Bad vs. Hard
Updated: Dec 22, 2018
In the past few months, I feel like I reached a new level of parenting. Some of you may roll your eyes at me, but for the first several (and I mean SEVERAL) months of being a mama of 2 kids, I was terrified of doing bedtime alone. Practically the whole first year. I could do nap time no problem (although that took a couple of weeks to really feel comfortable with too). And eventually Ari dropped his nap anyway. But bedtime... a serious source of anxiety.
With a husband that has evening meetings and travels a lot, I relied a lot on the help of my mom and hired babysitters in the evenings to help me. My fears were mostly rooted in having our eldest, Ari, barge into his baby brother Ezra's room while I was rocking him to sleep (which used to take forever when he was younger!) , or in the fact that for a significant period of time, whenever he was left alone at bedtime, Ari had a potty accident. Or two. And then would barge into Ezra's room to tell me. And there was the time when I asked Ari to read or play and wait while I put his brother to bed, and he said "but somebody has to take care of me!" and promptly broke my heart. So I asked for help a lot.
For the most part, Ezra goes to sleep like a champ now, and Ari is less of a trouble maker, and actually even enjoys independence. And so a few months ago I decided that I needed to finally figure out how to manage bedtime on my own. I started implementing "brothers baths" and did away with the baby bathtub so I could bathe them both at once instead of one after the other. I bought Ari a LeapPad (yay Kijiji) and MeReader (yay Costco) so that he could keep himself quietly busy in his bedroom while I took care of his brother. And we figured it out.
One of my first solo bedtimes while Ari was crying and yelling at me because of something ridiculous like he didn't want to try to pee before bed, and Ezra was cryibecause of something ridiculous like I wouldn't let him climb up on the potty, I thought: this is hard. But was it any harder than it would have been if their Daddy was home? Not really. It's definitely easier when there are 2 grown ups and we have a 1:1 ratio, but is there still screaming and crying and various other challenges? Absolutely.
And like a lightbulb I realized that there is a big difference between bad and hard. Bad is the time that Navin was travelling, I was on my own with the boys, got pink eye and started throwing up. Bad was Ezra having chicken pox at 6 months old. But hard is different. Hard was travelling on my own with both kiddos to Boston. Hard was last night when Ezra was up screaming for 2 hours for no apparent reason (I blame it on hitting the developmental milestone of walking!) Hard is doing bedtime all by myself. Hard, I can manage. Hard can get easier. And it has. Taking care of two humans is hard, but getting easier. Doing bedtimes alone is hard, but getting easier. Sometimes, when everyone cooperates, it's even almost easy.
And now I have this little lesson in my mind to remember and give me perspective when something is hard. And what a difference in my own attitude it has made to think this way.
A couple of weeks ago, as I was being climbed on and cried and yelled at, I felt like I was about to join in the meltdown club. "This is hard, but not bad," I thought to myself with a smile. And you know what? I kept it together. And within just an hour, I was sitting down with a drink and some Netflix, refilling my bucket for the next day.
As I wrap up another stretch of solo parenting, I entered into bedtimes with no expectations. I took my time. I kept calm. Throughout the week, we lit the candles on the menorah and sang the blessings for Hanukkah. We opened presents. We had a brothers bath and read stories together. And it was calm and lovely. Plus, I got double the snuggles all to myself! It was definitely not bad, and I might even say, it wasn't that hard. I won't say it's easy, but it seems to get less hard every time.