16 June 2007

Pile of Milestones

We are a house of milestones. Every time we arrive at putting on a shirt, zipping a boot, descending stairs, we get smarter, more confident in our parenting. Then we have a new set of skills to master, a new type of tantrum to face. And we question ourselves.

Stella is completely diaper free. She’s been 5 nights in “unterVear.” Last night she gave away the rest of her diapers to a friend. She’s really excited about pooping in the toilet. So much so that she waits to flush (another favorite activity) and runs to her father or grandmother and says, “Look, I pooped. Come see!” She then leads them to the bathroom. Once when Augusto was at work, I convinced her that saving her stinky poop in the toilet all day was not a good option, she drew a picture of it. A really good picture. Her first representational picture. I’m a proud mother, what can I say?

Posted by Picasa

Otto is laughing at Boo and Raspberries, flipping over onto his belly at every chance, doing push-ups and breakdancing (the wave?). He’s working on some teeth. He’s also sleeping longer stretches of 5 or 6 hours. They’re happening mostly before I go to bed, but I know it’s a start. After three plus weeks of travel, sleeping in a small bed with him, and sharing a room for all four of us, he became a boob monster and baby who needed too much parenting to sleep. So instead of following the progress to a likely place of jiggling or nursing for 45 minutes before bed every night, we started crying it out. He’s 3 month’s younger than Stella was when we did it to her. He’s never really cried more than 30 minutes in his whole life, but I don’t want to get to that awful angry place we went with Stella before we finally caved and let her cry to sleep learn to sleep on her own. Ideally, we would have completed the job before the Vovos (grandparents) arrived, but we didn’t. For naps and nighttime he usually fusses and/or cries for 5 or 6 minutes- but it ranges from 1 to 14 minutes. It is hard to listen to, but I do believe it is ultimately good. Or else my kids will need years of therapy to undo all of our parenting mistakes.

It’s so hard to know what is “right.” It’s also hard to let go or stop worrying about what is “right.” Every parent chooses her own way to teach, discipline, feed, clothe, diaper, talk to, or even play with their child. Of course we want “the best” for our kids. But that judgment varies widely. I have spent countless privileged hours researching schools, sleep tactics, diaper choices, baby carriers, recipes, and even toddler chair and table heights. I have stayed up hours later than is good for me, twisted my neck and shoulder out of whack, and lost actual face to face time with my husband or kids or even other people. Sometimes I think it pays off. We end up with a product or routine that works for us. But how can I really know if I wouldn’t have been as happy (or happier?) with something entirely different?

I need to remember that every time we let go of our expectations or fears, something good happens. Like with diapers. I wanted Stella to be out of diapers before Otto was born. Then soon after. Then I gave up. That’s when she mounted the toilet at my Mom’s house. It is the same thing with preschool. I stressed so much in the beginning, found a fantastic school, stressed more about it, missed the deadline for mailing in our deposit, kicked myself, then got waitlisted at our “inferior” neighborhood school because we’re not a “working class” family that wants 5 days/ week. So I just gave up. Then a new school opened that I think we’ll love when we see it next weekend. Will it be perfect? Will it be right? Will it be better for Stella than Montessori or any of the half-day (which doesn’t work for a working couple like us), wait-forever pay-a-fortune schools in our area? I don’t know. And I think I don’t care- as long as she loves it.

No comments: