Tuesday, October 26, 2010

parenting while pregnant

This week has me all mixed up. Yesterday I kept thinking it was Tuesday already. Today I keep thinking it's Wednesday. This could make for a long week...

I don't like what pregnancy is doing to my parenting.  I am short on energy and patience, two things that are fairly essential when dealing with a toddler, especially when you are trying to practice gentle discipline.  I go from calm, happy mommy to crabby mommy in the matter of seconds, and immediately feel bad because he deserves better than that (and so do I) but it doesn't always feel like I can help it.  So I lose my cool more often, and also resort to parenting "shortcuts" like TV more often... though then also discover that these "shortcuts" also tend to come back and bite you in the ass a lot of the time.  For example, this morning D was clinging to my belly (literally-- he was following me around, keeping one hand on my belly) so I figured I'd buy myself an hour of peace and quiet by letting him watch TV, while I got to eat breakfast, get dressed, and get ready for our morning outing without an external toddler attachment.  It was nice, but was it worth the massive tantrum he then threw when it was time to turn off the TV and get in the car?  I don't know.  I also know that so much of how positive or negative our interactions are depends on how I react to him.  Nothing is ever 100%, and sometimes tantrums happen no matter what I do, but I can also head off many of them if I take the time to answer him or redirect his attention in the right way, but that usually takes patience and forethought and when I'm short on those I just snap at him instead and it all spirals downward from there.

I know this is temporary.  Just last night I was remembering how I haven't always been like this, how I used to have more patience with D.  As the birth starts to feel more imminent (and less like some far-off event in the future) that, the temporary nature of our situation as it stands right now, is becoming more real.  At the same time, it's not like the time/energy/patience issues are going to get much better after the birth... at least for a while.  I worry about these missed opportunities with D right now (6 months of crappy parenting doesn't seem like that long, except that it's a  pretty significant chunk of time when you're only 2.5 yrs old), and about bad habits that we form (like relying on TV for entertainment/breaks) that may be hard to break later when I don't need as much of a crutch.

One wonderful thing is that Zach has been great at picking up the slack any time he can.  He does his share (and more) of the household chores, and he makes a point of taking D off my hands when he can.  On Sunday he spent the morning going to the farmer's market and grocery shopping (and ok, he did also go shopping for snow shoes...) and then when he got home, despite desperately wanting a nap, he instead loaded D up in his rain gear and took him outside to splash in the rain and puddles.  He's also made it clear that, especially during this late-pregnancy/newborn transition period, childcare help is a priority and worth spending money on even at the possible expense of the rest of our budget.  This is a huge help to me, as those breaks are/will be wonderful and something I would otherwise feel guilty for "indulging" in.  I love the 2 mornings D spends with Arjun and their nanny, as a) it gives me a break and time to get other things done, and b) I know he's getting a full morning of fun, active, outdoor playtime with a very fun caretaker and little friend.  It's a win-win.

I heard someone once say that the great thing about kids is you always get a second chance-- each new day, each moment, is a new opportunity.  I can't change what I did yesterday, but I can try to handle things better today.  So, my goals here-on forward are to be realistic with myself, and try to take each encounter as it comes and know I can also do better next time.  One silver lining is that each time I lose my cool is an opportunity to then apologize and model for D how to gracefully admit and accept your mistakes.  And so, I keep trying, and hope I'm not screwing my kid up too much in the process.  ; )

10 comments:

  1. love your last paragraph, each day is a second chance. I need to remember this more often when I get down on myself at losing patience.

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  2. almost exactly what we went through today. at least I'm not alone.

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  3. A story for you:

    A few days ago I was reading blogs (not surprising) and my mom came in and started reading over my shoulder. I clicked to your blog and she recognized Donovan from when I showed her your page a couple years ago. She gasped and said "That's Cristina's nephew, right? He is just as beautiful as my babies were. I am in awe that his life is so well documented. That is so awesome." Then she spent a few minutes looking at some pictures and reading stories. "What a wonderful mother!"

    from my mom? 4srsly- great compliment :P

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  4. I need to rescind my comment, now that I know you have a nanny part time. Really? You can't handle a 2.5 year-old and being pregnant? How are you ever going to handle a new born and your other child.
    I've been irritated about this all day and now I'm getting it off my chest and I'm done with it. And to think I was excited about finding your blog.
    (and yep that was me on twitter today, I'll unfollow you, no worries there)

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  5. Jen P needs to get her head out of her a$$.

    How does she feel about working Moms? My 15 month old son is in daycare 8 hours a day 5 days a week. It kills me that I have to be away from him for so long. My husband and I both work outside the home as we cannot afford to live otherwise.

    I only have one child and I can only imagine how hard it would be to keep up with him if I was also pregnant. They say it takes a village but not everyone has the village on hand. Our family lives far away so we have no extra help that we do not hire for ourselves.

    You are doing a great job. You have a beautiful and normal family. You are doing the best with what you have, just like everyone else.

    How dare Jen P say those things. Bloody internet - makes people a$$holes.

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  6. Thanks for your honest post. I loved it. I also have childcare help, and I am not pregnant, and sometimes I can't cope with my one child. Every parent and every child and every situation is different (obviously!). Jen is entitled to her opinion, but her judgment of your situation, not so much.

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  7. (Word verification: dumhsh. Add an "it" at the end of that, and you have a summary of Jen P's comment.)

    Parenting IS HARD. Pregnancy IS HARD. You're going through both of those at the same time. IT CAN SUCK.

    The fact that you are lucky enough to have a place to drop D off for a couple of hours a day two days a week ("part-time" is a very open time frame) does not mean that your life is now peachy-keen. It just means that for a few hours a day, you are not the only sole person responsible for D and the only sole person in charge of meeting his needs. FOR A FEW HOURS two or three days a week.

    Maybe someone should let Jen P know that not every toddler is exactly the same. Some are more challenging than others. Same with pregnancies -- every woman experiences pregnancy differently. No one woman has a right to tell another woman what she should or should not feel like during pregnancy, or what she should or should not be able to handle or manage during pregnancy.

    Everyone is entitled to her own opinion, but telling someone how her body and mind are reacting to pregnancy is not "an opinion," it's severe pig-headedness and misogyny.

    I'm going to stop now. Ugh. Where do people get the nerve? What's wrong with people like this? So much hate. So much self-hate, which then gets vented out to innocent bystanders... She has these expectations for herself, and she's likely not meeting them, so instead of taking it out on herself that she can't meet the expectations she feels others put on her, she takes it out on others, forcing those same unrealistic expectations on others.

    You're a great mom. D is two handfuls and a half. Pregnancy sucks.

    *hugs*

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  8. I totally agree with everyone else. There is nothing wrong with having help and you need a good support system. Plus you live in a new area with zero family or friends around. It is not nice to be judgemental of others.

    Having read some of Jen P tweets I find that this one explains a great deal about her own situation:

    @jmparme
    Leaving the house without my children to go on a date with DH. First time since the monkeys were born, almost 2.5 years ago.
    24 Oct via Twitter for iPhone

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  9. of course, everything that I was going to say, Cristina already said- only she put it way more eloquently than I probably would have. Plus her word verification is like...5 times as hilarious as mine. So I will just say: agreed.

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  10. Anonymous1:52 PM

    I actually second Jen P's comment. How the heck are we going to handle two kids Honey? I mean - really - how? I've been having second thoughts about the second kid... and maybe the first - Hubby

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