Being a parent can be hard. It’s exhausting, relentless and it can be, dare I say, boring. Although being a parent is wonderful most of the time, I think every parent at some time or another has wished for a sunny beach, peace, quiet and preferably a margarita in hand! But I’ll tell you a little secret that parents of little ones don’t know or even have time to think about….it does change and get easier; almost overnight and then you will miss those challenges with all your heart. The hurdles that we face as parents are only stages in our lives and we need to let them go to fully appreciate the parenting journey. Because of course, a journey always has its ups and downs.
I vividly remember my son going through ‘the yelling phase.’ Basically, he yelled in the night when he wanted something! It could be a drink, a biscuit, a cuddle, a story, a banana (yes, really!) a new toy….just anything so that he could get our attention. The thing was totally irrelevant but because we had another child that we were frightened would wake up, we tended to go into his room as quickly as possible. This meant one of us was ‘on stand by’ throughout the night and we were exhausted. Of course, we could have left him to cry and yell but for an easier life and because we were not entirely sure he was awake half the time, we got up and went to him. He was only about 2 after all. This became part of my night time thing and I used to dread it. I remember thinking that I couldn’t possibly be this tired and still function. It was awful. And then, one night, it stopped. He slept through without the yelling! Could we be this lucky and have a whole nights sleep? He never yelled out in the night again and this phase in our parenting journey was over, just like that.
When my daughter was about 6 she would not want to go to sleep. We tried the usual stories, milk, teeth, bed routine that had always worked. We tried extra cuddles, we tried rewarding her with a sticker chart and we tried telling her off. Nothing seemed to work. There would always be a reason for her coming down….’ur I can’t sleep….I need a drink….mummy can I just tell you something……ur can I have a grape?’ The ‘Can I have a grape?’ became a family joke but this stage went on for about a year. Yes, a whole year of her coming down in the late evening as she couldn’t get to sleep. Then one night, it stopped. As quickly as it began, it was over.
I think what I’m trying to say is that the challenges you are facing right now will soon be done. The ‘problem’ that exhausts you or makes you despair will one day be over. Whether it be a fussy toddler that makes you cry with frustration because they will only wear red or the child who lives off fresh air because they never seem to eat a meal. Whether it be the child who refuses to sleep in their own bed or the child that will not settle in the morning at school. These are all challenges at the time but one day, they will stop and life moves on. Children grow and change whilst us parents try to adapt to the changing direction that parenting takes us.
So when your son asks you not to get stressed when he accidently breaks the window of your Greenhouse by launching a hockey ball down the garden, pause, take a breath and smile. He doesn’t remember the 3 DS games, the new Hoover, the car radio or the countless TV remotes that he broke as a destructive toddler. Those were our challenges as parents so let them go and move on. One day, I shall remind him of the Greenhouse window and hope it will become a family story to remember and retell rather than a challenge to overcome.