My company, The Fayetteville Doulas, co-hosts two postpartum support group meetings (for more info on those, click here) every month. And while I may no longer be what is considered “postpartum” I attend the meetings for three reasons:
1) Because my company co-hosts, and as such needs to be represented at the meetings. These meetings are a first for our area, and a much needed resource for new parents. It is a priority to attend and show support and solidarity and to lend an ear to moms in our community who need a judgement-free unbiased audience to talk about whatever it is they need to talk about.
2) It is good for me. I may not be newly postpartum, but discussing things that are on my mind and hearing from others about their struggles keeps me mentally sound. Who hasn’t felt better after a good cry, lots of laughter and some thought-provoking discussion?
3) I enjoy sharing my stories of motherhood, family life, postpartum depression and how things have changed as I gain experience as a parent. One of the things I stress to new parents who are struggling with postpartum depression, or another postpartum mood disorder, is that with proper support and help, things do get better. The cloud, fog, sadness, lack of energy, anxiety and worry are not something that you have to just deal with because you just had a baby. And you deserve to be happy, and to enjoy your baby! Because things can get better.
But do things get easier? Yes….and no.
My four kids are 17, 9, 6, & 4. Yes, quite the age group.
Like many moms of older children, I often find myself getting teary-eyed over baby photos or videos. Sometimes I reminisce over some of the moments that stick out in my mind–labor, first baths, first foods, first steps, vacations, trips to the pool, holidays. I even find myself thinking about having a fifth (yes, I know…I think I have a one-way ticket to Crazy Town). And then one of my children snaps me back to reality. They’re so self-sufficient now! They can bathe themselves, they’re all out of diapers and can get their own snacks and two of them can even cook. And, perhaps the best part of all, they sleep in their own beds….most of the time. Sleep! Glorious sleeeeeeep!
But, even with all those lovely perks of older kids there are challenges. All but the youngest are in public school, and that comes with a set of challenges all their own–peer pressure, bad influences, teachers and homework and grades. Then you have the attitudes. The eye rolls. The back talking when they’ve had a bad day at school and don’t know how else to deal with it. The temper tantrums at the end of the day when they’re JUST DONE. And that is just from the younger three. Parenting a teenager is a blast. Really. There’s a fine line, however; between friendship and parenting. And I think this line has to be made bold and clear before the teenage years start because kids of all ages will test boundaries and patience. We all did it, and our kids will do it too.
Parenting is hard no matter how old your children are. But as they grow older, it is just a different kind of hard. We swap sleepless nights because of a fussy baby for sleepless nights because that baby is now at their first sleepover and we’re nervous and excited at the same time. We swap diapers and wipes for sports gear and dance shoes, toys that light up and play music for ipads, cell phones and real cars; things that are met with a mix of caution and a desire to let them be their own person, but….do we REALLY have to just yet??
The first years are toughening you up, giving you a strong foundation to expand your parenting philosophy on. You’ll likely end up doing or saying things you swore you’d never ever do or say. And that’s ok. In life, we all make mistakes and we learn from them and parenting is no different. And, in my experience, the more flexible you are the “easier” things will be.