You made it to Part 2, go you! If you have not yet had the “pleasure” of devouring Part 1 of this scintillating parenting dilemma saga, here is the link, pop on over.
Are other (*ahem* sometimes judgmental) folks watching?
I would love to say I live by the credo, ‘What other people think of me, is none of my business,’ but I do find myself adjusting my parenting tactics just a smidge, depending on who is watching. Is this something I am working on? Yes. Do I someday wish to be a card carrying member of the, ‘What other people think of me, is none of my business’ Club? Absolutely. But, for today, my reality is that I still somewhat care what other people think about my parenting abilities. Well, maybe not all people, but at least those nearest and dearest.
Am I divulging this tiddy bit about myself so you’ll follow my lead? No. But, if you happen to be one of my fellow parents who secretly cares a smidge, or a smatter more than a smidge, about what others think of your parenting, I want you to know that you’re not alone.
Luckily for me, I have a pretty supportive village that is helping me raise my child, and a partner who I feel comfortable engaging in sometimes exhaustingly honest conversation with, about everything, but especially our varying parenting philosophies, methods, and tricks.
Okay, so we care, maybe we don’t want to care so much about those opinions being delivered via a sideways glance, sigh, tensing of facial muscles, uncomfortable body shudder, or outright, “Do you really think that is the best choice for your child?” but we do, we care. What do we do about this? How can we remove all the external (and corresponding internal) chatter from our head and learn to follow the lead of our ‘more wise than we give it credit for’ intuition? We can start by actually listening to our intuition, and not the “sage” advice of great aunt Know-it-All. Many times, our body has a physiological response when our actions are contrary to what our intuition is telling us. My physiological response occurs in my stomach. I experience an ‘I have to poo’ and ‘I feel a tad nauseous’ combo when my actions contradict my intuition, especially if my little sweet noisy angel is involved. Now, every time I feel that pang in my stomach, I head to the bathroom, or I make a conscious decision to listen to my intuition, even if it elicits a sideways eye twitch from an on-looker.
Am I saying ‘No’ just for the sake of saying No?
Even when we are a self proclaimed ‘yes person,’ we sometimes fall into the habit of saying ‘no’ to everything, especially when it’s related to our precocious baby wanting to flex their newly developed skills, or draw on the wall with paint pens.
One day, when I was home alone with Hudson, I suddenly noticed, to my horror, that the only word I had muttered all day was ‘no;’ horrified. Most of my ‘no’s were justified, but it didn’t matter. I was in the process of creating a ‘no baby,’ and he most certainly was born a ‘yes baby,’ who am I to suck the ‘yes’ out of him? I needed to change my tune, or at least my language.
First off, I made the commitment to myself to actually process what Hudson was requesting before shooting off a ‘No.’ Am I saying no just because what he is asking for is an inconvenience to me, or am I saying no to protect the body or property of another living being? If, my ‘no’ originated from my desire to not be inconvenienced, I needed to seriously reconsider that ‘no.’ I want my child to learn, grow, and experiment; if that means I need to clean up the occasional/’all the time’ mess, so be it, my baby is in his lab doing extremely important experiments with his new world, and I spend a few minutes cleaning up the aftermath, no biggie.
If the purpose of the ‘no’ I was about to spit out was to protect another, or their stuff, it was justified, but I needed to rephrase my ‘thall shall not pass’ response. What was my baby learning from the word ‘no?’ To say ‘no?’ That needed to change. I needed to become a participant, not just an observer, in my child’s development. Instead of saying, ‘No, you can not throw your uncle’s keys in the ocean,’ I rephrased it to, ‘I can see that you have the desire to throw something in the ocean. I need to take these keys from you because your uncle uses them to drive his car. If they’re in the ocean, he no drive no car. If you would like to throw something in the ocean, here is a nice big sea shell that is too big for you to choke on.’ Okay, my ‘no’ replacement usually isn’t so wordy, but you get the idea. Instead of saying my robotic ‘no,’ I started to tell little one why I needed him to not do that, and redirect his attention over here, to the sand castle that is waiting to be squashed.
Is the ‘Yes’ I’m giving more for my benefit or his?
On the flip side of the previous few paragraphs, it’s easier to just say yes, well, at least in the short term. In my desire to go from being the ‘no mom’ to ‘yes mom,’ my consents to baby requests began to get out of hand. I started to become addicted to the ease of saying ‘yes’ to questionable requests.
Baby: (Point point point, frustrated grunts.) While trying to reach the remote control that was sitting just out of his chubby handed reach.
Me: (After baby’s eleventh grunt-turned-high-pitch-wail) “Okay fine, here’s the remote.” (Hand him the remote, after removing the batteries.)
Baby: (Grin, and waddle away with his newly acquired precious.)
Me: (Peace and quiet, happy sigh.)
A moment later, the vibrations of a watery kerplunk reach my inner ear and I remember the small tub on the porch that is filled with the perfect ‘remote killing’ elixir, water. It was a goner. I rushed outside and immediately regretted my decision to say ‘yes’ to the ‘I want that thing with buttons’ request from baby, and ‘yes’ to the lazy voice within me that said, ‘Just dump out the tub of water tomorrow.’ Although the yes’ seemed easy at the time. I now had to find time to drive forty five minutes to the ‘Dead Remote Replacement Center,’ so I could watch my ‘so bad it’s good’ TV shows on the rare nights baby is asleep and Eric is working. (He only likes good TV, and baby only likes no TV.)
As this ‘remote in water,’ and similar occurrences, began popping up in direct relation to a ‘yes’ I had dolled out absentmindedly, I realized I needed to put a reign on my use of the ‘y’ word. I was giving an affirmative response to requests my intuition knew I should decline, which would then cause me to turn around and deliver a big fat, ‘NO, don’t do the natural thing a toddler would want to do with that object I just let you have.’ I was confusing my child and myself. Solution? I still say ‘yes’ way too much, and get myself into tricky ‘take backsies’ situations, but not as often. I now attempt to take a pause, and mentally run through the most likely scenario my ‘yes’ will elicit, before spitting out a, ‘Sure, do whatever you want, eat that piece of chocolate cake on the white carpet.’ If my logic and intuition throw back a, ‘Duh, no,’ I muster up the brain power and creativity to find some other fabulously awesome activity my son, and my intuition, will love.
Is it healthy?
Back to the cheesy chocolate cake mentioned in Part 1; should I let the baby try some of the cake he so obviously desires? As I attempted to ponder this question, through the cacophony of baby wails, I spotted a bushel of broccoli sitting on the countertop. Hmmm…. I further pondered, ‘Is it the cake that he wants, or the something new that he wants? He’s never had broccoli before…it’s a long shot, but I’ll try it.’ I sauntered over to the tiny uncooked green trees on the counter and did my best ‘ohh look at this yummy morsel’ performance, and slowly passed over a small batch of the broccoli to my now quizzical baby. He hesitantly reached out and grasped the broccoli, thoroughly examined it, and gave me the most satisfying grin I’ve ever received. He commenced to take a small bite, spit it all over the floor, and walked out of the kitchen leaving a trail of pulverized broccoli behind him. Was I upset? Absolutely not; my child no longer wanted cake and I had the ‘Mommy Aha Moment’ (that I’m sure all you smart parents had long ago,) that if my baby had the unrelenting desire for a new object or activity, that I had no desire to grant him, I could just offer him something else “new”, that was healthy and/or (somewhat) safe; or I could still revert to simply say a firm, ‘NO.’
This parenting thing is hard. But, I’m smiling right at this moment, as I hear my baby opening and escaping through the bedroom door he learned to open this morning, because this is the best non-job job I’ll ever have.