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the parenting manual

sunny 82 °F

Every mother of a toddler grieves the process of their little baby growing up. We miss the cuddles, the way they ate everything we put in front of them with enthusiasm, the way they thought we were the greatest thing ever. We long for the days of being able to browse in a bookstore while our little one snoozed in their carseat, or contently chewed on a little rubber giraffe. I remember when we had our firstborn, exhausted parents would tell us, "go out now, while you still can." We thought, what?! Going out to eat with a baby isn't so easy - you have to haul a giant diaper bag (which you prepared in advance), a stroller, several kinds of baby food, and a car seat into a restaurant and hope your baby didn't wake up or poop through their diaper or cause a scene. Little did I know that two years later, I would still have those same concerns, and generally have a harder time making my wishes come true. Now a two year old has a much more developed sense of what HE wants to do, and what he thinks is a good idea. You may think going out to pizza is the greatest thing ever, and when you arrive at the restaurant, he stubbornly digs in his heels, shaking his head, no no.

This is all very perplexing for a mother, and certainly takes a lot more finesse and compromise and inventive thinking than life with a baby. I am humbled by the realization that as one phase begins to get easier and I seem to figure out my child and myself, another phase and development comes along that completely throws me for a loop. I have discovered that parenting is one giant drawing board of trial and error for which the manuals are dramatically ill-equipped. Parenting is like putting together Ikea furniture - there are illustrations and there is some understanding of what the finished product should be like, but getting from here to there often requires some tools that you do not have. Picking up those tools as you go along is the whole key to the puzzle. The current tools I am working on are "choosing your battles", knowing when it is important to make a stand, and the art of letting go. Letting go of the baby that is now becoming a boy, and letting go of my need to be right and to have plans. Often my plans or desires are thwarted by the plans or realities of a little being who also has needs and plans and ideas. This should seem obvious, but when you are walking through Target trying to get your errands checked off for the day, and your son is vocally letting the store know that he is "all done" being there...sometimes you have to abandon the mission. At first I try to reason with him, "just five more minutes, OK, momma has something she needs to get done". "Seriously, you need to stay in the cart and wait". Hmm, this does not seem to be getting through, I think to myself. I try distraction. I try promising a trip to the park. Finally I decide, 'is getting a tube of toothpaste really worth the trouble?' And I leave a half-full cart and head home.

This challenges my sanity, because I want to be able to reason with a child, to let him know of course that I have needs too, and sometimes he has to allow me to get things done. Yes, that's what he needs to know. Hmm. Problem is, a 2 year old is not yet able to reason, so as well as I may think I explain myself, what he hears is close to the Peanuts adults saying, "Whnt whnt whnt". That's where the letting go, and the choosing of the battles comes in. Oh, and the sense of humor. I expect that sometimes my desires will not get met, and sometimes even the best intended plans do not work out. This is all an evolution; and like everything in life, the more you can learn to let go and embrace the process, the better things will be.

Posted by globalmomma 14:49 Archived in USA Tagged sunny go manual toddler needs parenting letting Comments (0)

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