Monday, December 31, 2012

Discipline, Stage 1

  Discipline.  When I found out I was going to be a mom, I was sure that I would be a hard ass when it came to discipline. I remember watching stranger's hell-raising children in restaurants screaming, throwing food and running around the place like wild animals and I'd just wait for one of their parents to make eye contact with me so I could give them that look like "Please handle your rug rat before I do!".  Not that I would ever have the courage to actually say anything more than "Hey kid, go be a brat around someone else", but the point is, I hated seeing uncontrollable children, and I still do.  The only difference between then and now it that sometimes.....I have one of my own. UGH!!!

  Don't get me wrong, she is not as bad as the picture I portrayed.  In fact, because she is only 1 and super adorable, she can get away with a lot more than she should.  The struggle is knowing where to draw the line.  When she was a little baby I encountered my first experience with "new parent-discrimination".   We were at one of those over-rated, overpriced, under-appetizing chain restaurants with my parents filling our gluttonous bellies with over sized portions of food when it all went down. It took all four of us; my mom, dad, fiance and I to keep the almost 5 month old entertained as we ate. Along came a senior couple in their late 60s-early 70s, who I am assuming never had kids of their own and also appeared to be less than happy with each other, or themselves for that matter. The hostess sat them next to us and as they settled into their table, they both gazed over at our chattering baby with a look of fury in their eyes, both sighing with a hint of irritants in their tone and the woman said to the man "Are you going to be OK sitting here?" he replied in the most annoyed way possible "I guess I'll be fine".   We all looked at each other, trying to hold in the uncontrollable bursts of laughter that so badly wanted to bust out of each one of us and then went on with our meal.  As we continued to eat, my very happy baby continued to hold what seemed to be a very interesting conversation with herself and not once did I try to quiet her down.  In fact, the evil in me wanted her to cew and chatter at the top of her lungs just to spite Mr. & Mrs. Curmudgeon as they gawked over the senior menu.  As we continued to eat and listen to Soli rant and rave about whatever it was she was telling us, the old couple continued to look over occasionally with one eyebrow lifted, I pretended as if I saw nothing and soon we packed up all of the ridiculous baby cargo that is necessary when packing a baby around town, and we were on our way. 

   On our way home, I was for some reason, I was a bit bothered by that couple.  Most of me didn't care and knew that it was simply a case of two angry old people who thrived on anger, but a part of me knew that was just a taste of the judgement that will come from strangers who don't agree with our decision to have children or don't like how we raise them.  So, I started wondering when is it going to happen again, what will I say or do and most importantly, what's going to happen if someone really pisses off my stubborn and quick tempered (yet lovable, teddy bear) fiance? Luckily, I have not encountered a similar situation since, but there have been some close calls.  Funny enough, we were eating at the same establishment last night (its now very clear to me that I haven't been to a respectable, enjoyable fine restaurant since this kid has been born) sitting very close to where we were the last time, this time Soli is much older, louder and mobile.  Needless, to say I was on edge, looking around the room waiting for someone to say something about our restless and antsy child. She was especially animated all day yesterday and all I was thinking was, "Why the hell did I think it would be a good idea to go out to dinner tonight?" especially since I am very well aware of the fact that she thinks its hilarious to grab a handful of food and say "Uh-oh" and THEN drop the food on the floor. So as I try to eat my food and monitor the amount of food that starts on her plate and ends up on the floor, I am reminded of the last time I ate there and I'm thinking "That was nothing compared to this!".  We finish our meal and my fiance and parents decide they want dessert. Great, 30 more minutes of playing zoo keeper hoping that no one offers us a side of judgement to go with our Dessert Trio special!  During dessert, the child chair-hopped from one lap to the other until she found her way between Grammie and Papa's booth seat, there she knocked on  he window that divided us and the lovely family sitting behind my parents, then continued to make silly faces at them every time they turned around.  Of course, we scolded her when she got loud and told her "No" more times than I can count, but keeping her quiet and mellow was simply impossible.

   I know that all of this is normal for a healthy, happy 1 year old baby, but my expectations are pretty high when it comes to raising a well behaved child and there are times when I feel like maybe I am not doing enough.  To be clear, my child is a complete handful.  I envy the parents whose children didn't start walking or talking until 12 months or older or the parents who's children are mellow and shy because my kid is none of those, in fact she is the absolute opposite of mellow and if there were a word that would explain how shy she is NOT, I probably should have named her that!  So with the piece of work we have on our hands, how do I make sure that I'm not one of those parents I hated in my pre-baby life?  For now, I suppose the best answer is to stay consistent and deal with hearing my annoying self say "No" every 10 seconds.  I refuse to be one of those people who live in sweat pants and never leave home because I am too afraid of how my child will act in public or too worried about what other people will think of my parenting skills.  Besides, just because I decided to have a baby doesn't mean that my right to frequent overpriced, over rated, chain restaurants has been revoked. Let's be real, it would be much worse if I took my over energized child to a fine dining restaurant, which by the way, is where I prefer to frequent anyway, let the sacrifice be noted people!

