You know what’s hard? Parenting. Raising nice, obedient, intellectual children in a high pace, technological and diverse everyday environment. Making sure they are healthy, safe, and comforted each and every day, that they get enough attention and one-on-one time, and grow and thrive.
The past week has been more challenging than our normal triplet life and not something that is depicted on my usual cute and happy social media posts. Which brings me to a point of irritation for my week: social media. It is great to sharing your life and updating multiple people simultaneously and be able to look back on prior years’ activities, but it glamorizes so many things that realistically aren’t. For example, Facebook and Instagram posts that show smiling babies, cuddled up with one another, with clean houses in the backdrop and parents nicely dressed, with perfect hair, clothes and makeup…everyone is smiling.
Can I call BS on this for a moment?! Not that those moments don’t exist, but they are not the everyday norm, whether you have one kid or three or seventeen! In fact, I really do understand the effort it takes to get a cute photo of three toddlers together, with no one blurry or screaming or looking away, and it usually involves me as a sweating mess by the time they are all camera ready and cooperative.
Don’t get me wrong, I post more happy and uplifting things on my accounts than any of our hardships, since the happy memories are easier to carry in the long run and especially in hindsight. But sometimes I want to see the messy photos from people- because we are all going through things, especially now. I want to see the struggles and how they are overcome! That’s far more valuable to me than a bunch of perfect, unrealistic (but very cute!) photos. We should want to remember the treacherous and highly active life we are experiencing; someday we will look back on it proudly…because we made it through! Is that so wrong?
Raising children, let alone multiples, is not glamorous or for the weak of heart. It requires a ton of energy, patience, dedication and sacrificing hobbies, sleep, socializing and often your sanity to get through each day. It’s survival mode, with one task following the next all day long and sometimes no time to enjoy the good moments. It can be very lonely, with not enough time in the day to say hello how are you, even by text, to other people who don’t generally reach out to you to say it.
Now I wouldn’t trade my life as it stands today, but I wouldn’t mind it being a tad easier from time to time and like any parent, sometimes need some support. It can be frustrating to see other’s “perfect” lives, or at least the ones they want to show, on display. Now I definitely have my moments and tend to provide others with my “highlight reel”, but who really wants to see what the chaos is really like? Anyone? Besides me?
My day to day optimism is running a bit low these days, and while I don’t agree that talking about difficulties is the same as complaining about it, I venture to say this is what raising three toddlers really looks like.
Someone is always upset…it’s rare to have three happy at once although it does happen occasionally (and I try to be camera ready for it!). Typically they rotate on the fits. Recently Harper, who was inconsolable the entire weekend and cried for about three days straight, is slowly starting to improve in mood. Crying, whining, more crying and a lot of wanting the opposite parent who is holding her, about 100% of the time.
We checked her ears, any potential new teeth, looked her over head to toe and asked her about any owies, and are now just guessing she is simply anxious or in a major developmental growth spurt and trying to figure out how to manage it. We initially thought it was 1) a fear of airplanes flying overhead, 2) loud noises like airplanes flying overhead, 3) the wind hitting her face/hair, and the current guess is 4) anxiety of parents out of sight or a fear of the dark.
Mid last week she started with running in the house, crying for some unknown reason and not wanting to be outside, to insisting on attention 1000% of the time or continuing the total meltdown, to refusing to stay in her crib and immediately climbing out unless you were within eyesight. Prior to last Friday, she had never climbed out of her crib or attempted to, even after seeing Emerie and Reagan do it, and enjoyed playing outside without any issues. The normal nap time routine meant setting Emerie and Harper in their cribs, turning out the light with the sound machine on, putting Reagan down in the guest room bed, and crossing your fingers they all blessed you with a full, two hour nap. Fast forward to this week- we are surviving nap time with Nanny Chris laying down and settling Reagan in the guest room and me taking my “lunch break” and sitting in their room until they both fall asleep. Harper will emotionally instruct me to “sit” on the sofa in the nursery, and then immediately falls asleep, knowing I am sitting there. She then continues to wake up hysterical and occasionally we can coax her back down, but not most of the time. Emerie, my sleeper, will chats herself to sleep and mostly nap through Harper’s outcries. The double adult method is not preferred, to say the least, but we haven’t been able to resolve her stresses.
The mood disruption also means once of us must sit in their room at night, until all are completely asleep, because you can’t get up and sneak out after an exhausted Harper falls asleep, since the other two sense your movement and want to go with you. The past two nights I’ve spent two-plus hours past 2 AM, sitting and reminding them I am nearby so they’ll go back to sleep in their own beds. Sufficive to say, sleep patterns are not going great in the Douglas household right now, in addition to upset babies during the day and our usual busy routine.
As we navigate through another unknown of toddler hood, and pray the other two don’t step into it with Harper, toddler beds are now on order (unfortunately) and we are slightly scrambling to determine what other baby proofing needs to occur. Closet doors need to be purchased, painted and installed, more baby gates to block off other not babyproofed rooms, decisions on how to rearrange nursery cameras out of reach, those types of details that must be solved while still handling one upset and needy toddler AND her two sisters; all during a global pandemic that almost completely limits any support from outside our household.
So yes, even writing this made me tired, and it isn’t exactly joyous and uplifting; but hey, this is real life. Saying it’s hard is okay, because life isn’t easy or perfect and parenting three can be chaotic. I would not agree if you told me that my life was chaos- in fact people have told me that before and I semi-take offense to it. Why? Because my life is routine, routine, routine. It is very regimented. The minor (and major) interruptions are what we have to get through, because it is just a phase and we will get through it. We just might be a bit more tired during it…
So please…take a nice nap for me on this long holiday weekend, and send some extra patience our way. I think we are going to need it.