Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

On Mothering

Get ready for a whiny, self-deprecating post. Feel free to roll your eyes and refuse to indulge me.
My darling son has been watching a bit too much tv lately what with mom being sick and then him being sick himself. So today he was whining for it, handing me the remote and saying "tv?" I said, "no tv today, we're going to play and have fun" in my best cheerful mommy voice. He kept asking more and more urgently and I kept saying no until he threw the remote at me in frustration. He hit me hard on the knee. It was one of the few times so far that I have been angry with him. I said, "that hurt mommy" in an offended voice and walked away. Later I realized that this was probably a punishment-appropriate incident. Should I have given him a time-out, or taken something away, or hit him over the head with the remote (just kidding on that last one)? I suppose a time-out would have been appropriate, but I'm not sure how to go about it. He won't stay in a chair if I tell him to. I could strap him into his high chair, but I don't want him to associate punishments with eating. Locking him in the bathroom for a minute seems too mean. Should I forcefully hold him in my lap for 2 minutes? I'm not sure he'd understand what that's about.
Anyway, all this has forced me to assess my parenting skills and that terrifies me. What if this Attachment Parenting stuff (responding to his needs fairly quickly, nursing a lot, holding a lot, letting him sleep with us, etc) is all a bunch of crap? What if, instead of raising a securely-attached, trusting, confident child, I am raising a spoiled little brat?
Also, what if discipline isn't the only thing I'm bad at? After his first year, I felt pretty confident that I was doing an okay job. He was growing like a weed (95th percentile for height), meeting his developmental milestones, loved people and was happy most of the time. This is plenty for a baby. Sure, I had a few concerns, what mom doesn't? Did he have enough tummy time, would his stubborness about solid food turn into a problem? I told myself not to worry, he was fine. Now, though, as I'm nearing the end of his second year, I'm losing my confidence. This year didn't go as well. He has hardly grown at all. He still fits into his halloween costume from last year. He didn't walk until 17 months. His vocalization and his gross motor skills are below average. And apparently, he has a mean streak (remote incident). Now, most days I tell myself that he will be fine and that I am doing alright. I took enough probability to know that averages mean very little, and I know that his not eating has little to do with me. His development is, for the most part, fine. But, some days I feel like a giant It's all my fault fell out of the sky and hit me on the head. I know that with such love, a lot of worry must follow, but what if, what if, what if?
Anyways, here's a cute, anecdotal metaphor to end this grumpy post. The other day, Levi and I were playing at the playground and there was another boy Levi's age there. He was exactly Levi's age. Same birthday. Anyway, he was several inches taller that Levi, was running and climbing like a monkey, and was speaking very clearly. All I could think about was how much more advanced this child was than my son. I was standing there, worrying about his development and his intelligence, when I took a moment to step outside of my mind and observe the scene. Levi was laughing like crazy and following this kid around. They were both laughing like crazy and repeating one another. They didn't care who spoke better or ran faster, they were just glad to play together. Moral: I need to just let my kid be a kid.


Blogger kate said...

Hoo boy. I hear ya. Especially on the timeouts. This seems to be some magical, new-agey solution, yet how are we supposed to make them happen? I have heard very few people address this point. When we were doing timeouts, we would toss Lizzy in her room and have to hold the doorknob outside to keep her from getting back out. (why she didn't just say, 'okay, fine, I'll play in here, nyaaah' is beyond me. That was my favorite tactic, but I guess I was a little older.)
EVERY 1 1/2 to ??-year-old has a mean streak. If it's unusual that he threw a remote at you, well, you're doing fabulously.
As for the development: Of course, some kids are delayed and whatnot. But I've found that I'd fret about Lizzy not doing x,y,z, as soon as other kids I saw, and then SUDDENLY she'd be speaking in full sentences or whatever. Still, that's what we moms do best -- worry. :)

2:39 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I'm with you Maggie on starting to wonder if some of the attachment parenting stuff is a load of crap. I'm fine with the baby stuff but I'm reading people that still use gentle discipline' with their teen agers and I just don't really agree with what they're even trying to achieve with their kids. It seems so utopian sometimes.

1:50 AM  

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