Recently, it occurred to me that while parenting is made up of millions of choices, most of those choices are already made for you. For instance, when your baby needs to be fed, you automatically feed your baby. It's sort of a choice in, perhaps, how you feed your baby, but your actions are already dictated by your baby's needs. Even beyond the most basic needs my child has, many my parenting choices are dictated by the moments when I need to parent my kid how they need, and not how I want.
I think it takes a while to realize you might need to parent your child the way that suits them, rather than the way that suits you. At first, you're dealing with all those obvious-answer-choices, like feeding and diapering, bathing and soothing. Then you hit the wall and realize that what you're doing simply isn't working for your kid, or you realize that what worked for your friend's kid simply won't work for your kid. In my experience, the more difficult solution, the one that takes more effort from you that you really aren't excited to give right at that moment, becomes the solution that your kid needs.
When my daughter was around 4 weeks old, she inexplicably stopped sleeping. She wouldn't nap in the stroller or the carseat, she would only (sometimes) nap in my arms or in her cot. It made everything less convenient for me for about four months. I couldn't leave the house while she was napping, and her awake-time window meant I had to be back in the house faster than any errand would take. However, as much of a pain as it was for me, personally, she needed me to give her what worked for her and not my schedule. Since then, she's been teaching me that it's not all about me, in more ways than one.
When I Need To Let My Daughter Fail
Letting my daughter fail to do something was one of those early parenting lessons that was surprisingly hard for me to accept. One day, though, it hit me that she would learn so much faster from falling or failing (within reason) than she would if I constantly did everything for her.
When My Daughter Throws A Tantrum
Tantrums are so hard for me, which I really didn't expect before I became a mom. Somehow, the tantrums that are seemingly caused by nothing are the easiest to endure, and the ones where I can pinpoint the exact cause that could avoid the tantrum altogether are much, much harder.
For instance, my daughter had a full meltdown this morning when I wouldn't give her more than the two candies she found in my purse. Giving her all the candies would have made for a much more peaceful morning, but sure as heck wouldn't have set a very good precedent for the next time she finds candies lying around.
When My Daughter Needs Me To Be Patient
Sometimes, my daughter needs me to be engaged when I am exhausted or otherwise annoyed. It's a pain, to be sure, but usually she requires me to be more involved than me just sitting on the couch, watching her build a block tower while she asks for help over and over again. She needs me next to her, encouraging her as she stacks wobbly blocks on top of one another. She won't need me forever, which I remind myself often, and she doesn't need me every single moment of every single day, either. However, she definitely needs me more now than I'd like for those little block towers.
When My Daughter Is In Real Danger
I remember my mother-in-law telling me, before I had kids, that sometimes she just had to teach her kids to obey her without reasoning with them. She gave the example of the parking lot or the street, or immediate danger. It was such an important pre-kids lesson for me, that despite thinking it's a nice idea to explain and reason with your kids in order to let them know why we're doing what we're doing, you also need them to know that they just need to obey you.
I'd definitely rather explain everything, but I can see now that my daughter, for her safety, sometimes just needs to know that I'm in charge and what I say goes.
When My Daughter Uses A Bottle & Pacifier
It would have been so much easier to let my daughter have a bottle until she was 2 years old, and a pacifier indefinitely. I'm pretty sure she would have kept both, too.
However, when the pediatrician recommended giving up bottles, I figured there was a reason (or five) as to why he was making that recommendation. It would have been so much easier to let her have what had come to be a comfort for her, but for her sake I had to do what was definitely the harder option.
When My Daughter Benefits From Attachment Parenting
Honestly, before I had kids I didn't think very much about the parenting styles. If I had to choose, though, attachment parenting probably wouldn't have been my first option.
However, with my adopted daughter I knew what she needed from me was closer to the attachment parenting side of things than I ever would have landed naturally. Babywearing as we walk around our Houston neighborhood in the 95 degree humid heat? You got it, kid.
When My Daughter Benefits From A Schedule
I mentioned my daughter's napping schedule when she was young, but what I think was really going on is she needed to sleep for most of the first six months of her life. She had a stressful time in utero, and hard as it was not to panic that something was terribly wrong or want her to stay up longer for a cuddle, I knew that what she needed was lots and lots of rest at the beginning.
When It's Time To Eat A Meal
Does anyone else feel like every single meal is a battle between what would be easiest and what your kid actually would eat? My child would eat blueberries and yogurt for every meal (also M&Ms, but we don't go down that road anymore), but allegedly they need other food groups as well, especially when they're itty bitty like my daughter.
So every meal is a battle between what my daughter needs from me and what I'd really rather do, which is set her up with a big tub of blueberries and let her go to town.