The In’s and Un’s of Parenting

There’s one question that my kids have been asking me rather often lately: “Are you not happy?”  Hm…why, do I not look like I’m having the time of my life?  Do I look as pooped and cranky as I feel?  Do I feel overworked and under-appreciated?  Well, I guess the answer according to the look on my face is: “Yes!”

I was just thinking today that if there’s one thing being a mom has taught me, it’s to “bounce back” from the in’s and un’s of parenting.  The in’s and un’s, in case you aren’t familiar with them, are events that are infuriating, interruptive, untimely and unpleasant.  And boy, these kind of situations happen all the time when you have kids because their goal in life seems to be to shake things up!

Image courtesy of Phaitoon/freedigitalphotos.net

Whether it’s a VERY LOUD tantrum that occurs in public or a change in schedule due to a shorter or longer than predicted (or non-existent) nap or an unexpected bowel movement during bath time (thank God that only happened once!), I have learned there is very little that I can control as a parent.  And the little that I think I do have control over changes from day to day.

So, you can understand why I might not look (or feel) super cheery all the time.  The only moms I see who resemble this are the ones in parenting magazines who are captured on film for a very brief moment, often when their baby is sleeping.  Being a mom is hard work and emotionally taxing, especially when you are a recovering perfectionist and control freak!

To be honest, I was a bit convicted about my negative attitude when my kids brought it up.  I mean, I always tell them to change their attitude when they’re whiny and uncooperative (basically when things don’t go their way).  But how can I expect them to bounce back from Grumpyland when I don’t model it for them?  Sigh!  These are times when I wish parenting was all about “do what I say, not what I do”, but unfortunately, that’s so not the case.

So, one of the most important lessons I’m learning and hoping to teach my kids is to accept the in’s and un’s of life and to move on from them.  This means having an attitude adjustment (ie. no yelling or getting frustrated and impatient) when things don’t go my way (ie. the kids wake up when I’m in the middle of a good book or whine about eating their veggies or forget how to share).  This will definitely take a lot of time to get down, but I have plenty of opportunities to practice!

The serenity prayer is something I refer to often when I start feeling down about the in’s and un’s of life:
Lord, give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.

Fortunately, our attitude is the one thing we do have control over.  I know that when I change mine, I am a lot happier and life seems more manageable and enjoyable.  Hopefully, I’ll continue to make progress in this area so that one day my kids won’t have to question how happy/unhappy I am.

Rachel Platten’s, “Overwhelmed” is a good song to listen to when you’re feeling just that, overwhelmed, and need to bounce back.

What helps you bounce back from the in’s and un’s of life?