The prompt for this month’s theme post asks:
What kind of parent am I or do I want to be? If you’re already a parent, what kinds of things work for you now? Did they always? Has your view of what kind of parent you are changed? If you’re pregnant or TTC, have you given this topic much thought? What is your style likely to be? Are you a structure sort of person? Will you or did you cry-it-out? Will you or did you try to get your baby on a schedule? Did you or will you demand feed? Did you or will you subscribe to a method like Attachment Parenting or Babywise or some other method? Do you think you can spoil a baby by holding it too much?
I suppose I’ve thought about this some, but not in great detail. Being, and staying, pregnant should obviously lead to that train of thought, but frankly I’ve gotten about as far as reading up on natural childbirth, and not much further – yet. It’s been hard for me to picture us parenting. It’s getting better as I get bigger, and the other current PAIL project (book club, wheee!) is helping, too. We are reading Bringing Up Bebe
(sorry, not hunting for e’s with accent marks) by Pamela Druckerman. I’m not finished reading yet – in fact I just started, but so far, I am actually liking it. I wasn’t sure what my preconceived notions were from the description and sample – I sort of thought I was going to either love it or hate it for being overly judgmental toward everything I haven’t even had a chance to try yet. Not being even halfway through yet, I’m reserving final judgement. I don’t think I’ll use it as my go-to parenting manual, necessarily, but so far there is definitely at least one thing I think I’d like to incorporate into my…I don’t even know what to call it – that’s funny. Style? Method? SURVIVAL TACTICS! I’ll not get specific yet, since I’ll be writing about the book again once I’m done reading it.
I think what I’d like to aim for as a parent is a sense of balance. Of course being a mother will change me, and parenting will probably be our primary focus, but I’d like it to not fully consume and obliterate everything else that we enjoy. I don’t want to be a mother who has nothing going on other than mothering, basically. I think it’s important for kids to be able to see their parents as people
, not just as parents (or their servants, as I think happens in a lot of cases). I want to trust my kid(s? so greedy of me). I haven’t read the book itself, but from what I have read about it, I like the idea of Free Range Kids
, as I think that’s how my parents pretty much approached it. Granted, it was twenty-five to thirty years ago, but we were allowed to roam the neighborhood (not every house was assumed to be inhabited by a pedophile) on foot and on bicycle (WITHOUT HELMETS, GASP!), and did not always have direct parental supervision of playtime. It’s not that there were no rules or expectations (far from it), but we were not helicoptered by any means. Even into adolescence, if I was keeping my grades (way) up, which I did, I wasn’t given a lot of restrictions on what I did with my free time. Not saying I had great judgement (are teenagers supposed to?) – I was really
good at being bad and not actually getting in trouble. Plenty of sex, drugs, and rock and roll (let’s not talk about the country music phase – we’ll pretend that never happened). But I survived, without any major damage, I think. That’s basically what I want for my kid(s) – to of course keep themselves safe, but to not be afraid to experience life. I plan to be more open and honest about the sex and drugs part with him/them than my parents were with us (not that my parents were puritanical in any deliberate way – they simply said nothing about those things at all, ever, unless my shenanigans forced them). Hopefully not as much will be hidden from me as I hid from my parents. It’s gonna happen, I figure, and while ignorance may be bliss – it could also lead to disaster. Luckily I was just a fairly normal amount of self-destructive and stupid and not bent on actual destruction. Actually, that’s probably not so much luck as proof that my parents did an awful lot very well.
As far as my plan for the beginning, I’m hoping to be as flexible as possible, hopefully without creating unsustainable sleep and eating patterns. I like the idea of attachment parenting (or as much as I know of it – the baby-wearing and bonding, not spanking, etc.), and I do NOT think you can spoil an infant by holding it too much (though I don’t think you need to necessarily pick up a baby within 5 seconds of a whimper, either – self-soothing is a necessary development as well). This reminds me of a comment Mike’s dad made at Christmas, actually. Mike’s cousin and his wife’s son was about six months old at the time, and after we left the family dinner gathering, my father in law noted that the baby was “pretty well-behaved.” I sputtered and choked on the inside, because…yes, while I suppose infants technically exhibit behaviors, but I don’t think you could ever fairly criticize a six month old as behaving badly, either. I’m no expert on infant development, but I don’t think that babies can be manipulative. They’re just learning and surviving for the most part. So even if the kid was having an awful day and cried and fussed the entire time, I don’t think you should really have much to say about it (unless of course you’re also witnessing parental abuse/neglect).
I do not like what I’ve read about Babywise. I’m not assuming I’ll never turn to Ferber or cry-it-out, but the criticism for Ezzo’s methods just listed on the wiki page are enough to turn me quickly in the opposite direction. Or at least hope to feel confident enough to go with my best guess, knowing that there are plenty of guides and gurus out there to consult as necessary. I don’t want to have so much of a plan in place that any necessary deviation throws a bunch of other stuff out of whack and I feel like we have to start all over. I want to learn as I go (without hopefully fucking anything up too badly…like maybe his very first word shouldn’t be fuck, as my mom half-jokingly mentioned while we were stroller shopping/researching). With breastfeeding, yes, I suppose I’ll start out feeding on demand, but then hopefully get him on a schedule by two to three months or so and get myself to pumping like crazy so that we can have some to leave with my mom during the day when I go back to work and so Mike can feed him when he wants to or when I need a break, too. If that pumping is exhausting to the point I’m not getting to enjoy my baby, then screw it, some formula there will be. I’ll be disappointed, but hopefully not crushed.
Basically, I want to try and stay flexible and balanced and not lose my shit over the little stuff. I don’t think my parents were perfect, by any means, but I feel like I have a pretty good base to build upon. I’m not going to be able to do the SAHM thing, at least in the very near future, so I want to try and enjoy as much as I can while he’s tiny – yet I have no illusion that it will all be enjoyable. Sometimes it will probably suck rather mightily, but that’s okay. I still can hardly believe I am getting to legitimately consider such questions…even if I maybe am not taking them seriously enough yet. On the other hand – I don’t want to fall into taking everything too seriously, either. It’s just really, really nice right now to be able to believe that, most likely, everything is going to be okay.