Parenting · Ramblings

Balance Vs. Expectations

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Today is one of those days where I suck at adulting. Or maybe I don’t, maybe I’m balancing everything fine and my expectations are too high… or I just suck. It’s hard to tell sometimes through the sleep deprivation.

I had expectations for how today was going to play out, specifically this morning. It started last night, because as all moms know, your day begins the night before. I got a few things done and then went to bed early (for me) at 11pm. The intent was to get a good night’s rest and get up to blog at 6am. I was then going to have a SUPER productive morning, including getting a shower and going to church. I was then going to spend the day crossing off items in my to do novel (it’s no longer a list) and cap the day off with a session of yoga after the kids go to bed. That was the plan….

It’s currently 9:25am as I write this. I’m in my housecoat, unshowered and exhaused. My kitchen is a mess, my kids are coated in a light layer of pancake syrup and Paw Patrol is this morning’s lord and saviour. None of my plans have worked out, and I’m considering pouring milk on coffee beans to invent a new cereal called “Parent One”….

For whatever reason, my 4 year old couldn’t sleep last night. She kept getting out of bed and needing to pee, needing a hug, needing to talk…. She needed a drink of water, needed a different stuffed animal to sleep with (the one we couldn’t find earlier)… At around 12:30am I gave up and let her come snuggle in bed with me. She immediately snuggled in and began snoring. I know I should curb this behaviour but honestly, I love the cuddles. And I know the day is coming soon where she would rather die a thousand deaths than cuddle with her mom in bed so for now, I’m going to soak it all in. I changed the 6am alarm to 6:30 and thought I would blog for a half hour and then continue my day as planned. “I’m a parent, 6 hours is plenty of sleep!”

At 1am I awoke to a foot in my face. My romanticized “but they’re only little for such a short time!” thoughts went right out the window. I was tired. I was grumpy. I moved the 4 year old and put a pillow between us. “She can cuddle the freakin’ pillow and kick it in the face…”

At 4 am the toddler was AWAKE. Awake and annoyed at my very existence. I went in her room and rocked her for 20 minutes. Once she started snoring I put her back to bed and went to leave. I made it to the door before she let me know, on no uncertain terms, that her snoring had been fake and she had no intention of letting me leave the room without a fight. The next hour I participated in a heated philosophical debate as to the classifications of “Night” and “Day” as well as the activities associated with each. I lost. Well, I think I lost… she can only sort of talk so its anyone’s guess. I say I lost because I left the room at 5:45 after putting her lamp on and putting out some toys for her. I laid in bed for 15minutes and listened to her gleefully play. At 6am it got quiet. I peeked in her room to see her curled up on her bed snoring….

I went back to bed and turned off my alarm. “I’ll blog another day” I thought. Which is what I say to myself every day, which is why I haven’t blogged since November…. I started to drift off….

At about 6:15 am my four year old decided to flip on my bedroom light while proclaiming “IT’S DAY MOMMY!!!” before she then broke out into a song about pancakes. I panicked and convinced her to take the show downstairs, in an attempt to keep the toddler sleeping for AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. I half-napped on the couch downstairs, which, admittedly, was quite rude because of the musical that was going on. Everyone knows it’s rude to fall asleep at the theatre.

At 7am she let me know on NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that panckaes were a thing and they were going to happen. So we made pancakes, and managed to not wake up the toddler, and it was fun. And then we cuddled on the couch watching tv until her sister woke up. And I “could have, should have” gotten some cleaning done, or read to her instead of giving her screen time, or done a craft, etc…. But I was tired and defeated and in need of cuddles… I think this is called “balance” and “managing expectations”… or I’m just lazy and trying to justify it…. it’s hard to tell through the fog of sleep deprivation.

The tasmanian devil woke up at 8:15 and the whirlwind began. As such, it is now 10am and I’m still sitting here, typing at the computer. My kids are still slightly sticky, and my living room is covered in sticky fingerprints to match. In the last half hour I’ve had to leave my position at the keyboard roughly 6 times to clean up spills, kiss boo boos, referee a fight, feed the pets, celebrate a potty victory, etc… This is also why I haven’t blogged since November. Trying to type while my kids are awake is akin to carrying two aggitated goats through a china shop.

