By Guest Blogger Julie Fritz
Being a mom is amazing. It is the absolute greatest joy I have ever experienced in my life. But sometimes it is also really hard. I am a classic overachiever. If I’m gonna do something, I want to do it well. I was worried about that when we decided to have children. I knew raising children would be hard, but I was so ready for the challenge.
When my son was born, we had some struggles. He didn’t sleep great, he nursed every two hours for a year, but eventually we figured it out. As time went on, I started to feel confident in our parenting choices and he was responding very well to them. He is a very cautious child and if you give him the slightest look of disapproval, he gets back in line. I thought we had this parenting thing figured out.
Then we had our daughter.
I was very apprehensive about having a daughter in the first place. I mean, how was I supposed to raise a girl to love herself and be strong and independent when I’m still working on that for myself? I was terrified of failing her. She was totally different from our son from day one. She is fearless and determined. You never have to question what she wants, because she is very sure of it. She is quite an amazing little lady. But because of her being so different from our son, I really struggled parenting her. All the things I was sure worked, because of our son, just didn’t have the same affect on her. Last spring, just after she turned one, I started to get really frustrated. It really bothered me that I wasn’t able to figure her out and I felt my parenting was not working for her.
I spent most of the summer loading myself up with extras. Overextending myself with volunteer work and even taking on a part time writing job. I was feeling unfulfilled in my everyday life and saw this as my way of searching for a creative outlet. I found myself being away from my family several times a month to attend meetings and volunteer for different events. I really enjoyed it. It gave me a sense of purpose and made me feel like I was making a difference.
But on top of working full time, adding all these extras was starting to stretch me very thin. By fall, I was straight-up stressed out.
One night, in early November, I lost it. There isn’t a nicer way to say it, I completely lost it. The kitchen needed to be cleaned, after another dinner that she didn’t eat, and it was bath night. I just started bawling. When my husband, kindly and lovingly, asked me what was wrong, I started to unravel. I don’t know where it came from, but in this mess of me crying and talking through my feelings I realized what was really going on.
I had overextended myself with all the “extras” in a search to feel successful in a life where I felt like I was failing.
I was trying to fulfill my need to be good at something, by going outside of my family life, because I was constantly drowning in the fear of being a bad parent to my daughter. It was at this moment that I decided I needed to figure this out.
I started talking to all my girlfriends and fellow moms, and I learned I was not alone. Apparently, no two kids are the same and they all need to be parented a little differently. That knowledge changed my world. I felt like I could start to adapt and come to terms with parenting each child in a way that worked best for them. It’s a work in progress, but we are making strides. It also made me step back and find a manageable way to enjoy things outside of family and work, without overdoing it.
The biggest lesson that I have learned in all of this is that my daughter is the perfect child for me and our family. She is everything I hoped for in a daughter. Her strength and independence will serve her so well in life, even though those traits can make parenting her difficult sometimes. There will be lots of challenges on this journey with her, but we will get through them and teach each other so many things in the process. I am beyond grateful I get to be her mommy.
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