Thursday, January 18, 2007

"However do you stay SANE?" is a legitimate question when it comes to parenting


Danvers State Insane Asylum. My old stomping grounds. Danvers, that is, not the asylum.

Boogiemum's comment in my last post got me thinking. "I think I could write an entire blog on instances, like the one you mentioned, on things that my 3 kids have done," she wrote in response to my confessions of adventures in parenting my creative kids.

In fact, come to think of it, to a large degree, I have.

More to the point, I love doing it.

First, it records adventures my kids and I have at this time in our lives. Second, it helps me find a healthier (read: more humorous) take on the situation. Third, and most importantly to me, it is empathetic fodder.

Oh how I love to hear from the other parents who have been there, done that and lived to tell about it.

My husband and I were talking about the kids last night, and it struck me how fortunate I am to have so many outlets for connecting with other parents...how unbelievably valuable that is for me. I love my real world friends for it, and I love the Internet for it too.

The Internet is an awesome medium. Support boards saved me during my infertility crises. The people there were a price above rubies. Blogs---much the same and much different---are fantastic ways for me to feel both validated in my experiences and stretched in ways I haven't had experience.

In the end, though, parenting is (by and far) the biggest, hardest, most challenging, and of course, most wonderful, experience. Since it is the biggest thing I've ever experienced, commiserating with other parents---either by writing my own adventures, or reading about others, as well as chatting it up with friends---is probably exactly how I stay sane.

The question of sanity came about half a year ago, when I put up my post about my daughters and their fun with jokes and science experiments. That post won me a Perfect Post nod (thanks Jozet! Who happens to be one of those people who has contributed greatly to my ongoing sanity by reminding me to find my sense of humor about it all) and two questions from "lildb" of I obsess, a blog that I have bookmarked and love to check in on regularly:

two things; the first being, how do you stay sane? I'm not necessarily angling for an honest answer on that. the second thing: how will I manage when I'm in a similar predicament? again, no answer necessary, as I'm already screwed in the sanity dept


It's taken me a while to answer...but now I shall. I stay sane by remaining in good company. And I am in very good company, indeed.

The Beatles were on to something when they sang about getting by with a little help from my friends, and Hilary wasn't too far off when she said it took a village.

Is this the key for everyone? Perhaps not. But it is for me.

I have a lot of introvert in me and have been known to turtle. I also am an INTJ sort so have been known to overanalyze to death. Sometimes I feel like a balloon loosed from a little hand, floating powerless, to who knows where.

My network of friends can be a bigger hand that reaches up to grasp the errant string, and pull my loosed balloon mind back to earth.

They are great for this when I feel extra challenged, which is frequently. And it ends up being a pay it forward situation. I discovered this again, last night, out with my mom friends.

A new friend happened to hear me mention (for who knows what reason) my experience with Patience and her past battles with consistent constipation, potty issues from it, and a long dependence on Miralax which we ultimately broke. My experience with this is behind me, and her experience with it is just beginning. As we talked---she telling her tale and me, mine, providng as much support and reassurance as I could---I saw in her face the relief of, "Oh thank goodness...someone who understands, has been there, done that and lived to tell about it," that I have felt so frequently.

You find that it's not crazy, I'm not crazy, my kid isn't crazy...and you somehow are once again cosseted in the comforting familiarity of sanity, and confidence in, "We can get through this, too," and "This too shall pass."

I have ample opportunity to reach out, lots of story fodder, thanks to my children, who are often described as "very creative" and "full of lots of character" and "big personalities" which I understand are often euphemisms, but I have decided we ought to take these things on and own them!

Here's a quick recap of some of our adventures, which I have blogged about here:

The challenges aka Potential Lowlights

What scares me? Jokes and science experiments... in which my children play with a Barbie, creatively, and reveal that their idea of "funny" and mine do not at all coincide

In which I ask my childrenThe Dumbest Question in the World, Bar None, Hands Down, Ever, "What in the WORLD were you THINKING?"

