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Friday, October 19, 2012

My Annual Parenting Challenge

children are the only people that can bring you to the brink of insanity...

I could not be happier that it's Friday.  I am very glad to see this week end.

Adam has been away since Sunday.  This was the week that Adam goes to Ottawa for his annual work trip.  A whole week is a long time to be a single parent. 

I counsel many single women seeking donor insemination so they can have a child.  While I can easily see myself having done that if I'd found myself still single in my 30s or 40s, I don't think I would have made a great single mom.  Heck, I don't think I make a great mom period!

I am the first one to admit that parenting does not come easy to me.  I just don't have the personality traits or skills that are advantageous.  Don't get me wrong, I unconditionally love my children and I would, without question, give my life for them.  But I am an anxiety-prone, Type-A, goal oriented, perfectionist who lacks patience.  Not great characteristics for a parent.  Particularly when you have two extremely stubborn, strong-willed children.

When Little A was 6 months old and I was in the throws of post-partum anxiety and depression, this trip seemed catastrophic to me.  I suffered from extreme anxiety over Adam being away for a week for months leading up to his departure.  I simply felt overwhelmed and completely unable to cope.  But cope I did.  Of course.  It's easy to look back now and marvel and how irrational my fears were.  But that's what happens when you have an anxiety disorder.  I can truly see now how serious it got too.

I am so grateful that I got help (CBT with a wonderful psychologist who diagnosed me with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anti-anxiety meds).  While this week was still tough at times, I barely gave Adam's trip a second thought beforehand, and I managed to make it through, not too worse for wear.  Of course, Adam's sabbatical last year gave me lots of practice already at taking care of the girls on my own.  But I also am doing so much better at managing my anxiety.

The week started off well enough.  Admittedly, I didn't have the mental energy to fight with Big A on several evenings when she refused to take a bath or practice her reading.  But I did get both girls' teeth brushed and flossed every night, which is an improvement over the past.  I have just come to expect that my children will be dirtier and less literate when Adam is away. 

Yesterday was awful though.  I helped organize an anniversary party for the girls' daycare, which has been running for 30 years!  Both girls threw huge tantrums, and again, embarrassed me (I think I have to go into these school and daycare events expecting the worst so I'm not surprised or disappointed).  I allowed them each to choose 2 treats from the snack table.  They each made their choices and quickly gobbled them down.  Later on, they noticed some chocolates that had been put out and both asked for one.  I refused, since they'd each already had 2 treats, and they both melted down.  Big A actually threatened me with, "If you don't let me have it, I'm going to complain until daddy gets home!" So I relented and let her have it.  NOT!  Believe you me, neither child got another treat!

Thank goodness for my friend Megan, who inspite of having 3 of her own children to corral, took Big A by the hand and tried to get her to calm down, while I tried to get Little A under control.  As we left to go home Little A calmed down, but Big A, in typical drama-queen style, claimed she was too tired to walk home and kept threatening to sit down on the cold, wet ground.  I ignored her and she shrieked the entire way home.  This morning the two of them would not stop fighting with each other.  I have never been more eager to drop them at daycare.

Adam is back tonight and I can't tell you how grateful I am to have a wonderful, supportive husband and co-parent.  Despite the fact that I can't imagine being a single mom, I never tell single women NOT to go ahead and become a parent on their own.  I have no doubt that for some people, parenting comes more naturally, and they are more than capable of providing a loving, nurturing environment for a child.  As for me, I think I'd end up in a straight-jacket.  I think it's beneficial for me to be an infertility counsellor because, not only do I get to help others in a way that's meaningful for me, but I get daily reminders that despite the many challenges of parenting, I am lucky to have two healthy children.