2010 Parenting Resolutions…how’d I do?

1-To remember to take joy in my daughter every day.  Sometimes I get so caught up in her medical stuff or how exasperating she can be with her toddler tantrums or waste energy on being stressed because I cleaned and now the living room is ruined again that I forget to stop and look at how much wonder she has, her sheer joy in the world, and how much she loves me.

Let’s consider this a work in progress.  I sadly still have plenty of days where exasperation or frustration is the emotion I feel most.  I suppose, to some extent, that’s life with a toddler, but I could do better.

2-To tell my daughter every day that I love her.  Not that I think I’ve ever gone a day without telling her I love her, but it’s something I want to continue.

Achieved.  But I’d continue it.

3-To continue to expose her to a wide variety of “differences”–different foods, different cultures, different religions, and different ways of looking at the world.

Well, we moved her to Singapore and we have a helper from the Phillipines who lives with us, so I guess mission accomplished?

4-To grit my teeth and let her fall, get bruises and get scrapes.  I identify as a free-range parent, and while right now that certainly doesn’t mean letting her be unsupervised, it DOES mean letting her fall, letting her eat some dirt, letting her experience an “ouch” in the name of learning.

I feel like there are plenty of days where I’m hanging out with her and I’m like “wow, where did that scrape come from.”  I’d also have to literally wrap her in bubble wrap not to let her fall or get scraped considering she’s ACTIVE GIRL!!!

5-To make an effort every day to teach my daughter, but not to get so wrapped up in it that she loses her love of learning.

I suppose that I “teach” my daughter every day in that I’m teaching her please and thank you, numbers, letters, etc.  But we lost the habit of reading every day, and we also lost the habit of flashcards when we moved here.  I’d like to re-start and re-incorporate more in the way of conscious academics–being more active about using teachable moments like “New Year’s” to show her the calendar and such.

Reading every day is also something I feel terrible about dropping.  She became so active that she didn’t sit still for entire books.  But I’ve recently re-introduced the bedtime story, so it’s really just a matter of keeping it up now.

6-To see her as Elanor and not her medical drama/developmental milestones/etc

I think I’ve gotten much better about this, especially as she’s had fewer and fewer issues with them.  I haven’t looked at a developmental chart in months, to be totally honest, and I think that’s a good thing.

7-To know when to listen to a doctor and when to go with my gut

I struggled more with this in the US because I had far more trust established with her doctors.  Here in Singapore, I’ve had much less doubts and fears about listening to my gut and advocating strongly for E and for myself with them.

8-To not compare her to other kids

Let’s be real…we all do it.  You see a kid your child’s age who does something FAR FAR or FAR LESS well than your child and either it unnerves you (for a second or two) or makes you feel grateful that your kid is doing X well.  I try to consciously repeat to myself that all kids have their strengths and weaknesses…it’s okay for CJ to talk far more articulately than E…E has such great motor skills!  Most of this stuff will even out by the time they’re 4…but even then, each kid will have his or her own thing he/she is awesome at.

9-To not worry so much about what other people think of me as a parent

I’m still FAR too thin skinned on this.  Since we began using the iPod during meals outside the home to keep E happy, I’ve had easily 20 people approach me positively about it.  How calm it keeps her during a longer dinner with friends.  How happy she is.  Where I got the Sesame Street.  One family (only half joking) offered to buy it from me on the spot at a semi-upscale restaurant in Arlington, Mass when we were home visiting.  But the memory that sticks with me is the drunk woman in New York who said “I hope you spend half as much time paying attention to your child as you do to your phone” (E had been watching Sesame Street after a long day of family, playgrounds, toy stores and walking…R and I were exhausted and had each retreated to our phones to read during dinner while E was happily enraptured by the number/letter of the day).  I’m proud that I stood up for myself “Wow, when does your parenting book come out?  I really want to read the drunken strangers guide to parenting other people’s kids,” but I’m also aware that it was pointless to engage with a drunk and stupid person.

Or the woman who literally did a drive-by critique of my parenting when I was scolding E for throwing herself to the ground in a cross-walk.  Even though I still know that I was doing nothing wrong (I wasn’t screaming, physically harming my child or using language stronger than “naughty”) having been accosted is still deeply shameful, months later.

Those two incidents are burned into my mind in technicolor.

Playing them back, I wish I could have just laughed and walked away.  Let it roll off my back without a second thought.

That I could have anticipated the plane trip without sitting around playing out scenarios where I was critiqued or yelled at because E cried too much or irritated someone on a plane.

I hope that as time passes, and my faith in myself as a mom (see below) grows, I will continue to develop a thicker skin.

10-To have more faith in myself as a mom

In all honesty, the resolution should probably be to have more faith in myself, period.  But as a mom is a relatively good starting point.

As I watch E develop into a (generally) awesome little girl, I have more faith that I’m doing okay at this whole “mom” thing, although even two years in, it’s still strange to think of myself as someone’s “mom.”  Moms are grown up, and all too often I still feel like a kid just playing at being grown up.

I’m ready for a second child, though.  Fully ready (if not physically, yet).  So I suppose that speaks to my faith in myself to keep a kid alive and not have them turn into a serial killer.

Overall

I think I can say that I feel as though I’ve done a pretty decent job this year.  I would change some things if I could…losing my shit on the drive-by critiquer, how much of a struggle parenting can be without my mood stabilizing meds, and never stopping with the daily story time are up there.  But in general, I think I’ve done…good.  A solid B for the year.

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