When the husband and kids are home alone, in which my husband is left to his own devices, and must get the children ready and to school by himself, Persistence is arrested by the SPCA, and I am regarded oddly as I mutter to myself over and over, out loud, in public, healthy curiosity, not a sign of future sociopathy

Potty Experiment #2, in which my toilet obsessed children have more fun with potties, except this time, it's someone else's

Call Sherlock! The Great Powder Caper, Part Onze, in which my children decide a fun way to spend the end of the summer is by playing a very naughty version of Blue's Clues

No joke...another science experiment aka Glowing Mommy Moment #5382 aka Grills Gone Bad, the title says it all

I hate candy, or I Once Again leave My Husband and Children to their own Devices, in which I renew my vow to ban both spousal free will and candy from the house forever

In which I admit to an utter loss of sanity and discover the bribery of Twizzlers

The Rewards aka Potential Highlights

Poetry in motion in which I compose (she says, extremely humbly) an ode (which immediately undermines the aforementioned humility) to my daughter's dancing

Heaven, she said in which I display some of Patience's amazing thought processes that leave me gaping, in the dust

My daughter's haiku, in which I revel in the beauty of my children, and they revel in the beauty of the world around them

Confessions of a loving mommy...who doesn't love a sleeping child?

Pretty little death machine, in which Patience once again wows me with her amazingly complex concepts

Mine!, in which Persistence displays how one word carries a wealth of meaning

In which Patience plays a game of Miss Muffett

Persistence at eight months old

Persistence walking

What are your big sanity savers? However do you stay sane?

copyright 2007 Julie Pippert

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7 comments:

bubandpie said...

I remember that toilet-science-experiment post! Seriously, it was one of my favourite perfect posts ever - but that was before I knew you, so I didn't realize until now that it was you.

None of the friends my mom grew up with - her inner circle of lifelong friends - had children: the only exception was one friend who adopted quite a bit later in life, so not necessarily useful for camaraderie and support. I was always struck by what an odd coincidence that was, but only recently have I understood how hard that made things for her. She's always amazed at the support I am surrounded by - free play groups to drop in on every day of the week, friends with children only weeks older or younger than my own, information on everything from breastfeeding to co-sleeping readily available at my fingertips... I can't imagine how she stayed sane (I find it hard enough as it is!).

Mrs. Chicky said...

Blogs have saved my sanity on more than one occasion. Which continue to surprise me, given the strange medium in which to make friends, soul mates even. When the veil is dropped we all see each other more clearly, which again is strange given I Can't See Any Of You. :)

Mad Hatter said...

Damn! Now I have to go back and read some of these. I am especially intrigued by the "Pretty Little Death Machine." Time, oh, time!!!

As for the community aspect of parenting: I find that I take comfort in part from (as you say) knowing I am not the first one to go through this BUT ALSO that I am not the first parent to want to talk/write about it in great detail. I am sometimes overwhelmed by my own desire to fully live this parenting experience.

BTW, I linked to your porn-star Barbie post recently. I should've popped over to tell you but somehow forgot when I left my last comment. It's in the Tea Pary post.

Julie Pippert said...

Mad, you just reminded me of an important point I *meant* to make!

On an Ally McBeal episode, Ally is as usual angsting and Georgia asks something along the lines of why everything that happens to Ally is such a big deal, everyone has things happen. I was applauding Georgia, but I applauded Ally more when she said, "because it's happening to ME!"

I am always careful to not downplay (I sincerely hope I am anyway) when a parent is worrying or angsting just because I have already been there and done that. I keep in mind, yeah sure, me and millions of oter parents have already BTDT, but this is this person's FIRST TIME and it's happening to THEM, right now.

It's one thing that we've felt similarly, but that doesn't make it the same, or any less of an experience for that person.

KWIM?

As to this, "I am sometimes overwhelmed by my own desire to fully live this parenting experience. "

Oh well put!

Thanks for the link!

Julie Pippert said...

B&P, yeah that was me, how funny! Thanks for the compliment!

You know, what an interesting turn that your mom ended up solo like that. It must have been really hard, especially since they were lifelong friends, but also to lack these close relationships as peopel who got where she was.

I know people who have been or are in that boat. My sister for example was the first of her crowd to have children. She dealt with a lot of well-intentioned ignorance of what her obligations were.

She made new friends, in a playgroup and was fortunate for that.

The support and camaraderie is crucial to me I think. It troubles me when I hear of and from people who feel isolated.

Mrs. Chicky, hail fellow well (but strangely?) met is sort of how I feel about the Internet sometimes. I like how you said it better! It does make the pen seem much mightier than the sword doesn't it, to see how much words can mean, and how much we find ourselves realting to the people who said them, even if we've never seen or met the person.

Lotta said...

Great post links! I stay sane by blogging and most recently by hiring a teenage sitter so I can date my husband again!

lildb said...

you know I am in agreement.

and you know this.