Ep. #7 The Incredible Years
Parenting. Wow, it’s challenging. Some days, you feel like a boss. Other days, a complete and utter failure.
Emma and Shaun have certainly had moments along the way with their sweet kiddo, but the reason this blog is coming at you primarily from my perspective is because I have been on that struggle bus way more often. Emma has one of those chill kids who she can bring anywhere with only occasional difficulties.
While we try not to play the comparison game, sometimes it’s hard to deny when you are really failing compared to those around you.
I mean, I was really in a bad place a few years ago as a mom. And, I’m only sharing this with the hope that you will find camaraderie as you read and listen to this week’s podcast episode.
I am cautious about how I explain my parenting struggles, because it is such a personal topic. And, I want to make sure that our son can read this someday and see how much he is loved rather than seeing just “the struggle”. The truth is, this little man is growing into a totally amazing young man. But, I would be lying if I said it’s been an easy road. As a baby, our little man was pretty easy. Smiled and giggled readily, met all developmental milestones and slept like a beast. But, when we added our second kiddo, things just got a bit more challenging. And then they got more challenging. Sibling rivalry was taken to a whole new level at the ripe age of 16 months. The constant pinching, biting and hitting were just bits of the puzzle that became parenting for Heath and myself. What started as confusion and mild frustration developed into a serious problem over the next several years. One of our pediatricians in Arizona referred us to a pediatric behavioral center, where we did not meet criteria for any one diagnosis, leaving us even more confused and alone.
I also want to point out that during this time, we had many other major life changes. Not only did we move from Washington state to Arizona for my husband’s medical school, but in doing so, left our entire support system behind. I also left a physician assistant job that I loved, including a supportive network of colleagues and a very satisfying work-life balance. Heath went from being primarily “stay at home dad” while finishing prerequisites for medical school to being a full-time first year medical student. We left family right as we added our second kiddo to the mix. To say we felt stressed and overwhelmed is a complete understatement.
We spent hours visiting doctors offices, trying to find support and help.
Friends and family were quick to offer solutions. We even visited my favorite pediatrician in Washington state during a trip home to see family. This physician advised me to “go ahead and spank him, we do it with our kids and sometimes they just need it!”.
Trust me, I tried everything. Yes, I followed his advice and spanked. Did it work? No. In fact, it made things waaaaaaayy worse. We tried time-outs. But, remember, I was also pregnant with our third baby during this stretch, so hauling a three-year old to a time out center was not always safe or practical for either of us. We tried rewards charts. We ignored. (Or, we thought we ignored.) We read books. I talked to everyone. I talked to physicians and other healthcare providers. I read more books. I listened to audiobooks. You guys, I’m not kidding. My mom, who is super mom didn’t even have advice for our struggles.
Yes, we got kicked out of daycare.
Has that happened to you?
Honestly, the more parents I meet and talk with, the more I realize that I am not alone in these experiences. I love the quote, “I was a perfect mom before I had kids”. It’s just so true. I babysat lots of kids when I was younger, come from a family of five, was the oldest girl and have always loved children. When I was little, I used to tell my mom that I wanted ten babies someday. Ha!
When we moved to Seattle and finally got into the Seattle Children’s Hospital Autism Center, we were told that our son does not have autism, but that he does have ADHD.
ADHD? Isn’t that what every boy has? It’s just a label. My kid isn’t even hyper. I don’t know...
We were sent over to the PEARL clinic where we got the help we needed. I want to emphasize that this week’s Podcast episode and blog are not meant to be about our son’s diagnosis, but the journey in getting to that point and finding the help we so desperately needed.
involved with the Incredible Years Program. This 18-week parenting course changed our lives. I am not promoting this course or book, but I am going to say this:
Whatever it is that you are going through when it comes to parenting, please do not give up. I went into this program with a lot of doubt, because I felt like a total failure. I was often depressed and overwhelmed. I knew there was a solution, but I did not know where to find the answers. I am here to say that it is completely okay to “break up” with your pediatrician if you do not feel supported. Or, to push back and ask questions. It is okay to ask your friends for advice. It is okay to be vulnerable and pray for the right outcome. I realize that some of you might be judging me as you read this. “Why is she sharing so much personal stuff? Isn’t she worried that people will read this and know too much about her?”
You guys, if I can help one person by writing and talking about this, I am calling it a win. Let’s stop pretending like parenting is easy and be more open to discussing the difficulties.