I always wanted to be a parent. I knew it was something I needed to do. Whether I had my own children, adopted, or fostered children I knew I needed kids in my home. My degree in child development helped me with the psychology of children, how they learn, creating an educational environment, and keeping them healthy, but it did not prepare me for the choices I would have to make as a parent and the judgement from others.
When I got pregnant with Matthew it was a surprise, but I felt I was ready. I mean I had a background in child development and educating children, so I was excited and ready for him to arrive. Whoah! I was not prepared for the rollercoaster of emotions I would go through.
The moment he was born I knew he was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. He arrived perfectly with amazing eyes, glowing skin, and a head full of dark hair. I knew he was mine and I had to do anything to protect him. Although I knew I loved him with everything of my being, my emotions were a mess and my anxiety did not subside. Every choice I made was agonizing and I worried if I was making the right decision for him. It was like I almost resented him and wanted my old life back because of how I felt (I wondered, "How can I feel like this with such a perfect child in my life now?"). Quite often, people would tell me how wonderful my life was and I needed to chill out. Suggestions were to take a bath, have a glass of wine, or eat some chocolate... ummm okay? Clearly, those people never had to deal with the anxiety I was experiencing. Needless to say, I could barely function and I had to call my doctor. I am thankful we live in an age where postpartum depression and anxiety is not hid under a rug, but doctors are willing to treat and help their patients who suffer from it.
When I became pregnant with Natalie I was worried about going through the same thing with her after her birth. I am on medication daily to help me with my anxiety and it has helped me tremendously. I was warned that if I stayed on the medication Natalie could be a little slow to start taking her first breaths at her birth. That freaked me out, so I got off the medication. Well, that was a horrible choice. Within two weeks I was not sleeping, my worrying was through the roof, and I was on edge all the time. I made the decision with my doctor to get back on my medication and be prepared at her birth with a pediatric nurse in the room. Making this decision was hard for me, but what made it harder was when people would ask why I chose to put my child at a risk like that. I was assured by my doctor that it was safe and would put less stress on Natalie in the womb if I stayed on my meds, but it still bothered me that others would judge my decision.
Fast forward to a little while after Natalie was born. We had to really focus on Mathew and control his behavior. See this previous blog post. We looked into many reasons for why he had such horrible anxiety and particular tendencies. After lots of discussions with his doctor we came up with a plan of action and she prescribed a medication for him. Yes, I said medication. It is not the only thing we are doing to help him, but we felt it was important to try several things to help get over this hurdle. We had to inform the people close to him about our plan, so that everyone could be on board with us and help him. Well, a handful of people were shocked and quite upset that we put him on medicine. I am still getting comments about the choice we made and how we need to look into other options. No one lives in our house, except for our family of four, therefore no one saw the daily struggle of living with a child with severe anxiety. Our poor three (almost four) year old could barely even go to the bathroom alone without freaking out.
Being a mom is one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs I have ever had. I look back at when I was a preschool and daycare teacher and am appalled at the way I judged some of the parents. Not all of the kids were easy to control, some of the parents were distant and uninvolved, and I sometimes felt certain parents did not understand how to discipline their children. I had no right to judge their parenting style or skills. No one is given a manual or a handbook on how to handle every situation when it comes to their child. We dive into it blindly and try to go with our gut instincts and
There are so many parents out there and we all need to support each other. Everyone may have different parenting styles, but what is important is what works for their family. As of now, I desperately try to keep my judgements at bay. Whether it comes to the parent of the child who is running around hitting kids at the playground, or the parent who is ignoring their toddler throwing a massive tantrum at a restaurant, I will try to not assume anything. I have no idea what they are going through or what kind of day they had. I think it would be so much better if we all just respected each others choices we make for our kids and support each other when we need it. Our job would be so much better and may even be a little less scary.
Matthew's Fourth Birthday Celebration!
Easter Weekend... Mr. Sharktank is taking the picture.