Guest Writers

Falling Down: a #LessonLearned by Katie Sluiter

Today I have Katie Sluiter at my place, you guys! You have no idea how long I’ve been following, KT! I’ve been reading Sluiter Nation like… forever. And as soon as I learned what Twitter was I found Katie at @ksluiter. I fell in love with Katie because she was a teacher. And then I learned she struggled with postpartum depression, which I am pretty sure I had after Tech was born. I just didn’t ever get a formal diagnosis. Way back at the end of last year, Katie asked me to write something for her — which was super exciting, especially because Katie is a Big Blogger. (Even if she denies it.) Oh, if you prefer, you can follow her on Facebook.

Click on the teacher lady’s butt to read posts by other people who have written in this series.
• • •
Falling Down
• • •

As a little kid, my dad was the one who taught me how to do a lot of things: ride my bike, change a car tire, fish.

Katie learned a lot from falling down.

He also taught me to ice skate.

I remember being out on our frozen pond, bundled up in my winter coat and snow pants with my scarf covering my entire mouth so that when I talked…or breathed…it became moist and warm.

My dad had helped me lace up my mom’s old skates, took my mittened hand, and pulled me out to the open ice.

I don’t remember much of the logistics of the lesson, but I do remember falling down.

A lot.

Finally I got frustrated and whined that I was no good at skating and I didn’t want to do it anymore.

My dad pulled me up and said, “But every time you fall, you are learning. Just think of how much more you know now than you did when we started.”

I gave him the hairy eyeball, assuming he meant I knew a lot more now because I had fallen so many zillions of times.

“No, really,” he continued. “Every time you fall, you learn what not to do next time. Or at least you should.”

This lesson comes back to me every single time I “fall” in life.

But not until I pout a lot and whine about how I want to quit.

I have tripped, stumbled, and flat-out fallen as a mom. Especially when I was a new, first-time mom.

But it’s something I can’t quit. I can’t just say, “Man, I suck at this. I am done.”

Don’t think I didn’t try.

My older son, Eddie, was a difficult baby.

Ok, actually, “difficult” is putting it mildly.

He was a colicky, digestive mess.

This is Eddie being a colicky mess.

It was totally him. Not his fault, but it was him.

But I didn’t know that. Not at the time.

At the time, it was me. I was stumbling…not able to soothe him, not able to provide him with food that wouldn’t upset his tummy, not able to know what his cries meant.

I was sliding all over that iced pond not knowing what to do to keep myself off my ass and skating straight.

Every time he cried, I wanted to figure out what was wrong and fix it.

I didn’t know that sometimes? Babies just cry.

So I fell down over and over.

And I beat myself up for it. Which really, was another mistake. Another stumble.

This became a pattern with my son.

He is now almost three, and I have fallen down millions of times in my education on becoming a mother.

He has not always been the most patient teacher, but he is very forgiving.

Sometimes, my mistakes…my stumbles…are hard enough that we both fall. We both sit and cry and tend to our bruised bottoms.

But we are learning.

We are making it through.

I had no idea how awesome of a teacher he was until my second son was born in March.

Suddenly all those things that caused me to trip and fall–the crying, the spit up, the time management, the anxiety and depression–they were easier. In fact, some of them were non-existent. I skated right through them.

In fact, I am still up on my skates.

Oh, I have tripped here and there, but I have pretty much mastered the basics.

Now I am able to move on to learning fancier moves: taking both kids to Target, bringing them both to birthday parties, showering daily.
Two kids? I think I can.

(What? That was difficult the first time around!)

I still fall down from time to time.

But that’s okay.

I’m in this for the long haul.

I’m a life-long learner.

What are you still figuring out? What are some of the best lessons you have learned as a parent that you wish you had known earlier?

• • •

Tweet this Twit @rasjacobson & @ksluiter

28 thoughts on “Falling Down: a #LessonLearned by Katie Sluiter

  1. Katie! I’m so glad you are here today, talking about ice skating in June! LOL! This is one of the most beautiful posts that has been here, and I’m so lucky to finally have you. All to myself. In my little basement room. 😉 I hope everyone falls in love with you, like I did.

