Is proactive parenting possible?

When my first child was born I had a wide range of reactions–the main one being WHAT JUST HAPPENED? You prepare to have this little person join you for nine months and it doesn’t matter how much you read or mentally try to prepare yourself, once they arrive you still aren’t fully ready for the reality of it.

The next thing that happened to me, and I think happens to most, is what I like to call the vortex–you get sucked into a tornado of chaos that is parenting.  It creeps up on you without you even knowing it. You think your life hasn’t changed, except it has, at least a little right?  Your once spotless house looks like someone ranacked it. You’re wearing the same clothes you had on yesterday and don’t care. And you aren’t social anymore because you are in bed by 7 p.m.. Does any of this sound familiar?

The parenting clock went very, very, very slowly for me at the beginning. The first few months were a blur of sleepless nights, trying to figure what was going on, and trying to “keep it together”. I had to remind myself that what I was experiencing was, surely, temporary.  I found myself shifting from one temporary phase to the next. The What-Am-I-Doing phase to the I’m-Never-Going-to-Get-a-Full-Night’s-Sleep-Again phase to the If-I-Have-to-Carry-the-Car-Seat-One-More-Time-My-Arm-Is-Going-to-Break phase, and so on. It took my first child six months to sleep through the night and my second nearly a year. Within a week of each child sleeping through the night, I almost forgot what it was like to be awakened in the middle of the night multiple times. How is that possible when it seemed like forever when it was happening?

The parenting clock started to speed up as my children grew. It continues to go faster and faster as they age. When my first son turned one I reflected on the year that was.  My husband and I were drinking some Sparkling Apple Cider in celebration of our achievement–surviving the first year and it was one of the first times I felt I had an opportunity to reflect on what had just happened.  The reflection prompted me to want to look forward and more importantly, what do we–my husband and I–want to happen next for our child and our family?

I think it is common, or more common than we might want to believe, that parenting can often feel like it is happening to you than you making it happen. There is so much to adjust to and think about, prepare for, execute on. It’s amazing to me, there’s enough time left over for us to try keep ourselves sane. It is exhausting.  A lot of time it can feel like all you can do is react, because everything is new.

Have you celebrated your (and your spouse or partner) celebrated any parenting milestones? Successfully swaddling the baby to sleep, the baby sleeping through the night, or your child’s birthday?  These are great opportunities to not only celebrate you and your significant other, but also provides you with a chance to reflect on what has happened and what is next–what do you see happening next in your child’s development, what do you see if you and your partner’s role?

How are you taking control of your parenting journey?

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