On becoming a “Parent”

Before Zoe was born, I had a few gut instincts as to what type of “mom” I would be. I knew I was the more laid back type. I knew I was also more hands on. I knew that I would have some rough edges that would need smoothing out. And, for the most part, I was right. I also knew that I had no idea how to be a parent. I’ve seen good parenting. I have great parents. I have strong opinions about how I want to parent. But, I’m a rookie here. This is all new territory. I’m not of the opinion that being a parent comes natural. I don’t think that just because you love your kid makes you a good parent. Just like I don’t think that because you love your spouse makes you a good spouse. I think it takes work. I think it takes research. And I think it takes experts who know more about it than me.

That said, up til a few days ago, I never really had to do any “parenting” with Zoe. I was just her mom. Her really cool, totally awesome mom. {I’m adding that in, because I’m sure that’s how she would describe me if she could talk} Sure, we had to have a talk about how many times she could grab my hair in a given day. And we’ve also had to set a few ground rules on grabbing Mommy’s glasses. But, honestly…it’s just been a great introductory period to parenthood…slow and easy, breaking us in for the crazy ride we’re about to be on.

I’ve seen a few glimpses into how I’m going to parent, and how Brad’s going to parent. We’re complete opposites. Go figure. For example, climbing. I have never stopped Zoe from climbing on anything, even when she was trying to climb onto the counter from the couch. Instead what I do is first of all, SPOT HER! and make sure that she doesn’t fall {or at least break the fall}, and secondly {maybe most importantly}, I teach her how to climb down. There’s something in me that just can’t stop an adventurous spirit, no matter how small or great the feat, but I believe in doing in safely. Brad, on the other hand, I think his heart stopped for the first few months that Zoe would fling herself around the couch. That’s not to say that mine didn’t, it certainly did, but Brad is much more cautious in nature. And, after all, we’re talking about his little girl here. He has a right to be protective, and cautious, and sometimes lunge across a room to stop a potential tumble…and honestly, it’s a great compliment to my go with the flow nature.
Our job, as parents, isn’t to try to make the other parent a carbon copy of ourselves. It’s to merge our styles so that we’re working together rather than against each other. I have a feeling we’re going to need this in the days to come more than we ever thought.

My first clue that true parenting is just around the corner was at dinner the other day. Zoe has decided that the majority of solid food doesn’t need to come in contact with her mouth, so she started throwing her dinner onto the floor. I told her we don’t throw our food on the floor {I always talk to her like she understands what I’m saying} and asked her if she was done, she signed that she was, I confirmed the sign and then took her out of her chair. Cue screaming child. Apparently, she thought that if she was free from her highchair then she could join Mommy on her lap while Mommy ate dinner. I calmly explained that wasn’t going to happen, and she stood at my legs and cried while Brad and I finished eating our dinner. I was as cool as a cucumber. Poor Brad, he looked back and forth between Zoe and I so many times. At the end of dinner, when the plates were cleared and I picked Zoe up, he looked at me and said, “Tough love?” No, not really, it’s just that a 1 year old isn’t going to determine how dinnertime goes in our family, and she’s certainly not eating in my lap. Honestly, it was kind of exhilarating. I knew that it had been a success. I knew that just by keeping my cool when there was a screaming child at my feet was a success for me. It was like the time when I took 3 dogs to the dog park 8 months pregnant, and after the baths I had to get all the dogs into the car one-handed. That was the moment that I knew that I was going to be OK as a mom.

Dinner the other night was the first time that I knew I was going to be OK as a parent. I’m sure there will be lots of ups and downs, and moments when I don’t have another creative idea for discipline…but, it’s going to be OK. We’re going to be OK! So, bring on the toddler stage…and lots of parenting books!

Have a great Tuesday ya’ll!

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5 responses to “On becoming a “Parent”

  1. GoOOD job! So I was on Brad’s side of parenting up until that dinner scene. I am definitely more ummmm let’s call it cautious.. (we all know the word is paranoid about every little thing that can go wrong even if there is only a .00005% chance). But I am also wicked cool in dealing with fits etc. and about being the boss in the house. I thank the dogs for that one.

    • You would never know it from my reaction to Zoe’s “adventures” but the thought that something could happen to her keeps me up at night. One day I’ll do a post about all the fears I deal with as a mother.

  2. There’s something really poetic about you not stopping Zoe from climbing, but teaching her how to climb down. Lucky lady, that little one 🙂

  3. Hi
    Ran into your blog through tag surfer. Glad I did. Your posts genuinely got me hooked, especially your love story and this post. It’s wonderful that you could keep your cool and stick to the discipline strategy you employed.
    Will definitely be visiting your blog again 🙂

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