  2. Katie, what a beautiful analogy. I never thought of it this way but motherhood is a lot of stumbling and falling… and then getting up again, isn’t it? I still learn new things three kids in. As they grow and get older the stumbles just change!
    Renee, so nice to “meet” you… I’m going to snoop around for a bit if you don’t mind! 🙂

    1. Nice to meet you, Susi K. Feel free to poke around. I’ve asked a bunch of blogging friends to help me out as I prepare for my son’s bar mitzvah — which is in T minus 14 days, so I’ve had a lot of guest posts. I think I’ll come over and check you out, too. 😉 You sound hot.

    2. Thanks, Susi. I do still fall A LOT…especially with Eddie. But they are much fewer and far between than they used to be…thank GOODNESS!

  3. “To fall is not to fail; you fail when you don’t try.” –Superchick

    I’m not a parent, but I can apply that thought to any aspect of my life. It’s especially important when you’ve got a dream that seems impossible. Thanks for the encouraging reminder! =)

    1. oh for sure! I mean, my dad told it to me when I was like seven or something. So yeah, it’s totally a LIFE lesson, not just a parenting lesson.

  4. A lovely post, Katie. I too had PPD, but not until my twins were 6 months (I’m slow at these things). It sucked. Ironically, had I started blogging then (or knew about it – it was 2004 and I lived in Bangkok)I doubt I would have had it. I was bored and listless and feeling fairly useless.

    Anyway, I learned I need to have an outlet beyond motherhood. I need to be learning something knew or challenging myself or I start to die a bit inside.

    (Hard to believe I write humour after reading this comment!)

    Thanks for the great post.

    (Hope your back is better, Renzay!)

    1. Leanne, I am writing the chapter in my book where Adina confesses this is how she feels. And it is almost verbatim. At least your DH was open to the idea of your going back to work. Mine, not so much.

      But I found “creative ways” to keep myself busy. Like starting my own decluttering business — the stuff my book is based on. And I DID end up back in the classroom, so I guess it works out.

      I’m being very careful not to lift things. If I am a good girl, I’ll be The Dancing Queen in 2 weeks. 😉

  5. What a great analogy Katie.
    Ummm…what am I learning…that no one is perfect. I tried so hard to NOT be like my parents. I know that sounds harsh but I grew up in a troubled household. My mom was the rock but she could take only so much you know? And there were days when she’d be a shell…just like me some days. But I envisioned this perfect parent with everything cleaned, dinner ready, laundry done and still enough energy to play with a child.
    I still struggle with it. Lord do I ever.

    1. Kimberly, as I was just telling Leanne (above), I feel like Katie’s post helped me to remember all the things you are saying. Like you, there were days where I remember my mother being just ruined. I used to be much more critical about that, but now I see that I can be a little less perfect than I feel I should be. I turned out okay. (I think. Maybe.) Life wasn’t always perfect, but then we wouldn’t have these amazing stories. And like you, I still struggle with these things myself. I want my house to be perfect — and my family expects it to be. This stuff is complicated, you know. Be gentle with yourself. I’m learning to listen to the critical voice a little less. 😉

  6. What adorable babies!! And what a great lesson. Falling down is definitely the hardcore way to learn what not to do again. I have learned that I am a-ok and that as far as my kids go, it is important to give them guidance and let them make their own decisions.

    Great post!

  7. This is such a lovely post Katie and so happy to meet you here. Renee, so fantastic. It’s truly amazing what we can do and how we learn the lessons that nothing is hard or as scary as the first time. But succeed or fail we do learn and I love the end of you post which is where it’s almost as if you take flight…or perhaps you are skating off onto the pond fast and free but either way your light comes through and shines for all of us. Thank you!

  8. This is a great lesson, indeed! Through teaching piano lessons and performing here and there, many, many people have quit music lessons and then regretted it later (and then mournfully told me about those regrets). But with parenting, it’s not like we can just stop. We’re parents for life. It’s wonderful that your father gave you the foundation to keep trucking past the hard parts. It’s something to keep in mind when our kids start giving us the stinky eye. 🙂

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