   So, until she has a better understanding of what discipline is and can acknowledge when she is being disciplined, I will continue to redirect her bad behavior and keep her busy and occupied with other things. Once too often I've been the fool who tried to discipline and in return recieves a big fat smile accompanied by a smooch and I wonder to myself, what was the point of getting frustrated with someone who has no idea that her silly little actions are "socially unacceptable".  I'm learning that it is important to stay focused on age appropriate behavior guidance and not dwell on the little things that may draw attention to us in public. I'm very lucky, my biggest frustration with Soli is controlling her high strung energy. Tantrums, kicking, screaming, biting, hitting etc... have all been horror stories I have only read about or watched from afar in public.  So as long as she is busy, walks away from something when she is told no and knows that she will have our love and attention all of the time, not just when she acts out I'm hoping that we will keep her behavior in line...for now, that is, I'm sure it will only get harder!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

First Post - Intro and The Mom Guilt Dilemma

It’s been one year since my daughter was born and I still feel like I need a user's manual. Not for her, for me. I went from being a single 28 year old living on my own focusing on work, art and travel, then poof, a year later I was engaged, pregnant and in escrow purchasing our 92 year old fixer-upper! The wedding is still in the planning stages due to our inexplicable rush into organized chaos! Now, here I am, a working mom with a fiancĂ©, a mortgage, two dogs and a daughter who started walking at 9 months and hasn't slowed down since (apparently she take after her parents) and my only question is how do I handle all that comes with it.

   Mom guilt is my first dilemma. Unfortunately, I have to travel for work every other month or so. I know, that's nothing compared to a ton of other working parents, but for me it is heart wrenching. I grew up with an at-home-mom for the early years of my childhood and she remembers every little first, every adorable quirk and everything in between. This is where my guilt comes in. Working full time does not allow me to see every little thing she does, and as crazy as it sounds, it kills me. You'd understand if you were to meet this little one, she is pretty rad, I think she has a future in physical comedy! Anyway, leaving for work in the morning seeing her hands reach for me and little tears run down her uber chubby cheeks is probably the worst form of torture I have endured since I was 11 years old and realized how much I hated sharing a classroom with pre-teen, mean girls. So, my daily routine is mostly focused on getting to work on time so that I can leave on time and get right back home to her. Travel, however, is a bit more complicated, in fact it includes self trickery. Rather than go crazy every time I have to leave that ever changing ball of energy, I convince myself that I am leaving on a short mommy get-away. Sure it's work, but the up side is that I will sleep through the night without interruption, I won't have to smell one dirty diaper for the entire time I am away and the topper - wine, yes a glass as soon as I clock out and if I so desire another and maybe even another right before bed! The guilt does not just disappear however. Just when I think "I've got this!" and "It's getting better!" She does something super genius, for what I think is the first time, and everyone around me is giving me that look like "Sorry Hun, she's been doing that for a week now, we thought you knew." Cool, real cool, another ride on the guilt roller coaster. Luckily, I have an amazing fiancĂ© who does an awesome job of pointing out logic and reason amidst my emotional outbursts which at times, include uncontrollable crying, illogical rants about how one income will do if we live like pioneers and sadly, irrelevant and emotionally driven accusations about who didn't do the dishes last. Yea, he is pretty much amazing for even trying to communicate with me when that is all going down!

  While I often feel like I am the only woman in the history of the world to ever have to work and raise a family, I am capable of realizing that millions of other moms do it everyday...with more than one child!  Yes, it is hard for me to imagine too, but people do choose to have more than one and most seem to make it ok. This is where I realize that there are ways to cope with what seems like the most difficult goal in the world... trying to be the best parent ever. Way #1: Understand that I will never be the best parent ever. Already, I feel a little less anxious! Way #2: Quality time is much more valuable than the quantity of time I spend with her. Seriously, I'll take sweet tired baby at 7:30 p.m. who wants to cuddle and fall asleep with me, over crazy monster baby at 11:00 a.m. who is tired, fighting nap time and on a rampage to tear apart everything she can get her hands on. By the way, shout out to Grammie (my mom) who takes care of the little monster while we work! Finally, Way #3: Be content and grateful. There are millions of Americans who wish their biggest problem was going to work every day. I'm one of the lucky ones, even though my paycheck could use a few more zeros on the end, I have a job and to be honest, it is more than just a job. It is how I give that sweet little monster everything she needs and more, it is how I will teach her, by example, to be a responsible adult, and it is how she will understand that you sometimes you have to sacrifice for the ones you love.

  With all of that and until I encounter the next dilemma among my self-inflicted "organized chaos" I hope that this post helps at least one working mommy who can relate to the mom guilt that I try to fight off every weekday. Sometimes it’s good to know that the good kind of crazy is often harmonious. ;)

Amanda Moss