Parenting is everything at once.
All the conflicting emotions, clashing priorities, neverending but ever-changing responsibilities, and constant, continuous testing of our patience, our morale, and our principles.
“Pick your battles” is one sentence I have said to myself the most since I became a parent, along with “pivot”. Do you know what I mean, fellow parent?
How many times have you collided with and very nearly fallen on your newly crawling baby who magically appeared at your feet when 2 seconds ago they were in a different room? Or the toys that roll to your feet just as you step sideways to retrieve something out of a cupboard?
You just never, ever know what you’re in for until you’re looking after a child for a long period of time.
I argue even my husband, who is home most of the time because of Covid, still doesn’t know what I go through day in day out to get shit done with my 28-month-old in tow. I don’t think he understands the minute details of getting the piles of laundry done or cooking a meal from scratch when your son is begging you for attention or doing something he’s not supposed to — and how much it affects the rest of your day.
He doesn’t underestimate the toll it takes on me, by any means, but he just doesn’t have the struggles that I do. It’s not something I hold against him, but it needs pointing out that even other parents don’t always see what fellow parents go through.
So it’s no wonder how the childless don’t get it. It’s no surprise when they feel underwhelmed by the fact we got somewhere on time with clean clothes on.
I’ll Take The Small Wins, And You Should Too
But let me tell you, the small victories are what makes us get through each day. They are not to be taken for granted.
Because you’ve been through the mud. You’ve been sleep deprived — an official form of torture, FYI. Your identity has shifted. Your priorities have changed. You don’t love others less, you simply love your children more.
When you’re having the worst time. When you’re not sleeping, when your baby can’t tell you what’s up. But the doctor’s checkup goes well and he confirms your baby is gaining weight healthily.
When you haven’t eaten or showered today, but you and your baby fall asleep together to the sound of water on your white noise app.
When you feel guilty, because every mother feels guilty about something, but your toddler runs up and cuddles you tight for no reason.
We can choose to focus on the little battles we go through every day. Or we can choose to think a little bit extra about the small, precious moments where we felt good.
“You keep all these victories in a little box inside you. They’ll be your most prized possessions. “— Alfre Woodard in Fatherhood
They are what makes us resilient. They are what make us super-human. They are what makes it all worth it.
That’s What We Live For
Life is full of those small wins. Every single day something good happens, and it is up to us to think about them and cherish them. It is what will push us through each sleep-deprived day. It is what will teach our kids to become resilient and also look positively at their past, present, and future.
When you cry in the bathroom because you miss your baby on your first day back at work, but she smiles at you as you pick her up from daycare.
When your partner plates your dinner up and kisses you on the forehead as he takes his turn in soothing your crying baby after a long-ass day battling colic.
When you constantly question whether what you’re doing is right, but then your child says “please” and “thank you” when he asks for a second helping of your homemade food.
When your kid just won’t eat your go-to meal and proceeds to throw it on the floor, testing your anger management skills — but he falls asleep in 30 seconds flat at bedtime and the prospect of a relaxing evening opens up.
When you struggle to take care of the logistical and practical issues of parenting, like getting out of the house on time, but damn, that mid-afternoon coffee tastes good.
In the end, life is full of small occurrences, some of which are mundane, and some of which are exciting.
We can choose to magnify our problems, or we can choose to zoom in on our little rays of light that shine through each day. In the end, it’s what we will look back on nostalgically as life speeds past.
You hear your parents or grandparents look back on the good old days and you roll your eyes, but you’ll be glad to remember those good times when you’re their age. Just remember to enjoy them as they happen, too.
Tired momma, I’ve got you. Tested father, I hear you. Fellow parents, you’ve all had it tough, as have I.
But there is always, no matter what, something good happening, and it is the little things that will push us forward. Let’s take the time to focus on accumulating those good moments and being OK with the hard ones, for we would not see the good without the bad.
Take the stress out of gratitude and maximise its endless potential so that you can be the best version of yourself — your kids will thank you.
Take the small wins, because they’re what make the biggest impact.
Previously Published on medium
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