Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Parenting Paradigm

After conversation with my husband about where to put posts on parenting (which question he said I answered myself), it has been decided that parenting rambling will go here rather than there.

Mostly, I'd like to have a place where I feel comfortable talking about our and my parenting choices, and being excited about learning new things about the developing little person we have in our family.

Today is the first time I have felt like a competent mommy. The past several days have been hectic (something outside the home in the morning, afternoon, and evening, almost every day since Friday), and today I didn't have to leave home at all. (I love staying at home, in my box of a house. I do have to make an effort to take walks outside, and be in sunshine, etc. For the record, Teddy and I took two little front-yard-only walks today.)

I do not know how related it is, but today was also the first day I tried to cut down on the pacifier use. I was confident in my decisions to put him down for his naps. I set the timer for five minutes and let him wail (taking notes on changes in tone to help me not go in to him). After the timer went off, I tried caressing his forehead to soothe him, but he kept fussing, so in went the paci, after which he was asleep if not right away then by the time the timer marked another five minutes. (I have a really bad sense of time.) Throughout the day, he didn't really cry at the changing table, and seemed to cry less at on my lap as I prepared to feed him.

I have been reading and listening to plenty of advice over the past three months. Reading includes several Montessori things (in books and online) and lots of parenting blogs. Advice has included my family (mother: he's too cold; sister: he's too hot; conclusion: he's just fine), parishioners of our home parish as well as other parishes (including one Greek lady who assured me that my next* will be a girl), and random people (what a sweet little girl!). And then there are all the people who give me advice, and, either just before or just afterwards, tell me I should go with my gut. Well, my gut is now educated, advised, driven by hormones, and has made compromises with my husband on how to deal with child-based challenges. So it's a very confused gut indeed, and I don't always know even what I want to do.

*We have postponed the actual discussion of having another child until all three of us have made it to September 2009.

We went to confession on Monday, and I raised the difficulty I had been having with receiving advice. I do know people mean well, but it's awfully hard to hear the same criticisms over and over without feeling rather resentful. For instance, having my baby in a sling: "He's always in there." "Isn't that bad for his spine?" "Isn't that bad for your back?" "He'll be growing out of that soon." And the first coffee hour, people kept putting cash right next to his face and hands. I'm a new mommy and I reserve the right to be germophobic. I put him in the sling because he likes it, I like it, and I remembered the Greek custom of "spitting"* to "keep away the evil eye"** and figured that if I kept him close to me, people would keep their distance a bit more than if he were in the stroller. (Ha! to the last part. Some do, but they don't cancel out the ones who don't.)

*One, in the service of baptism, you spit on the devil, not on the baby, and I really don't care for the association. Two, just because you mean to fake spit doesn't mean you are not actually spitting, and that's just gross. (I was "spat" on during pregnancy, and that's okay, but not on my baby with the immune system still being worked on, thankyouverymuch.)

**Once he's baptized, as pointed out by the abbess of the Annunciation Monastery, the evil eye can't hurt him. Also, I think the idea of the evil eye isn't worth bothering about.

So anyway, in confession Fr. Petros helped me focus on the fact that a priest's child is a child of the community, and everyone wants to have a share in loving him. (Selfish grumble: mine! mine!) So I will do my best to keep smiling and "thanking them for their contribution" as Fr. Petros put it. Also, I have the satisfaction of taking him home with me and doing mostly as I please with the boy.

For whatever reason, praise and questions are almost as annoying as criticism. Although I do like the praise much better, I am a little tired of being asked whether I am breastfeeding (yes) and told that I made the right choice (or: "Good for you!"). Perhaps it is the quantity, or the fact that breastfeeding seems more like a non-choice to me: I decided on it, my husband supports me, and by now it is working.

This post is already long, but I will try to keep posting as my brain and baby allow. I hope to answer the thought my husband had when he (a "veteran dad" of two months) brought our son to the Boot Camp for New Dads, "When did we turn into the hippie parents?"

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Blogger Pres. Kathy said...

Boy do I know how you feel. I had to deal with all the same things you have had too. I would hear the same comments over and over again, and STILL do. Patience is key here. Unfortunately, it does not get any better. (Niko is 18 months) Everyone wants to know what is up with the priest's child. That will never end. What has helped me is that I know that the comments are coming, I am expecting them, so I don;t mind them because I have prepared myself. If you ever want to talk about it, just drop me an email. God bless your family.

Wed Dec 17, 08:28:00 PM CST  
Blogger DebD said...

hugs, it must be very hard raising a wee one in a fish bowl.

Thu Dec 18, 10:15:00 AM CST  
Blogger magda said...

Pres. Kathy, thank you for the reminder for patience.

Deb, my first thought was, "What? He's almost 14 pounds. That's way too big for a fishbowl!"

Thu Dec 18, 11:23:00 AM CST  
Blogger Mimi said...

I loved what your priest said, that's a very good point.

You are doing awesome, but it is hard to figure out, and usually what you find works will not work the next time, you know?


Thu Dec 18, 11:38:00 AM CST  
Blogger Threeundertwo said...

You are doing everything right. Slings are great for babies up through something like 25 lbs. I don't know how we would have survived without a sling with our first, it was so calming for her.

I agree, money needs to be away from the face and the hands. I really didn't like it when people would put it in the crib when they came to visit.

I let my twins have pacifiers for sleep time only, and on their 2nd birthday we had a big ceremony where all the relatives gathered around while we threw them away. I think they don't develop the ability to soothe themselves until they're a bit older, so don't worry about the paci too much. A calm baby is a good thing.

I have a bit of a problem with the whole "evil eye" concept. As a convert, I just can't find where it "fits" in my thinking, and it's just a little too untrusting of angels for me. My mother-in-law always put the pins on the babies' clothes to ward off the evil eye, but I worried about jewelry dangers and always took them off (bad daughter in law I am).

Keep up the good work, that baby is so lucky to have you for a mom!

Sat Dec 27, 11:12:00 PM CST  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I was in your shoes about 3 1/2 years ago - completely unsure of myself and receiving all kinds of conflicting advice, unsolicited and asked for, equally.

Prayers for you and the family.

Sun Dec 28, 05:29:00 PM CST  

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