~my thoughts about life~

Monday, May 2, 2011

Rookie Parenting

I was watching a close friend who recently became a parent for the second time.  Five years ago, she was one of those Super Moms.  Her life revolved around her daughter.  The baby only had breast milk for six months, then organic baby food.  Cheerios were not introduced until around a year of age.  The second time around, things are much different.  Her son was crawling around on the floor on Easter (she would have never let her daughter crawl...there might be germs, lint, stairs 50 feet away).  He picked up a chocolate egg and began gnawing on it, foil and all.  His mom simply sighed that she had messy hands to clean up and allowed him to proceed. 

It made me start thinking about how differently I do things with #4.  The other day, she colored on the wall.  All I did was shrug.  Several walls in our house (and the entire inside door of the van) are colored on.  So why bother scrubbing until the paint comes off?  We'll just call it artistic expression.

This same friend of mine just enrolled her daughter in Kindergarten for next year.  I commented that our daughters might be on the same bus.  "Oh no," she replied.  "I will be driving her myself."  Oh yeah...I remember those days.  I was appauled at the thought of my first child riding on a smelly, hot bus with delinquent children throwing leftover bologna sandwiches and teaching him swear words.  But now, I have three in school.  I can't imagine parking a block away and traipsing through the snow to wait in the long parent line at the door of the school.  When they walk in our
front door after school, I'm surprised it's already over.

Other things I did as a rookie parent:
  • Name brand diapers-  I paid an extra couple dollars per box for things that are used to catch my child's excrement.
  • White clothing-  Now as a parent of 4, I refuse to buy any articles of clothing that are white.  I much prefer dirt-colored things.
  • Pediatrician calls- I used to call the doctor for every sniffle, sneeze, or bump on the head.  Now, I give the child a little TLC, a kiss on the boo boo, and send them on their way.
  • Educational TV- My first son rarely watched TV.  When he did, it was PBS or some other educational program.  The television stays on for a good part of the day while Baby Girl plays.  Sometimes it's the only way I can get stuff done.
  • Nighttime checks- When Son #1 went five hours or more without waking up to eat, I would sneak into his room to make sure he was still breathing.  When #4 was a newborn, I was guilty of saying, "If she's not living now, she'll still be not living in the morning.  I might as well get my rest."  (I know, that's horrible!)
  • No sugar- My first child didn't have a taste of sugar until his first bite of cake at his birthday party.  He still turned out to be a picky eater.  So now, I allow Baby Girl to eat pretty much whatever she actually will eat.  She is the youngest of four picky eaters.  No matter what I do, no kid of mine will ever eat well.
  • Expensive toys- For his first Christmas, I spent a fortune on toys for my first kid.  He had every educational toy there was.  All of the toys were neatly organized in colored bins and on shelves and contained all the pieces.  Baby Girl's toys consist of a basket full of things like tupperware, empty chapstick tubes, puzzle pieces, random kitchen utensils she's pulled out of drawers, missing pieces to other toys, and shoes. 
  • Professional pictures every 3 months- Back then, I could whip out a stack of pictures documenting every month of his life.  Now, I can only whip out my cell phone to show you a picture of what she looked like 6 months ago when she colored all over her tummy.  Son #2 had to take a family picture into school.  I searched the house and couldn't find anything printed that would work.  I have millions of digital images, but nothing that was printed.  I considered sending him in with my laptop.
  • Fighting battles- As a first time mom, I didn't know how to choose my battles.  I thought I had to win every fight.  But now, I realize I have to let the unimportant things slide.  For example, right now Baby Girl is wearing a bathing suit instead of underwear.  Why?  Because she wants to.  Is it really worth the energy???
What have you learned throughout your years of parenting?

1 comment:

Linda said...

I love your "nighttime checks"--chuckled out loud at that one.

I think the main thing I learned over the course of 5 children was to not take myself or them so seriously. By #5 I was laughing more at their antics. After the first couple I realized what behaviors fit their ages and stopped expecting so much of them. What a relief...

And to their credit, they all survived fairly well in spite of me.