"Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
" - Teddy Roosevelt
We've been hearing a lot of talk lately about how easy
we have it with such wonderful, easy babies and well-behaved, bright children.
I absolutely consider the deepest compliment when anyone says or even implies that my children are wonderful. And, I don't ever take it for granted one little bit that my kids are happy, and most of all healthy. I couldn't ask for any greater blessing.
But I wouldn't call it easy.
My first pregnancy and birth were downright SCARY at times. Besides the unexplained bleeding at 6 weeks. (CLICK HERE
and read this post again), I was 30 seconds away from an emergency trip to the operating room immediately after her delivery, and earned myself several extra stitches and an extra night in the hospital when the placenta didn't want to follow the baby, but wanted to tear and cause trouble instead.
My daughter's arrival ushered in a complete revolution in my career objectives - she was a happy surprise. I started my current business (see www.TheTutorStudio.com) before I was even done with my maternity leave. This huge change is what has allowed me to work only 20 hours per week, but still maintain the income I had while working 40+ (not to mention that being the boss means keeping a playpen and hopscotch in the office!) While this has proven to be the best change that I could have ever made, and I am so thankful for the support Huz and my family gave me to help me make it happen, unexpected, big changes are still hard work, especially simultaneous with learning how to be a mother.
And she did cry. A lot. All night sometimes. All day sometimes. It took a lot of work and trying many different ideas before we found her rhythm, and could understand what she needed from us. I called my mother more than once during the day begging for a 30 minute reprieve, just to sleep. But, then we figured her out, she relaxed, and I relaxed, and she started sleeping through the night, and everything got much better - wonderful, in fact. (That doesn't mean that I didn't completely enjoy her and her delicious little smiles through it all).
My second pregnancy was much easier in many ways, but not simple. When I was 8 months pregnant, we moved out of a house that we had lived in for 5 years, and I made my brother's wedding cake in the same week as Christmas, all while chasing after my daughter while very, hugely pregnant - nothing to chuckle at. Easy? Not really.
My son's delivery was much easier and smoother that Big Sis's had been (I was in labor for 48 hours, but it was very mild), until the first night in the hospital. I told the nurse that I wasn't feeling well, and when she helped me into the bathroom, I passed out - an bled a lot. One of the 10 delivery room nurses who came to help commented that she had never seen a blood clot so large ever in her 15 years delivering babies.
For the first two weeks of My son's life, Huz and Big Sis both had colds. Since RSV (a cold virus) is a complication in newborns that sends them to the hospital and can even be fatal, neither one of them could be around Baby Bro. Huz was able to take care of Big Sis, but for Baby Bro it was me, and only me 24 hours a day - no breaks. I couldn't help but feel angry when everyone else in my house was getting plenty of sleep, while I was up all night and day, even though I understood that there was no fault. And, I was incredibly heartbroken by the change in my relationship with Big Sis - she went with Daddy, and I took care of the baby. It was a hard transition.
To digress for just a moment - bear with me, it is relevant - I remember watching the Winter Olympics with my dad when I was about 12. I was admiring the figure skaters and the great ease with which they flew and twisted through the air. I commented on how "easy" it was for them. My dad decided to sieze an opportunity. He explained how the very fact that I thought it was easy, meant that they were very, very good at it. Those girls were skating from 5 AM to 5 PM 7 days per week, and what they were doing was so hard that no one else in the world could even do it
, let alone do it so well as to create the illusion that it was easy
.The better you are at something, the easier it looks to someone who doesn't observe the work you put into it.
There are many, many people who work very hard, and it looks like they work hard. But, if something that many people find hard looks easy, it's probably because of hard work and skill.
Baby Bro is a wonderful baby, as was Big Sis. Big Sis is smart, and lovely, and (usually) well behaved. And while that does have a lot to do with their own temperaments (lucky), it also has a lot to do with a lot of hard work.
We have had to work hard to understand our children and find structures that work for them. We have had to put ourselves aside and work together as a team, even when we disagree, to offer consistent values, expectations, and boundaries. We have had to figure out, by trial and error, how much sleep everyone needs and when they need it, what and when everyone needs to eat, and every other trick we now have up our sleeves for setting them up for success.
For example, it was no miracle that Big Sis was potty trained in one week when she was barely 2 - it was months of studying and preparing on my part, deciding what would work for us
, a lost 4-day weekend spent doing nothing else, and the supportive phone calls on a moment's notice to family members who were willing to celebrate with us, no matter where they were, a little pee pee in a pot.
We also work hard to accomodate all of the decisions we have to make in our lives. We don't own a house with a yard for our spritely 4-year old to romp around in. So, we have to manage A LOT of outings - big outings - every day, and outdoor class tuitions. Huz commutes to work, so that I am closer to my work and my support system, but that means two hours per day (at least) less time when Huz can help (and he is a fantastic helper). We spend way too much money on our 10-15 hours per week of child care, since we double up on pre-school, and our best babysitter ever, who comes to our house to take care of Baby Bro and picks Big Sis up after school. It's not easy.
We confidently accept misunderstanding and criticism for our focus on them rather than, well, anyone. It was what we needed to do to get us where we are now. They didn't come with instruction manuals, after all - we needed to study!And most importantly, we are happy to do it all, joyful in fact to have work worth doing - which is why someone might think it must be easy.