Saturday, May 10, 2014

Extraordinary Parents

"I want us to be extraordinary parents."

That's the statement from "Charming" that kind if brought us back on track to being the parents we used to be and the parents we want to be.

Granted in essence that is what I have been saying for months but it finally dawned on him in those clear and precise words making it easier for both of us to achieve because it started accountability-- someone else reminding us of our goal, helping us to step back when tempers are short, frustration prevalent, and fatigue winning.  We even told each other to help remind us...even if maybe there is some backfire from it.  (There hasn't been since just by stating the desire to have accountability made it possible to calm down when reminded.)

See back when our first son Ralphie was born we were extraordinary parents. Not perfect of course--because no parent is perfect. But you know, we were at our best possible, I'm sure you know what I mean.  In fact we lasted that way for probably the first two and a half years...then stress became our common visitor.

"Charming" had no job for a few months in 2013, we used the little savings we had to survive, then we had to start growing debt on credit cards just to barely get by.  Finally he started a new job, but with a deep investment, a monthly loan payment that took about 75% of his monthly earnings, and a half/sort of graveyard shift.  Soon after that I got pregnant with Randy and I was to always exhausted and some where in there Ralphie hit his terrible "twos" (which I believe are actually the terrible "threes", but who's keeping track, right?) So suddenly we became these lame, tired, impatient parents I didn't recognize.  Granted we were still better than a lot of parents, but we were too tough on little Ralphie.  He was only 3 after all, but for some reason we expected so much of him that we started being tough.  Suddenly we felt like we were constantly on him about one thing or another.  Something I swore as a young person I would never, ever do.  Then we got emotionally drained from Randy's frightening birth (from which we still aren't fully recovered) and then Ralphie was too rough with Randy and crazy around him all the time and it scared us.  So we had more reasons to be "on him" constantly. Then I started working way too much and we became parents with little patience who raise they're voices.

Not cool.  In fact, it pretty much leaves me full of deep regret.

But since December we have been improving and for the past month or so we are 95% back to those parents we used to be. The ones I was proud of us being.  The ones that had no regrets, felt confident, and totted around happy kids.  We still have tough days where the boys are up all night so we are tired, or we are sick so we have no energy, or stress comes but for the most part life is better and we are better parents again.  This blog post is to help other parents, but more importantly, I think, to help me.  To remind me of what I don't want to let happen again.  No matter the stress, no matter the fatigue.

How did we do an immediate turn around in less than a month?  Well, this is how:

And we are focusing on - -- those things we should do to make us the extraordinary parents we should be.

1- Less work, more play.
I pulled back with the working-- or at least I am still trying to.  That may mean we are tighter financially.  That may mean we have less money to spend on anything besides food (which is crazy because we already had nothing).  That may mean that I often have to tell people no when they need pictures done.  But it gives me more time to spend with my family and taking care of them.  I don't have that constant nagging stress that I have an upcoming photo shoot or pictures to edit.  Seriously. It was consuming my brain so badly with stress and anticipatory anxiety that even while rocking Lance to sleep I couldn't focus on my baby.  I couldn't focus on the greatest things in my life.  Oh my life goal to be a mother--the best mother I can be.  I don't want to ever have regrets again of not spending time with my kids because I had to work when I didn't desperately need to.

2- Don't sweat the small stuff.
We don't sweat the small stuff.  Potty training has not been an easy 3.5 we really thought it shouldn't still be an issue.  But it was and still is at times.  But we've stopped getting frustrated and started rewarding for the good and just being calm for the bad.  We don't get on to him for every little thing.  Instead we talk to him when he makes bad decision and we discipline for dangerous things (like hurting little brother, or anything that is damaging or potentially hazardous in any way).  He is four.  That's all.  Four.  There is no need to expect too much of him.  He is just a baby still.  He is still young.  He should be able to be an innocent, happy child as long as possible  It's funny how when you have that second kid you realize that at 9 months it's totally ok if they are biting or gently hitting.  There is time to teach them, it doesn't need to be this big, dramatic, horrible thing.

3- Put your kids first.
We put then first again.  Let the house get messy, let my photography wait, let dinner be late.  What matters are the boys.  I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the perfect parents would be selfless.  There would be absolutely no selfishness about anything they did.  So we are working on becoming selfless.  Listening to them when they want to talk or are asking for something.  Cuddling time is essential for us and them!  Playing with them, helping them learn skills.  Teaching them.  Family home evening.  Scriptures studies.  All these things are the most important things.  We get 18 years with our kids and then they are (most likely) out of our home and onto their own lives.  I'm not going to have regrets ever again about not spending what little time I do have with them.  It's taken me weeks to write this post...and that is OKAY because I paused when they needed me for whatever it was.  I didn't get mad when I lost my entire train of thought.  It's OK.  People make too big of deals about themselves and not enough about their kids.  America would be a different place if at least 80% of a parent's life was about make their kids lives better and less about the parents wasting life away online, or just being lazy or selfish.  It's true.  But none of us are perfect at that.  None of us ever will be. It's an impossible balance...I think some days you choose one way and some the other.  And some parents are just better and balancing then others.  But like I said, no one is perfect.  But you find your perfect balance and I think you can be your most potentially extraordinary parent.

But those are the things that have helped us.  I am so happy to say we are doing so well.  Our kids are so happy.  Just purely happy and what better feeling can a parent have then knowing their kids are happy because they are trying their darndest to be "extraordinary parents".

On one last note...someone on pinterest posted a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland from a talk he gave in General Conference in 1997.  I read it and it was very comforting and inspiring to me.  So I'd like to share it here.  Whether or not you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I think it will inspire you.

"Because She is a Mother"!