How often have we heard the old adage “caring for a newborn comes naturally” or “being a mother is second nature to every woman?” Well, I am here to tell you, as a mother of two children, that those statements are false!
Now don’t get me wrong, I thank my lucky stars every day for the two little treasures I have been blessed with, but caring for them is not only rewarding, but challenging. Sometimes, as parents, we are left with more questions than answers.
My eldest daughter, Lacey, is six, while my youngest child, Joey just turned four months old. Both children have a totally different need set, and sometimes, catering to both can be overwhelming. While Lacey loves her baby brother to pieces, she is having some issues with adjusting to life with a newborn. Lacey has been the only child and grandchild for six years, so sharing her time with this tiny, crying pooping machine is not always easy on her – or me.
In the beginning, I often felt tremendous ‘mommy guilt’ for not spending as much one-on-one time with Lacey, and I don’t think it was purely coincidental that every time Joey needed to be changed or fed, Lacey would also want me, or her dad, to read a book, make cupcakes or watch a movie.
Every day, however, Lacey is becoming more accustomed to sharing her time with Joey; and I am trying to be easier on myself as a new mom of two. I am slowly coming to the realization that that there are only 24 hours in a day and I cannot split myself in two. I have also learned that although my one-on-one alone time with Lacey is more limited, the quality of our time together has actually improved, and I make sure that when we are alone together she chooses the activity and that it is technology-free.
Debunking Myths: Eastern Health’s UR a Parent campaign
With our first child, my husband and I often relied on friends, family members and ‘Google’ to answer questions ranging from breastfeeding to children’s developmental milestones. This wealth of information, often outdated, incorrect and useless, inundated us! It left us feeling inept and overwhelmed as parents. I remember quite vividly grappling with weather or not to “always” pick up my crying infant in fear that I would spoil her, as so many well intentioned family members warned me about.
With Joey, our second child, I have taken full advantage of our own Eastern Heath’s UR a Parent website. This webpage has proven to be invaluable in helping us to care for our infant son, and it has also helped us to answer questions about our six-year-old daughter. I especially like the fact that it debunks many common myths, like the one I mentioned above. In fact, the site says, “During the first six months of a child’s life, children respond best to immediate and consistent attention and comfort; they cannot be “spoiled” by it.”
While parenthood can be rewarding and daunting at the same time, it helps to have information at hand that can lead us parents (and caregivers) in the right direction. The UR a Parent website is created by experts in the fields of public health, child development, mental health and parenting. I always leave this website feeling better prepared to respond to my children’s needs – and better informed, especially because the content comes from a credible source!
Parenting can be tough
Let’s be honest, parenthood is a life changer, and all change, whether, positive or negative, can be difficult to deal with. As a social worker employed in the field of mental health and addictions, I know all too well the importance of adopting healthy coping mechanisms.
I also know, all too well, the unrealistically high standards we as parents place on ourselves. As a working parent, I’d like to be the very best parent, professional, spouse, friend, etc., but it is often impossible to juggle all these roles perfectly, and I think it is positive to recognize that parenting can be tough. I guess, in this case, the old adage rings true: ‘nothing worth having ever comes easy!.’ ■
This story was written by Lori Mercer, a mom of two and a social worker with Eastern Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program.
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