|Chloe and Kellan, photo courtesy of www.JessicaDowneyPhoto.com December 2011|
I believe one of the main reasons we are here on this Earth is to learn and grow. Often times, the biggest opportunities for growth are through our trials, if we allow them to teach us.
Now, I don't mean to call Kellan (4 months) and Chloe (2 years) my challenges, that just sounds bad, but in all honesty, their little personalities have caused me to learn and grow in many ways. Now that Kellan is 4 months old and Chloe 2 years and change, I feel like I am finally, finally starting to learn some of the life lessons that I personally have needed to learn and improve on.
Before Kellan, I'm embarrassed to say, but when people would say they had a *colicky* baby, I somewhat thought to myself "all baby's cry, that's just part of being a baby, it's not that bad, buck up." AND, when people would say their 2 year old was *really busy,* and somewhat *naughty* i.e. they would get into anything and everything and write all over walls etc., I would think to myself, "well, you just need to be a more aware parent and discipline more." I know, embarrassing that I thought this way, but it's the truth. Well, fast forward to me, today, with what I can officially call a *colicky baby* and officially deem a *VERY busy 2 year old* who draws on walls and the whole nine yards. Let's just say, I shouldn't have *judged* those parents ;)
In my pre-Kellan days, I don't know if I really even understood what "colicky" meant, and I still don't really know if there's an official diagnosis or anything, but what I envisioned colicky to mean is definitely what Kellan is. Kellan is my dear sweet, sweet baby boy, so cute in every way, and probably not on the farthest/toughest end of the spectrum of colic, but he is my sweet baby boy that loves/needs to be held almost all day long and if he's not being held, he is usually screaming his little guts out, something that is like nails running down a chalk board for me.
I don't know if Kellan's little personality is the way that it is because he was born right before Christmas time, so the first month of his life we were surrounded by family, every single week and maybe he just got used to being held all the time? I can tell that sometimes his crying is for sure due to his little digestive system not being up to par yet...he, like most babies, stiffens up into a board and screams in pain when he's gassy, but this seems to be about as often as most of my other babies, which is not all the time. The big difference between my baby Kellan and all my other babies is that Kellan can rarely, rarely be set down and just *chill* in his bouncy seat and be content even after he has eaten, napped, had some gas medicine if he needed it and had a new diaper. Even when all his needs are met, it is very rare that he is just content to hang out. Because I've had 3 babies prior to Kellan, I feel like I can officially say, Kellan is colicky, he is definitely a different type of baby then the rest. My one saving grace with Kellan is that although he is still sometimes hard to soothe even when I am holding or rocking him, for the most part, 90% of the time he can at least be soothed if I am holding or rocking him. I know that some mommies can't soothe their babies even when they are holding or rocking them. This is something that would be extremely difficult, I can only imagine.
Chloe, my other little "gift in disguise," puts my lack of patience to the ultimate test with her Tasmanian type antics and abilities to undue anything that assumes any kind of order everywhere she goes. Chloe takes the word "BUSY" and multiplies it by 100! My mom often tells me, "When I talk to you on the phone and you tell me about Chloe and how busy she is (and Kellan and how fussy he can be), I often think you're exaggerating, and then I come and visit you and realize you aren't making any of this up!"
So why am I sharing all this? For several reasons...one reason is because I want to remember these days as vividly as possible, so that when my kids are parents themselves, I can sympathize and empathize as well as possible and be there for them and support them. I also share this because I am finally realizing all the many lessons that are here, wrapped up in these *challenges* for me to learn and grow and become so much stronger!
At first, when I had day after day of Kellan screaming and crying every time I set him down or every time we went in the car and he had to be in his car seat, I would stress and get frustrated about all the many things Chloe was destroying while my hands were tied, holding Kellan, all the many chores, errands, projects that weren't getting done, all the laundry that was piling up, all the people I wasn't able to call or see etc. etc. Every time I would sit and watch Chloe dump out a bottle of shampoo all over the floor, spill her cereal all over the floor, color on the walls with nail polish I could feel my blood pressure rise. Finally, I am relaxing into this stage of my life, accepting it for what it is, being appreciative for these little sweethearts despite their *not so pleasing* personalities at times.
I have learned quite a bit from this experience of being a mommy to a fussy baby and a BUSY 2 year old.
*I have come to a much better understanding of what my true priorities are; what things really need to be done, what things really don't need to get done, what things warrant my time and attention now that there is very, very little of it
*I have learned that although my baby is colicky or fussy or whatever we want to call it, he is still healthy and happy, something that many mother's don't get with their babies, something that I treasure and am beyond grateful for and do not want to take for granted!
*I have learned that I actually wasn't as efficient as I thought I was pre-Kellan and Chloe days; I am realizing that when time is very limited and you only have a certain number of hours a day to actually get things done, you become VERY focused which allows you to really zero in on exactly what needs to get done...and you don't let yourself get side tracked as easily
*I have learned that if you work at home, it is far easier to have strict working hours where there are no distractions to get things done as opposed to trying to multi task all day long. I can get a LOT of work done in a 2 hour time frame where Jeni is in charge of the kids as opposed to a whole 8 hours where I am trying to be a mom AND a business owner all at the same time- it just doesn't work well when I try to do both at the same time, nobody is ever happy with that scenario and I fail miserably at both when I try to do it all at the same time.
*I am being more accepting of the fact that this stage of life just won't allow for a *Pinterest-worthy* level of organization and aesthetic in my house. We have minutes here and there where it all looks organized and great, but for the most part, I am at the busy, busy child stage of life with lots of equipment i.e. toys, diapers, crayons, snacks etc...and as excited as I am to get to my house looking *Pinterest-worthy* some day in the future when my kids are older, I need to relax and be OK with the very lived in look that my house portrays right now and be so happy for the fun, exploration and learning that comes through the messes
*On the other hand, I am also learning that a little effort into organizing, cleaning, and planning for the week ahead on the weekends when I have the help of Mike goes a LONG way into helping me maintain as much order as possible in the week ahead
*I have learned that little personalities like Chloe's where there tends to be a lot of *busy-ness* and destruction, also come with personalities that are a complete joy and crazy fun experience to watch; never have I wanted to cry and pull my hair out and then laughed and wanted to hug her so tight all in a matter of seconds!! Being her mom is indescribable! She is a true roller coaster of fun, something I have never experienced before, and although there are some pretty crazy twists and turns that make me want to get off the ride and throw up, there are some huge, huge thrills that she takes me on and makes it sooo worth the ride!
The time with these little babes of mine are fleeting. Before I know it, they really will be grown and gone and off raising their own little Tasmanian devils! Instead of fighting against their little personalities, I am finally starting to relax into them and accept who and what they are...and learn what I am supposed to learn from them, and even try to enjoy the ride, not that every day is easy or even enjoyable now, but my perspective has changed and I have learned to work with these situations and not against them!