Because the important moments in life just don’t fit in a status update! I started this blog when I was training for my first ½ Ironman, (70.3 miles) to record what I hoped would be growth and progress but ended up being a huge learning experience. Although fitness is one of the key ingredients to a happy life, it certainly isn't the only ingredient. My blog has evolved to document growth, progress and setbacks in other areas too. From my surprise proposal in Rome and wedding in the fall of 2013, to Mom's devastating stage IV cancer diagnosis and death 2 weeks after I found out I was pregnant. Who knows what shape it will take, but thanks for being along for the ride.
Monday, June 9, 2014
Parenting Interview with Mom
I have always wanted to be a Mom. I can even remember dreaming about it when I was in elementary school. Now that we have begun the IVF journey, imagining being a Mom conservatively occupies at least half of my waking thoughts. I find myself reflecting on different parenting styles I've read about and studied in my developmental psychology courses, and of course my main template on how to be a Mom: my own Mom, who has always had the patience of a saint.
There are a ton of theories and parenting styles out there. I'm currently reading a lot about RIE and loving it. But for every study "proving" a certain idea or theory is right, you can find a different study showing that your child will end up in prison if you follow it. I imagine that it could drive any new Mom crazy, and I don't want that to happen to me! While there's nothing wrong with reading different tips or techniques, there really is no right or wrong way to parent, as long as you underscore everything you do with love and attention.
Mom has always said that you cannot spoil a child if they have enough love and affection. Children who are "spoiled" are ones who are given material things instead of what they really need: your time. And time was something Mom gave in abundance. She was a stay-at-home Mom, and always there when I returned home from school. I don't remember her ever yelling or even raising her voice; not once. Some people think that if you don't discipline children enough, they will be defiant. But my brother and I never were. We didn't do things wrong, not because we were afraid of getting in trouble, but instead because we didn't want to let Mom down.
While I remember a lot about my teenage years, and know that Mom remained my very best friend by listening and always being interested in what was going on in my life, I obviously don't remember anything about how she parented me when I was a newborn and toddler.
And so, I decided to interview her. Rather than just reading parenting books, why not glean some tips from the very best?
What did you love about the infant stage?
Well with you, it was coming across country when you were two weeks old and we camped. I loved the clean clothes, the smell of baby powder, talking, and holding you. I loved the fact that I was a mother. I loved holding you the most. You may have been a few months old and I would take vegetable oil and rub it into you skin. I think that's why you like massages.
How did you handle the lack of sleep?
It was okay - I just feed you every 3-4 hours and I didn't have to go to work so I could just relax on the couch if I was tired.
Some people believe in letting babies cry. Do you?
I always picked you up because there is a reason you cry. Babies don't just cry to cry, they are uncomfortable for some reason. Hungry, wet, or even just bored.
What did you love about the toddler stage?
I loved picking out outfits and sewing us matching outfits. I kept you busy when I was sewing or knitting; you were always in sight with your toys. Up on Vineyard, we used to play school. We would make the bed together and sing the alphabet, finger paint, and you loved it. I tried to prevent accidents rather than have one. I put pillows around when you were crawling. And Dad put hooks on cupboards when you could walk, but you got into them anyway. So I moved any cleaners up high, and let you play with pots and pans. I don't remember saying "don't touch." You started walking on your birthday. I loved seeing you getting older. It went by too quickly.
What was difficult of challenging? Do the "terrible twos" exist?
No. You were no different at two than you were at one or at three. Like today, I was at the MRI and I looked at this mother who has a baby and her daughter who is about 3 is pumping hand sanitizer. The Mom was so focused on her iPad that she was ignoring her. Then daughter came over to rub it on the Mom's arm and the Mom stops, annoyed, and yells what are you doing? And then goes back to her iPad. And I think that even before iPads, people were like that. Attention is what is important. When children don't get enough, that's when they act out and do anything to get attention, good or bad. In the old days there were distractions too, like the newspaper, telephone, cooking, etc.
How did you potty train me?
I just let you follow me into the bathroom. There was no potty training. I put your potty down, and if you wanted to use it, you did. You were two when you were trained. There was no pressure put on you to use the toilet and you learned by observing. During the day, you wore knickers.
Give me an example of a time I did something wrong, and how you handled it.
When you hid under a turn-style thing in the store and I thought you had been taken, I yelled because you scared me. I can't remember anything else.
So, safe to say I didn't do anything wrong?
I can't remember (laughing).
Okay I must not have then, moving on.
We just got along. We were like friends when you were a baby. We were pals. I had company. I didn't have a Mom or Dad there or any siblings in the country, and Dad was at work. I just was with you. In high school it was even more important. We would sit for two hours, talking about your day. I didn't make time for you, I just had time for you. I wanted to know whatever you wanted to tell me.
What did you love about the elementary school years?
The involvement. You were doing so good, and I was excited about how much you were learning. I would get the house clean and you would come home and have pictures, and I would put them on the fridge. You would get your pictures taken twice a year and I loved sending them to Ireland and England. When you were in middle school, I wanted to bake cupcakes for the class on Valentine's Day and you said no. It was too mushy, but in elementary school, I could do all of that. I loved making favors for school, like when Glen was in 1st grade and I made every kid in his class a ghost hand puppet out of white sheets.
Any other advice?
Just have patience. It doesn't mean give in to anything, but everything is a learning experience. Even a trip to the store, feeling and touching the fruit. You've waited so long for the baby. When the baby comes along, the newness wears off but you have to keep you commitment and be there for what is now your best friend. Appreciate the time because it goes soo fast. They fly by, so enjoy them.
Posted by Megan Swanek