Even as I type that I know there will be an entire subset of people who are thinking “I wonder how your kids feel, having to watch you stare at a screen and ignore them!” or “why don’t you just blog when your kids are asleep?”….. And that’s when it gets tricky.
My expectation is always to get things done when my kids are asleep. I’m perpetually trying to follow a game plan. But, as this entire post points out, adult expectations mean little to children under 5 years of age. I can expect that my kids will sleep through the night, every night, that I will get a full night’s sleep, that I will get a certain amount done before breakfast, I can expect to have a productive day… I can expect a lot from myself and my kids… and then ultimately become defeated and resentful when my expectations aren’t met. Don’t get me wrong, I have very strong expectations of my kids as far as their behaviour, how they treat people, their manners, etc… but they are 2 and 4 years old. They aren’t mini adults, and they need a ton of guidence. Gentle guidence takes a lot more time than screaming and spanking unfortunately. I’d probably get a lot more done in a day if I did a lot of screaming and spanking instead of what I’m currently doing… but that my friends is another post for another day. Personally, the screaming and spanking just doesn’t work for this mama. As in, my kids’ behaviour gets worse, not better. If it works for you, great. Have at it. Don’t send me hate mail please.

So what to do? I’ve adapted to just go with the flow as much as I can. To try to balance my expectations with reality. The reality is that my kids are under 5 and are not mini adults. The reality is I have to balance my needs with theirs. They needed me a lot last night. I wanted to sleep and have a productive day, but they needed me to hold them and cuddle them and talk to them at ungodly hours when I just wanted to freakin’ sleep.
So I decided to forgo a few things on my to do novel today to get this blog done, because I really wanted to write. My kids were VERY untinterested in letting me sit here any type, but I pressed on. There’s two perspectives on this one. There’s the “I can’t believe your poor children are being ignored and are forced to watch you stare at a screen!” perspective, and there’s another perspective. Sometimes I think its OK for my kids to understand that I’m allowed to do something for myself occasionally. That mom will play that game in a little bit, but right now I’m doing this other thing. I think its good for them to learn to work things out on their own sometimes, and that its not my job to entertain them 24/7. Personally, I think it does kids a diservice to send them off to kindergarten with the expectation that the adult in the room is going to give them 100% of his/her attention whenever they demand it, and that they won’t ever need to figure things out on their own. I think its good practice to encourage them to play amongst themselves while I type this, I think its a good balance…. but I could just be lazy and neglectful… again, its hard to tell through the fog.

What’s hard is that there is a subset of women (yes women, I’ve yet to find a man who does this) who will always brag about how little sleep they need/needed when thier kids were little. Whenever I attempt to have a conversation along the lines of “oy vey, kids! They just don’t want you to sleep at all hey!?” I am greeted with two kinds of responses. The first is the one that makes me feel so much better, it’s the mom who says “OMG I know what you mean! Mine were up 6 times last night. I got maybe 3 hours and I’m exhausted! We’re ordering pizza tonight, Mama’s tired!” The second one makes me feel less great, a lot less great. It’s the woman who says “I don’t know what you mean. I rarely sleep more than 4 hours. I just don’t need anymore than that, I have too much to do.”……. I’ll just go over here and mentally beat myself up because I require at least 6 hours of sleep to be at my best. Damn these human needs of mine. Its hard when you go into a conversation EXPECTING solace and are met with judgment. It’s something that I think happenes to moms of young kids often. Again, forgoing the expectations is probably the best idea.

This day isn’t going at all how I’d planned. It’s after 10am now and this blog was supposed to be finished by 7am. Essentially, I’m three hours behind. But, I feel rejuvinated because I got to write, and my kids are happy and sticky with bellies full of pancakes, coming off a long night full of cuddles from mom. I’m probably only going to get about 3 things done on my to do novel today, and that’s ok. As much as I want to hold on to my expectations, balance is more important.
Have to run now, an Elsa wearing bumblebee wings just wizzed past me. Wishing you all a balanced week ahead, with only minimal expectations. xo

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