Monday, November 23, 2009

Family Traditions

Simone is asleep on my back right now, in the Ergo. Looking in the mirror, at this sleeping person on me, reminds me of how truly teeny tiny she is. With her bigger-than-life personality and her wise and vibrant spunk, I can forget that she's ridiculously tiny still. Her foot still fits in the palm of my hand. So much growing and living and learning to do - how exciting to watch that happen.

This morning, Karen was talking about how she needlepointed a Christmas stocking while she was pregnant with her daughter. And then showed the one her own daughter made, when SHE was pregnant with HER daughter. I absolutely loved that. Thinking about how these little things we do will creep into my children's future lives. Like Jack asking me to take his kids to NYC. Or will they have a family slumber party under the Christmas tree, the first night after decorating it? What will they keep from our history together?

And then looking at this little sleeping creature...this majestically beautiful, sweet little girl...it's hard to imagine that she'll someday be a mom. And I remind myself that what I'm doing now and how I'm parenting is creating who she'll be as a mother. The things she does similarly AND the things where she takes the opposite path. I think they both shape her equally.

She'll likely edit a whole lot of things, just like we all do. And I'm curious to watch how that works. When I think about how I try to instill gentle parenting and nighttime responsiveness, I'm curious to see if that translates into adulthood...or will she go another path, and decide that spanking and crying-it-out measures work better for her?

When my mom found out I wasn't going to let my kids cry-it-out or spank, I know she was really concerned. She was afraid that it would create ramifications I didn't want, like spoiled children who never slept. And then when she saw Jack maturing and forming his sense of self, I know she was really surprised by what she was seeing. His respect, kindness, and gentle spirit. By the time I had Andrew, she didn't say a word about it anymore. I could tell her about rough night's sleep with the little ones, knowing she'd pay attention to our big-picture scheme of parenting, and that I saw the rough nights as an investment. No judgment, just support.

It must be a difficult decision to make, becoming so supportive of things that go against your grain. What we believe for our children comes from such a primal place, that we almost HAVE to believe it's the only way. Because to think that there might be another way that's better implies we've given our children second-rate, right? And what mother wants to think that?

I think that's the basis of Mommy Wars, that insecurity. If mothering becomes a gray area, it sounds really scary. If we say that there are 1000 different ways to do it right, then how can we *know* that we're doing it the Perfect Way?

My dad was saying he thought it just came down to loving them and being a good model. I love that simplicity, and it's where I'm falling in my motherhood philosophy.

I used to like parenting books, but then found that anything prescriptive (even the "how to be gentle parents" books) didn't click with me. It's more complex than that, in many ways (when to wean, what discipline looks like), but also much more simple. Fill them with love. Fill them with kindness. And be the person... in the core of my being...that I want to be. Figure out my own rough edges and work on sanding them down, and then just knowing that the only one I can change is myself. And I hope my children will find their groove in that environment.

We'll see how it goes. :) But I can say with a whole heart that even on my draining parenting days, when I have no patience and no energy, I absolutely adore (adore!) where my children are heading. Who they are as persons. How they treat each other (most times). ;) It amazes me to no end, watching these loving hearts exploding out of them. So I have no regrets about my decisions along the way, even when I switched paths and found a new course. It's always been based out of love and their best interest, which in the end, means more to me than any prescriptive path.

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