It's a joyful time...you announce your expecting a baby and everyone is all a twitter with stories and advice about making it through the first few sleep deprived weeks (which I have to say we never really experienced because we have the most awesome children EVER), how to sooth sore nipples from nursing, the separation anxiety of going back to work, the gassy tummies, runny noses, aversion to the introduction of veggies, sore gums of teething, 2-yr-old temper tantrums (again, a non-issue in our family) and a whole list of issues that goes along with the first few years of learning your new role as parent.
I loved mothering babies.
Up until recently parenting has always felt naturally organic and instinctual.
Parenting doesn't feel quite that way anymore.
Protecting the innocence of a 3 year old is so much easier than that of a 10 year old. At 3 your child's world revolves around you. (And, let's be honest, her favorite snuggly.) They readily accept the rules that have been set with the intention of keeping them safe, teaching them polite social behaviors, and fostering inquisitive creativeness. At 10, the rules are still acknowledged, but more explanation of WHY they exist is often desired. The opinions of friends, and to a lesser extent hormones, are so much more of an influence these days the younger perspective during discussions about why we have certain rules in our family. It's a soft step towards more independence, but still a step.
Deciding which friends' houses are safe for a sleepover. Wondering if choosing not to have my kids involved in sports activities at a young age will negatively affect them later on (if they choose) as we appear to live in a community someone is labeled as "athlete" or "non-athlete" at a very early age. Rethinking every constructive criticism, wondering if it will trigger growth or stifle free self expression. These are the worries my Mommy brain wrestles with these days. It all makes me yearn for the days when one of my biggest daily worries was making sure I scheduled activities in a way that didn't disrupt nap time.
Raising two girls, in a community that still feels so new and full of strangers, having a bit of control issue, and no being very good about sharing the load of making decisions, all contributes to feeling like I'm shouldering a ever increasing load. I know I'm not alone, yet my worry can often feel very lonely.
I'm so thankful for the support of those around me who also hold my girls very near and dear to their own hearts. My loving husband. My amazing Mom. Friends who are going through these same new experiences with their own growing girls. Friends and family who can offer up words of encouragement having already moved through this stage of parenting. (I'm starting to think it takes a village to raise kids cause someone's gotta keep the Mommas sane through it all.)
One of the things people rarely tell you as an expecting Mom is how from the moment your child is born, and forever there after, you live with a piece of your heart living outside your body. It is both an amazingly joyful and completely terrifying experience. Parenthood definitely has a disproportionate amount of on the job training. Right now I'm just trying to do my best to keep up with the newly released training info...