My goodness, I am SPENT tonight! I am touched out, talked out, played out and above all thought out. We’ve had an amazing family weekend, but somewhere around 5:00pm Sunday evening hit, and I was done. I crashed out out on my son’s mini couch when we were “playing trucks” (aka him and hubby playing, and me holding a truck and having a lie down). While I was dozing he rammed a tractor into my head and I only just managed a feeble “oi” before my eyelids started straining back down, like the bags under my eyes were a magnetic field, and my head plonked heavily back onto the couch with the questionable odour (there’s actually no question; it’s definitely vomit). My body no longer cares where or how it lies, as long as it’s not expected any particular where. In summary: I’m tired! Why?
I am 100% an over-analyser. I overthink EVERYTHING! And as much as I tend to catastrophize everything, you’d think I would have anticipated this, but no…little was I prepared for the onslaught of overthinking that would come with being a parent! We parents have to carefully consider the most random of things! I’ll give you an example. Yesterday morning, Mr. 18 months lobbed a wooden block across the kitchen. I said firmly, (in fairness probably mumbling, it was 5:00am after all) “No throwing blocks! You’re only allowed to throw balls, nothing else”. So, he looks at me in delight, goes and retrieves his two bowls; then proceeds to propel them across the room towards the dogs. I’m so confused at this point (remember it is 5:00am) until I realise “bowls” sounds a lot like “balls” and he thinks I’ve just given him permission to go to town with the plastics drawer. So, here is my predicament: Do I tell him “no”, when he thinks he’s just followed an instruction and risk confusing him, and him never following an instruction ever again? Do I praise him for listening well, and risk him throwing crockery around until the end of time? What the hell do I do? See! Overthinking, to the nth degree!
Then, later on yesterday, for some really strange reason, I stated to hubby that we should have a family research project every season, and I can’t remember why, but this season, coming into winter, it should be bears. So, we would both research bears (in all our abundant spare time). When they hibernate, are they actually asleep the whole time; how do their bodies know the difference between a normal sleep and a hibernating sleep, or do they maybe not sleep during the rest of the year at all? We would watch bear kids movies, and bear documentaries, and read bear stories. My reasoning seemed sound at the time: Our son would see that learning was fun! And he (and we) would accumulate so much cool knowledge…What?! He’s 1, get over yourself, Shepherd. (Actually I still think it’s a pretty kick-ass idea and might keep it in mind when he’s older). The point is, my brain.doesn’t.turn.off.
Now, while this degree of analysis and overthinking probably isn’t normal (*ahem*) there are things to think about every.minute.of.every.day.as a parent. And I only have the one child! How did my parents do it with four!? My brain is on a constant loop of: Did he eat? How much? Was it enough, according to that food chart? How will we ever wean him off bottles? When was the last time I changed his nappy? Shouldn’t he have wet his nappy more by this time? How long since he’s done a poo, is he constipated, is that why he was unsettled last night? How should I time our day so he doesn’t fall asleep in the car, where that five minute nap will inevitably fill him with the energy of a thousand burning suns, destroying any hope of him having a proper nap and me actually getting the floors done? Do I have enough ingredients to make daycare lunches this week, or will I have to send a sandwich and sultanas and risk getting one of those letters home that question the nutrition of his lunchbox, like I saw on that one morning show recently? If I try to go to the shops for said ingredients, he will undoubtedly fall asleep. Did we do too much screen time today? Is he stimulated enough, but not too stimulated that he doesn’t have time to get bored and develop his own imagination like I read in that one Facebook article, while browsing Pinterest at the same time for homemade craft activities to do to make sure his fine AND gross motor skills are properly developed?! *Brain explodes*.
Some of these things are necessary to be thinking about (I do actually want to feed my kid, I quite like him) and some possibly (probably) aren’t. How do we tell? I think the answer is: Use our common sense and our intuition. We all have different children, different selves, different lifestyles, priorities, personalities, partners, strengths, wants and needs. We also have creativity, imagination, love and know our own children more than anyone else in the world. We’ve got this! Even without Pinterest, I reckon (but how cool is it, though).
I would personally like to get to a point where I parented more flexibly. More from the heart and in the moment, than in the brain and in the future. I’d like to spend less time reading parenting articles online, and worrying, and spend more time actually playing trucks rather than “playing trucks” and conking out because my brain is too fried to function.
As for my tired old brain, I’m going to give it a break sometimes. It’s OK to NOT have a research project going, to read something for yourself rather than parenting books or articles (which all contradict each other anyway) and to watch the Kardashians when you have a bit of downtime (If that’s your thing, I wouldn’t know, is that even their name? *blush* – Guilty pleasure, ok). It’s OK to lie and cuddle with your babies for hours when you want to, and not get anything else done. AND it’s OK to let them run around your feet (even if they whinge) while you get on with the everyday things of life, when you feel like it. They will be fine, and you will know if they are not, because you know them best. We’ve all heard it said that “the days are long, but the years are short”; it’s sometimes annoying to hear when you’re still in the bum wiping, tantrum throwing trenches, but its advice worth heeding, because soon enough it will be us giving that advice and I bet we will wish we had listened to it. And I want to be able to say that the days, while long sometimes, were days that counted, because they shaped a happy, loving life, lived well.