I have officially kept a human being alive for 2 1/2 years. I know, big feat right? But seriously, in my eyes, that’s pretty amazing.
Motherhood is by far one of the most interesting experiences you will ever have in your life. I’ll never forget the day Justin and I found out that we were expecting. You get filled with all of these emotions and this whole world flashes before your eyes. For nine months you constantly think of this little being inside of your body that will eventually make it’s way into the world and become a human being of worth (we hope!).
I remember making all of these plans, all of these visions for the future. I was determined to be that perfect “Pinterest” mom. You know, the one who diligently photographs her child with cute little props every month, the one who creates all sorts of fun and interesting activities to take up the free time. The mom who cooks and cleans and is creative and fun, but at the same time steadfast and sturdy as a parent should be. I had so many plans.
And then there we sat, March 3, 2013 with this tiny little baby in our arms. We were both so high on emotions everything was a blur. This beautiful little being that we had created was so perfect and so terrifying all at once. I just remember being so elated with our lives and our little family.
Jacob was a calm baby. So calm in fact that Justin and I could hardly believe he was ours (were both very hyper/active people). Jacob was an observer, he would just sit for hours watching everything we did. But once he was able, he was also quick to get involved. Sitting up on time, crawling and climbing like crazy, and finally walking. When he turned one we realized we were in for it. Jacob was turning out to be just as active as we were, and then some.
I tried to be Pinterest mom. I really did. I’ve never had much of an eye for DIY creativity, but I figured I could make up for my lack of DIY skills with my love, stability, cooking skills and by researching everything I possibly could about how babies/children learn. I enrolled him in an organization called Parents as Teachers so that once a month we would have an instructor come into our home and help us navigate the waters of parenting/teaching Jacob. (PAT has been such a blessing.) We began teaching him sign language, which he picked up on very quickly and that helped break down so many communication barriers for Jacob and Justin.
It became very apparent, very quickly that we had a little smarty pants on our hands. I do credit some of it to the sheer fact that I ensure he is learning. At 2 1/2 he can identify most of his numbers between 1-13, he usually knows his colors (he likes to play games…lol). He can for the most part sing his ABCs and even identifies letters on a regular basis. He is one of the most observant 2 year-olds I’ve ever met.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have normal 2 year old struggles. He is also incredibly defiant and stubborn just like both of his parents. See, while I am so busy trying desperately to be the prefect Pinterest mom I have to remind myself that its a feat in itself for me to even still have custody of him.
Abuse is a cycle, and its one I’ve been determined to break. I was in foster care before I was ever even a year old, so when Jacob turned one, as sad as this may sound to people who grew up in normal homes, I was ecstatic. I had a mini celebration with myself because as of that moment I had officially broken this cycle of abuse. And now at 2 1/2 the broken cycle is definitely no more.
That’s not to say that I don’t struggle. Because I do. I’m beginning to understand that most parents have a love/”omg wtf was i thinking” relationship with their children. There are times when (and yes, I’m going to admit this, any honest person would) I would just as soon chuck the child out the window and move on with life. But we all know that isn’t an option, and even if it were I could never in a million years do as such. But see, my impulses go one step further.
I was raised with spankings, slaps, pushes, pinches, bites, etc. I was raised to believe that discipline was either violent, or monotonous chores, and if I didn’t do those chores there was sometimes violence involved to get me jump-started. So my first reaction when Jacob acts out is to hit. There was a month or two there where my stress levels were so high that I found myself swatting Jacob more than necessary and having no patience with him at all.
I’m honestly so ashamed to admit that. To admit that I’ve lost my temper enough with him that I did pre-emptively spank him. And then one evening, as I was putting Jacob back in bed for probably the 20th time that night, he looks me dead in my eye and says:
“Mommy, don’t be mad. Please don’t scream and spank me. I’m sorry.”
God, just writing this now makes me want to cry. My heart broke right there and I realized that I had indeed been losing my temper too much. I was relying on a quick swat to get my point across when in reality what he needed was stability, understanding and consistency. I was reverting back to how I was raised instead of thinking through the situation and using the tools I’ve learned as an adult to handle them.
Being a parent is never easy. Being a parent when you come from an abusive background is practically mind boggling. I can’t begin to express how much PAT has helped me to navigate these waters with ease. Don’t get me wrong, I still lose my temper. We all do, we all will. But it’s definitely how we deal with those moments when we realize that were wrong that defines who we are as parents.
I am no Pinterest mom. I’ve come to terms with this. My house isn’t perfect, I don’t have DIY crafts all over the place or expertly created gifts from scratch. I don’t have all of the answers either, hell some days I can hardly believe I’m 26, married and the parent of a 2 year old.
But I am loving, caring, and understanding. I do try to teach my child as much as I possibly can about this world and to be a good role model. I’m going to make mistakes, aren’t we all?
To this day I am so terrified that I am going to damage him for life. I’m so scared of losing control. I am determined to continue my cycle-breaking and to be the absolute best parent to that child that I can be.
Someone once told me that the sheer fact that I am even worried about how my behavior impacts my child is a sign that I am an incredible parent. It’s something that I remind myself of occasionally, especially when I feel that I am failing. And to be honest, just that little bit of advice makes a world of difference.
P.S. You don’t have to be a “Pinterest Mom” to be an amazing parent.