It Doesn't Get Easier - You Just Get Better

Monday, April 17, 2017

At the playground the other day, I saw a father juggling two toddler babies by himself. Were the only parents at the park and my twin-mom instinct kicked in and I knew his kiddos were twins too. We ended up talking and I found out his boy/girl twins were 15 months old. One was walking, one wasn't. They weren't able to really navigate the playground by themselves well - because they're babies, so dad had to do a lot of hands-on slide holding and swing pushing. His wife wasn't with him but he mentioned she told him there was a toddler friendly park nearby and that's how they ended up there.

Of course I told him my two crazy pants girls were twins too and that they would be 3 this summer. He sighed and looked at me, "Does it get any easier?" I can't tell you how many times a twin parent has asked this. But I have a standard response and gave it to him too, "It doesn't get better - you do. It gets harder but in different ways. It gets easier but in different ways. Every stage is different." At that moment one of my twins melted into a puddle in the middle of the playground as part of her daily 2.5 year old toddler tantrums. See - case in point.

via unsplash

And that got me thinking about divorce and single parenting. It's hard doing it yourself, even if you have 50/50 physical custody. Those days where it's you 24/7 with no one to tag you out or send in relief ... it's brutal sometimes. I can't even start to imagine those that have no help from the other parent. You are truly rockstars.

The first year of single parenting was difficult. I didn't want my girls to miss things (Santa, Easter Bunny, trick or treating) so I jointly did things with my ex that ended up not really being good for my mental well-being. I was stressed out thinking about taking them places solo, yet it depressed me to stay home all of the time. So I FORCED myself out that door, juggling two babies that were barely learning to walk. We went to restaurants, the library, neighborhood activities and the grocery store together. I learned what to bring with to entertain and keep tantrums at a minimum, as well as learned my kids threshold for boring activities. Incidentally - they love Target. Those are my girls!!!

It wasn't easy at first. How do you get two kids in a cart safely, plus groceries, and in and out of the car into your apartment? What do you do when you have to go to the bathroom and have to take everyone with you? And god-forbid there are dual toddler meltdowns and everyone wants to be picked up at the same time. But guess what - you don't let that deter you. You get out there and you practice. And before you know it, you'll start packing you diaper bag or kid essentials smarter, you'll learn which times of day work best for your kids, what restaurants they do better in or what their cue is to get out of there before they turn nuts. And it doesn't get easier by any means. Full-on toddlers RUN and they're fast, and unpredictable sometimes. But you'll get better at sensing when the tantrum is coming, or what to pack to alleviate some of the stress. You'll get more confident.

So just like parenting - single parenting doesn't necessarily get easier. You just get better at it. You get better at navigating your little family the way that works for you. You get less fearful, more confident. You grow right along with your child and get into a rhythm that works. It won't always be sunshine and rainbows. There will be time when you literally are at your wits end, or feel stranded on an island with no help. And bitterness can quickly sweep in and ruin your day. Don't let it. Be strong. Know you'll have another chance and another to practice this. You're getting better with every day.

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