April Jeppson: Parenthood — It’s not easy, but you get better at it

Published 10:38 pm Thursday, July 26, 2018

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


The smell of fried food hits me immediately as I walk through the gates of the Rochester Honkers stadium. The organ music gets louder as we climb the stairs to our seats. I don’t even realize the smile spreading across my face until my cheeks begin to hurt. Oh my goodness, do I love baseball. The last time my husband and I attended a game together was when I was 8 months pregnant with our first child, 10 years ago.

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I’m slightly ashamed that this is the first time any of my three children have attended a baseball game. I grew up on baseball. We would stay awake as long as we could to watch the Twins play in the World Series. My best friend and I were statisticians for our brothers’ baseball team. I’ve attended more Twins games than I can recall, and I even played softball in high school. Yet, here I am with my three children for the first time.

The kids were beyond excited to find out that we would be going to a real game, not just watch one on TV. You would have thought we were heading to Disneyland with the level of excitement they possessed, which makes me wonder why we waited so long. In fact, if my in-laws weren’t in town this weekend, we still wouldn’t have experienced this with my family.

Why? Because I have anxiety. I cope by simply avoiding anything that might trigger me, like new situations and places. I just don’t go. Here’s the kicker, I love new situations, people, places. I crave it. The energy of the new and unknown is amazing — when I’m on my own.

Something happened after having my first child. Perhaps it was the time where I couldn’t find a suitable place to sit and nurse my child, so I had to feed him while sitting on a toilet in a public restroom. Have you ever had to breastfeed an overly hungry infant while listening to and smelling people poop? Yeah, it’s horrible. Or maybe it was the time where I parked at the wrong entrance and had to carry my screaming child across the entire length of the Coralville, Iowa, mall. I kept waiting for a mall cop to ask me if I was stealing someone else’s kid. Or maybe it was that time I tried to go grocery shopping with my newborn, still buckled in her car seat, and my 3-year-old. My toddler just decided he was over it and proceeded to throw an all-out fit right in the produce department. There he was, screaming and kicking for all the world to see, and I couldn’t figure out how to get him and my 2-month-old out of the store.

I have shed so many tears in my vehicle after situations like this, so I guess I just stopped leaving the house with my kids. I would rearrange my life so I could run my errands without them. I grocery shopped at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. I never saw the inside of my bank or a McDonald’s, and I most certainly never took them to a baseball game.

My children are not extra difficult, and my situation is not unique. If you are a parent, then you can relate and we could sit down for hours and share horror stories. I have many friends who continue to take their kids everywhere and they just deal with it. I, for whatever reason, couldn’t cope and roll with it. I froze.

My children are older, and I’m realizing the circumstances that paralyzed me are not the same circumstances I’m currently living in. I’ve lived here for seven years and took my kids to the city pool for the first time this summer. I was nervous and almost sick with anxiety, but I knew I had to do it.

My close friends know how I can be, so one of them arranged to meet me there. She told me where to park, how much it would be, what to pack and not pack. I probably asked her 20 ridiculous questions, but she answered every one and calmed my nerves. When I got there I was pleasantly surprised and our afternoon was, dare I say, glorious. We all loved it so much that we went back the following week. I couldn’t believe it took me that long to do something so simple as going to the pool. But it did.

I’m thinking of all the places or events that I’ve avoided because of my kids, and it saddens me. I’m bummed that I couldn’t be a cooler mom, a mom that was more relaxed and chill. I’m working on it, though. My kids are still young and they might not even remember this side of me. Or maybe they will remember that one time mom freaked out in the car after leaving the park — who knows.

I do know that I had a lot of fun at that baseball game. I  know my kids had fun, too. The sounds, the smells, staying up past their bedtime. My 4-year-old did throw a little fit towards the end of the night, but I’m glad I didn’t skip the game in anticipation of it. I’m better at this parenting thing than I give myself credit for, and I know you are too. So if you’re still in the thick of it, and you can’t see the light at the end, take a deep breath and know that it doesn’t necessarily get easier, but you will get better at it.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.