Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ying-Yang of Parenting

Too tight. Too loose. Or ju-u-u-u-u-st right.

It's a difficult balance when it comes to parenting.

We have a tendency to gravitate toward one or the other. Either we want to hold our children back from their next natural development step, or we want to push them headlong into it before they're quite ready.

Exhibit A: Let's call our mommy Jessica. She dotes on her firstborn, a boy, we'll call him Billy. Billy is just over the six month old mark, and she's been holding off on feeding him solid food. And still is.

We all know that babies don't actually need the nutrition of sold food when they first start eating, but it is a step in their progression toward eating on their own, learning to sit and swallow. It's a big step, a fun step if you're ready for it. And I've even heard of babies who resisted eating solid food at all when their parents waited a little too long when that sitting up, interested in food signal started to show itself.

Jessica, this is just one of many "firsts". One of thousands of times you're going to have to let your little boy go and start growing up. Our job is mommies, as hard and as counter intuitive as it is, is to teach our children not to need us. As soon as they come out of our womb, and that cord is cut; we're supposed to be teaching them to be independent.

Jessica, it's time to let go, hon.

Exhibit B: This mommy is mother of three going on four. She is all about her kiddos, it would be easy to say that her life is defined by them. We will call her Terry. Her oldest is a little girl, about five years old, we will call Mya.

Terry is very proud of Mya and her accomplishments and the sweet little girl that she is. As we've observed already, much of her own identity and worth comes from her children. Being as such, Terry cannot wait for Mya to not need her training wheels anymore. She has cajoled, urged, pushed, pleaded; but to no avail. Mya wants to keep her training wheels on awhile longer. They just feel safe.

Recently, Terry went ahead and took Mya's training wheels off saying, "If she can swim underwater, she should be able to ride her bike with no training wheels!"

Terry, Mya will only be a little girl for so long. And if she is telling you that she's not quite ready for this next step, a small one in the grand scheme of life; your job as her mother is to support and encourage her, but not force her. Just as we don't force our children to crawl or walk, let her take this next step when she's the one who is ready.

My summary for the jury?

One mom holding on too tight, one mom pushing too hard. But both not letting their children progress naturally. Mom, if he's ready for his next step, let him go. Mom, if she's not quite ready for that step, let her wait.

Let's stop pushing and pulling so hard, and just allow our children to grow naturally. The way they're supposed to... the way we're supposed to.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adventures in Potty-Training

So. We're potty-training.

Enough said.

Enough said, but I will say more...

Potty training with my older daughter was quite the adventure. She showed all the signs of being ready, she is totally intelligent and verbal, and I naively thought, "This won't be too bad!" I really, really tried to be realistic and my head thinking, "Potty training is challenging. There will be times of frustration. She won't pick it up right away..." But really in the back of my head I knew MY daughter is amazing and wonderful and above-average and potty-training, as with most other tasks she takes on, would be a piece of cake.

Somehow I didn't anticipate the tears, and the yelling, and unending cleaning up of mind-blowing messes.

Yes, I know potty-training isn't supposed to involve tears and yelling. "Supposed to" being the key phrase. Just like breast-feeding is supposed to be natural, and six month olds are supposed to sleep through the night, and on and on and on.

Granted, Violet did pick up potty training amazingly fast. By the second day she was going either number one or two almost every time we sat her down on the toilet! And by the end of that week was really only having about two accidents a day. I was absolutely floored!

But now we're six weeks in. And there's still good days and bad days. Today was a good day, only one major accident. Wednesday on the other hand, was a bad day. But I guess when you combine diarrhea with potty-training it would be bad for any child.

So, six weeks in we're not there yet. And that's to be expected, but it doesn't make the pee on the couch or the poop on her hand from where she sticks her hand in her dirty diaper or the bucket of stinky diapers any less frustrating. Just like when you know your extremely busy grocery store will only have three lanes open when you have a full cart and you're in a hurry. Expected? Yes. Frustrating? YES.

This too will pass....