Postpartum Life, Part II

Three good days. IN A ROW! And right after a 3+week out of state vacation with the grandparents (which can be a notoriously difficult adjustment time as other parents of toddlers know!) I’m excited about that. I didn’t have to call hubby or my mom in a panic about anything. I didn’t feel like I was too overwhelmed to cope with the struggles of my past 3 days. Wondering if I’ve turned a corner. Maybe the postpartum cloud has lifted? If not completely, I’m pleased with the progress! I even caught myself singing out loud randomly again. It had been quite a while since I sang out loud other than at church (and sometimes I didn’t feel like doing even prompted singing), probably since right after my first was born and I went through a lot of postpartum symptoms with him. That realization made me think I’m starting to feel more like the normal me again.

Big bro hasn’t eased up on his tantrums the past three days; far from it. Continuing with consistent discipline is definitely wearing, but for the most part I’m able to stay calm and persevere (feels like an all-day endeavor..because it is). He seems less frustrated overall and is more dealing with lack of impulse control, like when he whops Sissy for no reason, poor dear. Sissy is 5 months old now and still the sweetest thing, even while teething.

Sometimes the sweetheart in him will emerge, too, and he’ll kiss her on the head in the middle of playing with his trucks. My son’s increasing vocabulary seems to help the situation. I try to lighten up things by sharing giggles, playing tag, or baking together. Maybe he senses I’m less tense and anxious.

I had struggled with insomnia since the last post but for the past week I’ve been able to sleep through the night. Pregnancy and parenthood so greatly increase one’s appreciation of sleep. Insomnia, oh so much more.

I’m not despairing about the future, feeling like I can’t handle tomorrow “alone”. As a Christian I believe I’m never alone spiritually, but sometimes the physical aloneness (no one to physically lend a hand when I felt so inadequate with a difficult toddler and needy baby all at once) felt overwhelming. Maybe it will feel that way again, I don’t know. People give a lot of advice when you go through a hard time, and saying to “just trust God” is not very helpful in situations like these. We may know trusting God is vital. Fear or anxiety are crippling emotions, and sometimes you can’t just shut them off even if you know God is trustworthy, strong enough to carry us through, that he has it all figured out so we don’t need to worry, and that he will never leave us.

For me I think a lot of the healing has been realizing the sources of my fear, and the unhealthy thought patterns in general. I tend to think like a perfectionist and people pleaser. We all know nobody’s perfect and you can’t make everybody happy. Try to, and you’ll be anxious. As a parent, the perfectionist tendencies really can get me worked up because, for instance, there’s no set standard or way to do things as a stay-at-home mom. I want to be the best mom I can be and not mess my kids up. As an example of this tendency for perfectionism, right now I have literally 12 tabs up with online articles to read about how to best parent my challenging child. (The funny thing is that I’ll never be able to implement all the suggestions, and some of the suggestions are contradictory from author to author, and finally, all kids are different so driving myself batty to follow somebody else’s suggestions might not even work in our case.) Giving myself permission to not earn 100% in everything is such a relief. My son won’t love me more if I’m perfect.

Realizing that even Jesus’ family had issues, and not everybody liked him though he was perfect has been a relief. Perfectionism and people-pleasing will probably be things I struggle with my whole life, but identifying them more in my thoughts is helpful to attempt to refocus on what really matters. Asking, “Am I being loving with my son?” rather than “Am I not making any mistakes with him?” is a healthier approach to parenting. Because I’m human and humans make mistakes. People might not think I’m doing things the best way, but I can’t focus on what they think, because it only matters what God thinks. And he offers forgiveness, strength, and hope for each new day and the challenges within. I’m so thankful.

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