Yesterday was a lesson in digging below my irritation at baby’s choices to understand what might be going on in her world. It was a chance to put aside my own need for control and be a parent who meets her child’s needs.
Yesterday, baby did not want to leave the house. At all. I had planned blueberry picking, grocery shopping, maybe gardening or packing upstairs. Nuh uh. Attempts to get ready to leave the house were met by tears, physical evasion or passive resistance: “I’m busy playing and doing stuff and I don’t hear a word you’re saying, mama!” I tried different tactics, talked, reasoned, shared the fun we would have, probably bribed, likely raised my voice, and finally, sulkily, threw my hands up (literally, I believe) and said fine. We will stay home.
Then I took a deep breath, stepped back, and got some perspective. It’s been a busy time for baby. 4 days a week at nana’s house; mom gone a bit on weekends for meetings; dad working late late late and barely seeing her (for which we are never-endingly grateful, let me add). It’s now her weekend and she wants nothing more than to stay home with her mom. Frankly, I can’t blame her. She is definitely her mother’s daughter. After too much time away, a day spent nursing, playing in the safe warm cozy contained sphere of home, cuddling in bed, with her own toys, must be essential to resetting her emotional clock.
We stayed home aaaaaaall day. We made a banana cake. Again, I had to put aside my plans (eat breakfast first???) because she needed us to make that cake right then. So she peeled and helped mash bananas, stirred the flour and oiled the pan. We did some drawing. We played with toys. We changed sheets and did laundry. She helped sweep. We read lots. We played lots in bed. She napped for 3 hours. We ate bits and pieces. It was good. And, knowing that this was something she needed and something we were going to do, I let go of my plans and found what I could do at home.
With my current reflections on parenting, I’m finding it interesting to reflect on how other parents might view this. I can absolutely see parents saying that children need to listen; that parents need to lead; that coddling results in spoiled kids; that kids need to learn to respect that adults have plans. I hear those arguments, and I do agree that there are times when kids need to do things. I just know that that style is not me. My daughter let me know as best she could what she needed emotionally. I listened. I could have forced her, which would have involved many tears and physically restraining her. I’m not into that. I don’t like what it teaches kids when we use aggression with them. This felt like a big need, not a whim. And I don’t mind if you’d choose differently.
Letting go and tuning in brings its rewards in the amazing things I see in her. Just one I must share – her new favourite song:
“A, b, c, now I know your a, b, c, next time won’t you sing with me in my arms!”
My little love :).