I wrote a blog post last month about being a mom of two. I sat on it for a week (or two), then I wrote some more. All of it felt really raw, though, and I just wasn’t able to make myself hit the publish button. I promise I don’t hate my vocation, it was just a really rough day when I wrote it. Some people find that first baby to be a hard transition. I didn’t at all. Maybe it’s because I nannied for years, or maybe it’s because Povi was just an easy baby, but apparently two kids were my “hard transition.” Suddenly, life seems very very different. Everything is just so much more complicated now, from getting out the door to figuring out how to make friends in a new area. It’s plain exhausting. Regardless, now that Lent is over, I’m ready for this post to leave my drafts folder. So here we go: xox
Here’s the truth: being a parent is hard. Being a mom is damn hard. Being a mom of two is a freakin-Mount-Everest-and-landing-a-quadruple-and-winning-the-tour-de-france level of hardness. I hear that when you get to three kids, though, it actually gets easier. I haven’t figured out whether this is because it’s actually easier, or because by that point your house is destroyed, your body is destroyed, you’ve learned to live on zero sleep, and your desire to be right and get things done a certain way? Completely kaput. But back to two kids: have I mentioned it’s hard?
Whenever Vincas gets home these days, I feel like he cringes a little as he asks (in the nicest, sweetest, deathbed whisper) “How was your day?” Some days are fine. Some days are great. And some days I feel like I’m pulling myself and both kids up a cliff, by my fingernails, with an anchor and a half strapped to my feet, to where 6:30pm looms. If one of the kids is good, the other is sure to be bad. If one naps like an angel, the other one is screaming and shouting and (in Povi’s case) banging the crib so loudly you’d think there’s construction being done on the house. Two weeks ago it was Aidas causing all the angst – sleeping only two or three hours at a time during the night and sucking milk out of me like it’s going out of fashion. I was surviving off Keurigs and sunshine and a relapse of carbs. This week it’s Povi and his dreaded two year molars.
If there’s anything you need to know about Povi, it’s that this kid does not do well with pain. You laugh, but I’m serious. Every single tooth that’s battled through his gums to see the light of the world has caused this child the greatest angst. And rather than suffer in silence, he makes sure we all go down with him. I’ve become a pro at dealing with the dead fish flop in every parking lot and strapping him into his highchair when he’s in full tantrum mode. And yet – despite these many trials and tribulations – he’s apparently content to STILL not talk. I’ve tried explaining to him how much easier life would be if he could just explain to me that “Mom, this toy truck won’t turn and the ladder keeps getting stuck and I’m getting frustrated, so please help me” but he just scowls and screams and throws his wooden trucks (whoever thought wooden toys were amazing? Oh that’s right, ME) against our (new) wooden floors for the zillionth time in a row. The other day I decided to lay down the law. I asked, no demanded, a polite “please” for the water. Don’t misunderstand: this child CAN talk. He says words on a regular basis. When he’s mad, though, he’d much rather kick and scream and huff and puff. So we had a standoff. It lasted far longer than I’d like to admit before I crumbled. And within seconds he smirked and said “thank you, Mama” (in Lithuanian) pretty as could be. Just to show me he could. Povi: 10,000 points. Mama: zero.
Parenting, man. It makes you question your sanity, question your vocation, and even question getting out of the bed in the morning. Being a mom of two makes you drink, and then drink some more. And then, when you’re ready to throw in the towel and melt in a puddle of tears, they do something cute and you start thinking that you’re almost ready for child number three.
Almost right after I finished writing this angsty, complaining-y post, I listened to a podcast by Father Mike. Father Mike Schmitz– if you haven’t heard of him – is this hilarious priest who works with Campus Ministry at the University of Minnesota Duluth. He has podcasts about all sorts of different topics and I’ve yet to hear one I haven’t enjoyed. (seriously, if you’ve never listened to them, go check em out now. You won’t regret it, even if you don’t happen to be Catholic) I usually finish listening and feel inspired about life and my faith. This time I felt pretty convicted. Convicted. That’s a word I’ve pretty much never used. This word has two meanings: to be guilty of and the state of being convinced.
In this particular podcast, Father Mike talked about how duty and obligations are often seen as a burden, but being entrusted with a duty is actually a gift. And when you choose to do that duty, it becomes a power or freedom. In other words, you choose to accept a duty. You say yes to it. I made the decision to become a parent and then God entrusted me with both Povi and Aidas. Not everyone is given this task and nobody ever said it wouldn’t be hard or all-consuming. It’s easy to forget that and become stuck in the monotony of wiping butts and washing dishes and getting curdled milk puke running down my cleavage after Aidas vomits for the tenth time in a row. It’s easy to just mentally check out, or feel frustrated by all the little fingers clinging to me. But it’s no good to just show up every day – it’s important to be present. I feel like lately I haven’t been so good at that. It’s completely understandable to sometimes be counting down the minutes till bedtime, but I’ve been feeling like that a LOT lately and this podcast was a wonderful Lenten reminder that I need to do more than show up. If Lent – this forty days before Easter – is a time where God is trying to reconnect with us, than what better time for me to remember why my vocation is not just a duty, but a gift? Today I got to trade in one kid (Aidas) for another (my nephew, Lukas). I left Aidas napping with my sister and my mom and I took the two older boys to the library. It’s crazy watching Povi run around and realizing he’ll be two in just a little under a week. I’ve been a parent for two whole years. It seems like it’s been longer. My mom made the comment the other day that maybe the kids themselves aren’t the reward: maybe the reward is who you become after raising the kids. That they shape you and make you into (hopefully) a better, holier version of yourself. Obviously the kids are (hopefully) also pretty awesome human beings, but I liked her point, too: that in the act of parenthood, in this constant state of sacrificing our wants and needs from someone else, we become a better and more beautiful version of ourselves.
How has being a parent changed you?