all of ten minutes.

Then the restlessness began.

I liken co-sleeping with my oldest daughter to trying to sleep with a fish caught in a net. So much flopping. flipping. turning. jerking. tumbling.

I honestly don’t know how other families co-sleep. I cannot do it. I do not like anyone touching me while I’m sleeping. The wiggling keeps me awake. After about an hour, I decided I had enough of B squirming, of opening my eyes to see her staring at me, and of my hair getting caught under her as she tossed and turned.

“Baby girl, I think you would really be more comfortable sleeping in your own bed.” I whispered.

“No I like it here.” She whispered back.

“Okay sweetie, Mommy cannot sleep with all your wiggling. I am going to go sleep on the couch.”

After five minutes, I was settled on the couch, about to drift away.

“Mommy.” I heard. “I am going to go back upstairs. you can go back to your bed.” 

I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

My husband slept through the whole thing.

It never fails. When I stay up late, those are the nights my children wake up in the middle of the night, needing me. When we have to be out of the house at a certain time, those are the times my children are lackadaisical.

It. Never. Fails.

But thus is Parenting. Right?

Raising children is not easy. It is not a walk in the park. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

Yesterday, my two year old, refused to put on a diaper. She thinks she is ready to be a big girl.

Yet, she will not touch the potty. No matter how much I try to bribe her. So she wants to run around in big girl panties. Without the effort of learning to use the potty or listening to her body. That is why I know she is not ready. But stubborn that girl is. So I let her wear big girl panties.

It lasted all of 10 minutes.

Until she had an accident on our kitchen chair, during lunch. All chaos ensued. With four little girls talking or crying at the same time and me trying to pry my two year old off the chair so I could clean the pee off of her and the chair. That stubborn two year old wanted to keep those sopping wet panties on. She screamed, cried, and kept pulling them up. Of course I said no and I was finally able to pull them off of her. I gave her the option of a diaper or more panties. Thankfully she said diaper.

I really didn’t feel like wiping up more pee. I clean up enough bodily functions during the day with four kids and three animals running around.

Her accident reminded me a great deal of parenting.

Think about it.

Often times during Parenting we want to hold on so tightly to something, that we know we need to let go of, for the betterment of ourselves and our children. I don’t know what that may be for you, but I know that every parent has to make a decision to let go of something. In my daughter’s case it was gross, wet panties.

Last year for my family, it was extra income, so I could stay home with my kids and home school them. Has it been difficult? You better believe it. Living on one income is not a piece of cake. It takes dedication, budgeting and a whole lot of prayers. But we do it.

For other people it may be giving up expectations of your children. It could be giving up sleep so you can spend more time with your kids, spouse or even more time in prayer. For others it may be sacrificing the big house and fancy car for a smaller one so that you can spend more time with your kids and less time at work. Maybe it is expectations of yourself as a parent or spouse. Or expectations of your spouse as a parent and partner.

Whatever it may be, it’s possible to let go. It is possible to parent without the expectations you set on yourself.

Here is the thing about parenting.

It’s messy.

It’s hard.

It’s frustrating.

Parenting is also rewarding.

And fun.

And such a blessing.

Parenting is worth it.

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