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Things about parenting, I never realized.

The last time I posted, I still had one kid. Wow, how life has changed. In the nearly five months since, we haven't vacationed much - in fact, we barely leave the house on the weekends - and the days all seem to blend together.

Luckily, we live in a small community with a lot of friends within walking distance. So we don't have to go far to escape isolation. And though this winter has brought us a record of gray, rainy, dreary days, we have managed to find indoor adventures and learned how to dress appropriately for getting wet and muddy when we just needed to get outside.

I never realized how lonely it can be to be a parent. We spend so time with small people, who won't remember the moments that we share in a few years. I think often how our older boy won't remember his life as an only child at all. But we had so many special times with just him, moments that are for me and S to treasure and remember - good, bad, and exhausting.

I also never realized how all-consuming it is. There are at least 4 hours each day during which I cannot think about picking up my phone, opening a computer, talking to a neighbor... there's a child in need of food, a bath, or a new diaper. There's a dinner in need of cooking. There's laundry in need of managing. Oh, and maybe I need to take a shower somewhere in there too. Balancing that with a full-time job (thank goodness I'm able to take a longer leave here in Germany) is a scary thought, and one that I know will involve making a lot of sacrifices. Will I be able to go to the gym regularly? What about cooking? Will our laundry pile up and house be infinitely dirty and cluttered?

Up until I had kids, I never realized how much we parents have in common. Before I was a mom, I could do anything. Be anyone, go anywhere, and live my life as the unicorn my parents made me believe that I was. No more. Now we are just parents, trying to get through the days and do right by our children. And there are many days that I believe I'm terrible at that - I'm still not used to the constant management of tiny people whose needs are so self-focused. In this job, it is so hard not to be hard on yourself.

As part of that, I never realized how frustrated, angry, sad, happy, I could get. These emotions are so elevated with kids. Learning how to manage this new me is hard. And as I read parenting blogs to find comfort in others' experiences, I realize that sometimes... it is hard to find the joy. It's hard to believe it's worth it. It's hard to keep looking at the long view.

So I lean on the community of moms. The beauty of our sameness is that we can relate. No matter where we live, where we come from, where we plan to go next. We can relate, commiserate, share ideas, and distract. We can make it easier for each other. I never realized how grateful I could be to my fellow humans. How much I needed the support of other parents. How, when we are there to lean on each other, we can find even greater joy.

Finding friends is a skill that becomes easier with this sameness of parenthood. And while that doesn't mean it's easy at all, the community I'm learning how to build around my family - no matter where we are in the world - has been the most rewarding and enlightening part of parenthood.


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