I wanted to create a place for parents to say “I’m struggling every day. Anyone with me?” But I also want to remember –
I am a parent. I love my child. She cracks me up. She brings me joy every day.
My husband and I attended a parenting conference this weekend. He absolutely loves when I sign him up for this kind of thing.
But I know we both gained some valuable insight. One of the analogies that has stuck with me this week is the idea of bringing home a jar full of marbles (936 to be exact) with your newborn.
Every week, sometimes it feels like every hour, we run in to parenting situations that make us feel like we are literally losing our marbles.
When will they sleep? When will they grow out of this stage? Where did they learn that? When will they grow up? Where did that attitude come from?
But we are literally losing our marbles. Each marble represents a week that we get with our child before they leave home at eighteen (give or take a few marbles). With each week we lose one more opportunity to influence, to love, and to mold our children.
The analogy reminds me that the time with my child is not infinite. Though, the hours can certainly feel that way. It is human and honest to admit my child is driving me crazy. I just don’t want to let myself forget to value the chaos and memories we have together now.
Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year. But as parents we make it complicated.
My daughter will be (almost) two this Christmas. This is a magical time.
*The Elf on the Shelf does not exist yet, HOORAY!*
I’m still debating if I can bypass that all together.
*She does not care about the cost, or size, of presents. Though, there are bonus points if the present comes with bubble wrap to pop.*
*And she is content to read the Christmas Story of Baby Jesus night after night.*
Christmas with young kids really does provide an opportunity for a low-key, joy-filled time of year. But as parents we make it complicated. We have this guilt if the holidays are too simple. Like if it’s easy, we are some how letting our kids down. We HAVE to be all stressed out like all the other parents, or we must be doing it wrong.
WRONG. Stop it, just stop it. It’s not true.
Let me expose my “low-bar” holiday excitement, in hopes that it will let other parents see that it’s ok to keep it simple.
This here is the FREE Santa.
Last year we took her to the mall for photos with Santa. I was shocked to find out that they wouldn’t let you snap a few pics with your own camera. The cheapest option was a $30 digital file of the photos they took. Honestly, if it weren’t for my husband, we would have left with zero photos. Thirty dollars?! That’s a whole lot of Christmas cookies for Santa!
So this year I did a little research. There was a free Santa at the local garden store. You could take all your own pictures. There was also a photographer there selling pictures, but it was optional.
Yes, they were still thirty dollars. Apparently that is the going rate for Santa pics in Orange County. But we were happy with the pictures we took on our own camera, and our daughter was delighted when Santa gave her a Christmas bell. She has been playing with that free “magic reindeer bell” for days!
You know what I’m most excited to give my child this year? Two white, ceramic bunnies. I found them in the Target Dollar Spot.
They are essentially glorified yard ornaments, and I can’t wait to see my daughter’s face when she opens them and starts petting them, and talking to them, like they are her new BFF’s. You see, every time we walk the neighborhood, she stops to talk to all of our neighbor’s yard trinkets…bunnies, snails, ducks, cats, gnomes. *Spoiler* That is how you know you don’t live in the young, hip ‘hood, when ALL your neighbors have yard ornaments. But my daughter loves them!
The other thing she is sure to go wild for is the popcorn in her stocking. Pop Pop is her jam!
Sure, there are other things under the tree this year. Honestly mostly from family. We are grateful to have generous people in her life. But on our end, we really did limit things to just a few gifts. Three fun things, two needs things, and a book.
Young kids truly love simple pleasures. I assume this period only lasts for so long, so I’m not going to feel any guilt about embracing it while I can. Don’t burden yourself with other parents false expectations that the holidays must be stressful. It’s ok to set that bar low. Your child won’t notice what they didn’t get. What they will enjoy is that you are more happy when you are spending time with them.
If you still need a good laugh to help alleviate the stress, try writing “From: Mom and Dad” on a gift without feeling old. That one about blew my mind when I was wrapping presents.
OMG, we are THE Mom and Dad. Um, When did that happen? Did anyone approve this?
Single Moms Planet Exclusive Interview with Author J.K. Coy
I already know the number of daily faults and failures I make as a parent, and I don’t even have to do it all myself. I have a very supportive and involved, other half, which I am grateful for.
But I was thrilled when Single Moms Planet asked me to sit down with them for an exclusive interview, because these ladies are my heros. Their motto is Helping Single Moms, Help Themselves. Now these are some strong and powerful women.
We discussed how to do it all as a parent (or NOT), how to write your first book, and what #girlpower lessons I want my own little chica to learn.
It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!” or “Not good enough Mama.”
From the moment I came home from the hospital, I felt like something was missing.
I was given a perfect little human, but no extra set of hands. And my perfect little human wanted to be held ALL THE TIME.
It didn’t take long before the resentment crept in. All I wanted was to take a shower, clean-up, cook something, rest. But now I wasn’t even capable of brushing my teeth without getting screamed at. It was like my little human had turned in to a boss I couldn’t please, always yelling, “FASTER!” or “Not good enough Mama.”
Just a few weeks prior I was a highly functioning adult in the corporate world, making things happen. Now remedial tasks were crippling.
This drove my sleep deprived self in to a crazy self-loathing state. I like to say I wasn’t fully depressed because I didn’t take drugs to heal it, but that was a lie I used to try to feel better about myself. I felt bad for not getting anything done. And I felt incapable of managing things I used to do with ease.
Very slowly I did adjust to my new world and I started to enjoy Motherhood more. I still didn’t love myself, and all my new glaring inabilities, but the never-ending love I felt for my baby was there.
And one day, when my perfect human was about three months old, I got the blessing of her falling asleep in the car at the gas station. I finally had two hands free. I was instantly inspired. My brain felt so clear and focused for the first time in forever.
I began to jot down the parental tale that had been swarming around in my head since my human arrived.
She even slept long enough for me to sketch out a picture of a little monster.
That night I shared the story with my husband. He lovingly said I should publish it. It could have been an encouraging yet fleeting comment, but I decided he was right.
How many other new parents were feeling like we were? How many people were sharing social media posts of their perfect little humans and secretly feeling inadequate and confused behind the scenes? How many new parents were feeling bad because they thought they must be strange for feeling completely frustrated by their perfect little human?
Love You to Pieces, Beautiful Monster is an inclusive tale for new parents (or soon to be parents). No one should feel alone as they adjust to parenthood. The book is full of truth, humor, and adorable illustrations to entertain those little monsters. Get it for yourself, gift it to a friend.
We are all in this together. Figuring it out, minute by minute. Failing, and trying again.