The Ups and Downs of Parenthood

Note: This column was printed in the Barrow Journal on November 7, 2012.

October was a rough month for us.  The boys got sick for the second time this fall.  All those wonderful festivals and things to do at this time of year got cancelled for us.  That didn’t surprise me. Now I’m kind of used to missing fun things because something comes up – that’s part of having kids that you learn about real quick.

What did surprise me was my reaction to my six-year-old’s stomach virus.  I thought I was passed the point of being an overreacting parent.  You know, when you have your first born infant, you’re overprotective and extra vigilant about everything.  When baby gets sick, your doctor is more concerned about calming you down than about the baby’s illness.

By the second child, you’re an old pro.  You don’t have to call the doctor anymore.  Colds and flus are dealt with at home.  When healthy, you overlook the fact that your son is crawling on an unswept floor, and you just sigh heavily and say a prayer when you see him lick the shopping cart’s handle.

But I have not been through a stomach virus such as this, and I was that much more hyper because a few months before this same son became dehydrated when he had a cold – he refuses to eat or drink if he has a sore throat.  So I was watching him like a hawk and pushing sips of water the best I could.

It was horrible, and my already skinny kid lost a lot of weight. It happened over the weekend too – kids always get sick on the weekends and at night when doctor’s offices are closed. So I pestered our doctor twice on the phone, and he assured me the virus was going around and my son would improve in time. It wasn’t fast enough for me, however, and if it hadn’t been for a more cool-headed husband, I probably would have taken him to the hospital.

This autumn the three-year-old is also taking us on round 2 of the terrible threes. (It’s not the terrible twos! It’s the terrible threes!) To top it off, he’s taken up screaming too. I’m not talking about temper tantrums – he screams when he’s happy, and he screams when he’s upset. It’s nerve-wracking to say the least.

His lack of volume control is also unfortunate for my husband who recently started working at home full-time. Sound travels through this house as well as it travels across water, so there really isn’t a quiet corner anyone can escape to. This whole season has been about adapting and adjusting to the ups and downs of parenthood.

It hasn’t been all bad. My six-year-old has impressed me with his ability to concentrate during our morning homeschool lessons despite distractions from his little brother. Two months ago I wasn’t sure we would make much progress on his math or reading skills any time soon, but suddenly my son is counting by 2s and 5s and reading is starting to click too.

Being sick also gave us the excuse to slow down and enjoy the autumn weather in our yard and do some painting and creating.  My six-year-old gets ideas from the children’s programs he watches, and it’s fun to watch him take on an art project and do it by himself.

We also enjoyed a fun, healthy Halloween week, which made up for missing out on some things earlier in the month.  We had a small Halloween party with friends, attended Bear Hollow Zoo’s “Boo at the Zoo” event, and went trick or treating in our neighborhood on Halloween night.  Oh, and I turned yet another year older, but let’s not dwell on that.

Whenever I experience the lows of parenthood, I remind myself that “this too shall pass.” Hopefully the upcoming holiday season will be healthy and stress free – for you and for me.

How has your Autumn been?

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