Tuesday, April 3, 2012
This is not about Baby Hiccups.
So, the clever reader may have already deduced what this post is actually about and anyone who has had a uterus tenant and dared to go on a mommy board knows exactly why I've made a substitution. I don't need that bile flooding my defenseless little blog.
More important than my general cowardice is that these feelings are not unique to baby hiccuping, so there is no reason to summon the hellfire and histrionics. Besides, your hiccuping consultants have told you more than I ever could. The problem is that they aren't in control of this endeavor and neither are you.
Parenting is a lifetime sentence of absolute loss of control. Some people think that you lose control when you enter into a relationship. They are wrong. (In fact, that is a whole different blog topic. If your partner becomes incensed that you have taken too long to bring his dinner and throws his bowl at you while simultaneously screaming and soiling himself, please send me an email because we need to talk in a safe place, free from my sarcastic internet persona.)
Our pre-parenting skills and all the well-intended advice work against us. We are led to believe that if we only did _______ for a little bit longer or tried ______, our baby will hiccup or whatever. Everything else has always worked that way. Clearly if it isn't working, we, as parents, are doing something wrong. The plan is foolproof. There is nothing wrong with the plan.
Children do not care for your plans. Your plans are merely an inconvenience that delays watching Bubble Guppies. The only thing you did wrong was you made plans that required performance from your child. This is easy to fix. Hiccuping is natural. So is a thunderstorm. I don't know about you, but I can't force either to occur by sheer willpower or extended study. It doesn't mean that it will never rain or that you shouldn't carry an umbrella. Just don't let it ruin your day.
Let's fast-forward. What if your child doesn't play sports? What if your child doesn't go to college? Should you force her? Have you ever seen a child forced to play softball? I think my mom may have some pictures. It's not pretty. There are many wonderful opportunities that may be beneficial to your child. Some will work out and some will not. Rather than focus on what is deviating from "the plan," focus on spending time with your child.
I'm a firm believer in staying out of a child's way, fostering a loving, structured environment and a creating self-worth miles away from anything your child does. If you really want your child to hiccup, keep trying, but if the quest to hiccup consumes your life, then stop. I'm not kidding. Your time with your child is too precious to spend in constant "achievement" mode. Relax and enjoy the moment. This is good practice for when your child comes home with green hair or plans to attend business school. (Hopefully I've covered the complete spectrum of parenting nightmares.)
You may be thinking that it should be easy to make babies do things because they have squishy, undeveloped minds. You are delusional, probably because you aren't sleeping (nor will you for the next 18 years). Don't play chicken with babies; they have nothing to lose and all the power. All they want is a hedonistic life of eating, sleeping and warm shelter. Engage them in a battle of wills and you, by contrast, will live in Dante's Eighth Circle of Hell, enduring incessant screaming, social isolation and eventual sleep-deprivation-induced psychosis. In the end, you have to give them what they want, or the state will put you in jail. Check and mate.
I'm not saying that eventually you won't need to set limits, but nature has set up a wonderful way of training parents to have a soft touch. When dealing with adults, it is perfectly acceptable and effective to say things like, "Write this report by Monday." and "Stop hiding waffles in the couch cushions." With kids, these types of phrases might work, for a while, but you are going to be spending a lot of time telling your child what you think they should be doing and less time working on your novel or eating ice cream. It is much easier (and more helpful to the child in the long run, different post...) to set general limits and let the consequences do the work for you, but that means releasing some control. Luckily, babies will break you like a wild stallion.
Think of it this way. Parenting is a lot like getting an egg shell out of an egg white. The harder you push, the faster the shell moves away from you. Let the shell come to you. If it doesn't, dump a bunch of nuts in the dough and hope for the best. This is one batch of cookies in a lifetime of cookies.
Oh, and if anybody ever says anything hateful or judgmental to you about any of your parenting decisions, keep in mind that some people have not achieved the bliss of losing control, so they try to control everyone around them. Feel bad for them, not yourself. Also, some people are jerks.
Finally, just in case you ever feel like the new mom in town, looking in vain for a seat in the Good Mommies cafeteria: You are not alone. You are not a failure. You are a wonderful, strong mother. Be proud of what you have accomplished so far and confident of what you will achieve in the future.
Again with the graphic?
Yep. I had so much fun last week with yeah write that I'm hooked. Take a look at the great blogs and vote for your favorites on Friday.