So I've been a "parent" for about three weeks now, and it has been quite an experience. It's kinda nice that I've totally bypassed the dirty-diapers-and-midnight-feedings stage of childrearing and that my parenting experience has a definite end-date on it, but it has certainly been enlightening. Leah and I have had some wonderful times, but, to her dismay and my requirement, it hasn't been a non-stop picnic every day. There are rules and responsibilities whether we like it or not. But I think she's adjusted well.
Every morning, Leah is responsible for walking the dog and feeding her. This kinda just happened. She asked if she could take her out, and I told her "yes." Ever since then, the dog has become one of her family responsibilities. It's actually pretty adorable given that she used to be afraid of The Beast. She cleans up her dishes off the dinner table, puts away her own laundry, and takes care of her own room. It's basic, but necessary.
I've discovered the hardest part of parenting is the laundry. It never ends!!! How many outfits can a child wear in a given day? This is ridiculous, people! I'm doing laundry almost every day. Is that normal?
I've also realized how hard it is to have a moment alone. I used to wonder why my good friends with kids didn't have time to blog or Facebook or keep in touch, but now I totally get it! Leah is 9 and pretty independent, but I still barely have five minutes alone in a given day. And, when I do have a moment, it usually involves just having a quiet moment. Blogging, unfortunately, has taken a backseat.
I've also come to discover that parents can't be sick. Ever. Because, if they are, there is no one to tend to the children. Seriously. How do all you parents do it every day? I was diagnosed with a severe ear infection on Sunday and I couldn't even really take a day to just lay in bed and sleep. A friend was in town, and he certainly helped with Leah, but I still needed to be up and at 'em all day. And she's 9!! I couldn't imagine being in that much pain and on meds with an infant or a toddler. You parents out there AMAZE me. Seriously.
We've had some major attitude moments that required some discipline, but that's to be expected when dealing with a 9-year-old-going-on-16. But clear expectations and consistency and helped her to understand the house rules and what she can and can't get away with. I've discovered that simply talking to her in a stern voice and giving her a choice can eliminate a lot of our problems. Like yesterday. She woke up with MAJOR attitude. I told her that she had two choices. Either get a new attitude by the time we got to the library (about 20 minutes away), or she could spend the afternoon in her room. Within ten minutes, she had perked up and was a totally different kid for the rest of the day. Of course, some battles are a little more blown up, but things are pretty even keel.
We've also had some awesomely sweet moments. Like when she is playing in the living room and I'm in the office, and I can hear her talk and play with her toys. So imaginative! And when she just wants to cuddle and be close. And how first thing in the morning she crawls into bed with Bailey to cuddle. And how she likes to crawl into my lap halfway through a movie in the theater and just sit together.
This whole experience has gotten me thinking about the "kid" situation. It's not that Leah has made me not want to have kids, but having her around has made me realize how much work kids really are. And how they limit what you can do. And see. And listen to on the radio. And eat. I think it's definitely rewarding, but it's also A LOT of work. And it makes a girl think.