If the American dream with the white picket fence, the husband and the 2.5 kids, is feeling equal parts dream and nightmare, you’ve come to the right place. You’re probably feeling guilty for not being the Zen parent you always dreamed you would be, but don’t fret, you’re not alone. If you’re like me, you’re more than grateful for your healthy children, awesome husband and wonderful life, but you’re also not so Zen. It appears that some crucial information was left out of every single baby book I read in preparation for becoming a parent and I’ve read plenty. This blog is all about what to really expect when you’re expecting and during those first exciting, unpredictable and excruciating five years. If you’re a person who likes order, control, planning, a clean house, quiet time, relaxing, vacationing, spontaneity, or your sanity, becoming a parent will be a shock to your system. Don’t worry; I will include warnings and tips throughout the blog so you don’t make the same rookie mistakes I did. My goal is that you can avoid at least one parenting pitfall from reading this blog…We’ll talk about having low expectations later 😉
One of the Strategies for Success Survival Not So Zen Moms live by is “Parenting: If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry.” While parenting can be the most amazing, beautiful and fulfilling experience you will ever have, it can also be the most painful at times. For instance, when the stomach bug works its way through your entire family, taking out one person at a time. You will be cleaning up vomit and tending to the sick all night and doing laundry all day. Another example is your baby’s nighttime wakings that have lingered on for an entire year. You’re so chronically tired from waking up in 2-3 hour increments for so long that you’re basically a shell of your once vibrant and happy self.
When I was in that very position with my four-year-old son running around like a mad man and my one-year-old still waking up 3-5 times per night (a gift he gave us from ages 6-12mths), I didn’t even feel like myself anymore. The one thing that I held on to was my sense of humor to help get me through those long, exhausting days (at least most of the time). One night, at an especially low point, we went to dinner with two other mommy friends and their families. My friends were trying to cheer me up and I was too tired to fight them. At dinner, they bought me a beer and within 2 minutes, one of the kids spilled the entire 20 ounces directly into my lap. Instead of crying, I decided to make fun of the situation. One of my girlfriends turned to me and said, “Hillary, you should really stop joking like that.” That was the moment I realized that my coping mechanism for dealing with the challenges of parenting was to laugh, not cry. My friend dealt with parenting in an entirely different way and therefore couldn’t understand my brutally honest approach with an added comic twist. I didn’t want to pretend like things were hunky dory when they weren’t and I wasn’t about to pass up on all of the prime comic material that my husband and kids were serving up on a daily basis.
This survival strategy can be applied to many areas of one’s life:
- Marriage: If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry
- In-Laws: If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry
- Your Weight: If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry
- Life: If You Don’t Laugh, You’ll Cry
- Death: Nope…doesn’t really work for this one!
The bottom line is, life can be tough at times and parenting is no different. Challenges will pop up along the way and it’s your choice how you want to deal with them. This strategy is by no means foolproof, but it can help you get through those really dark days of parenting. Whether you’re pregnant with your first child or in the trenches with an unruly toddler and a cranky baby, laughing instead of crying was the key to my survival and maybe it will be for you too!