27 February 2009

Raising a Child: Do We Really Need to Go It Alone?

Child care. We weren't meant to go it alone. Super Mom who gets the kids ready for school, packs her lunch, the kid's lunch, and the father's lunch, pays the bills, goes to work, does the grocery shopping and makes dinner and still manages to look stylish and be well read and...

And what? Is there room for anything else? What? This isn't your ideal of utter fulfillment?

I alluded to this feeling in my earlier blog post, "What I Want To Read: The Mommy Brain." I want there to be more for me. OF me. Hey, who the heck IS me? Sometimes I find myself wondering that very question.

Since that last post, I do recognize that becoming a mother has made me a smarter and more efficient person. We've joked with friends that we could have cured cancer in all the free time we had before kids. What on earth were we doing? Suddenly that difficult person in the office isn't nearly so difficult to deal with. After all, you can close your office door, not answer the email, or leave at 5 o'clock. Your toddler, who doesn't comprehend major concepts like "in a minute" or "share," will be there for the next 18 years.

But how do I find that time to cultivate me? I'm learning that the answer is not "finding" the time, but "making" the time.

This involves shaking off the notion that good mommies love being with their children 24-7.

A lot of what's written about childrearing assumes that a 24-7 at-home mom is the gold standard. But Leach points out that the mother-only care model is the artifact of a very brief period (the 1950s) and was so untenable that it quickly brought on a social revolution. Humans weren't meant to raise their young in isolation.
--from Book Review: 'Child Care Today' by Penelope Leach (Sara Sklarof, washingtonpost.com, 2/22/2009)
Since we lack family close-by, Rodney and I, like many other parents, need to make and find our own local family. But spending an evening with a squirmy toddler isn't everyone's cup of tea. It helps to have experience with these demanding, exuberant creatures. And, if you've lived through toddler drama, you may not be willing to sign-up again. I feel guilty foisting Zora on somebody.

The key word here is "guilt." "Guilt" prevents me from doing what I most need to do: ask for help.

Help. Zora is driving me nuts.

Help. I need some time to myself. ( And I don't mean the five minutes I take once every three months to close the bathroom door and shave me legs. I'm talking real time here.).

Sometimes I get mad and resent Rodney because he asserts his needs so freely. Without guilt. I think to myself, well, I can handle it, why can't he? But maybe what I should be asking myself is this: why don't I speak up and say what I need? Afterall, I don't need to do it alone.

25 February 2009

Hagelslag Face

She simply licks the hagelslag (Dutch chocolate sprinkles) off and tosses the bread aside. A purist if I ever saw one.

11 February 2009

Hiking in Great Falls, Va.

09 February 2009

Tough Love and The Remorseless Toddler

Folks say that when raising a child, don't forget that you're the boss. You're not there to be her friend. Blah blah blah. But what do you do when you tell your 18-month-old, "No, don't eat quarters," "No don't throw cous cous on the floor," "No, don't smack on the cat," and she just flagrantly laughs in your face and continues eating quarters, throwing cous cous, smacking the cat?

I'm not convinced she gets the timeout thing, yet. I put her in the corner last week and she decided that the velcro on her sneakers was endlessly entertaining -- hardly a punishment of biting me for not getting her way.

From what I've read, repetition and consistency are key, as is a Zero Tolerance Bite Policy. Until that lesson "clicks," we'll have to endure life with our adorable, red headed sociopath.

06 February 2009

Feeding Zora

Click on the image to enlarge.