I guess it was inevitable that my baby would not stay a baby forever.
In many ways it is a pleasure to see him mature and develop. I can count on him to give me hugs and kisses just for the heck of it. He increasingly understands what his father and I say to him and he responds (selectively) in kind. He recently discovered that he can dance. Since then he hasn’t heard a dance beat that he can resist. Then today, he fearlessly climbed down four steps on his own only to stop because my whoops of joy alerted him to the fact that he was entering unprecedented territory.
Every day brings something new.
But along with the cuteness and the awe comes the awareness that my sweet baby is now a Capital-T-Toddler.
How do I know this? I can’t take this child out to restaurants anymore.
Check this: Once upon a time, C and I could take Baby E to a restaurant and get comments on “What a good baby” we had. The commenters came to this conclusion because Baby E was mostly quiet. He either sat in our laps or in a high chair. In the really early days he even went to sleep for a good part of our meal time. We could generally count on him being mostly chilled out unless he was hungry and of course that could be solved with nursing.
Capital-T-Toddlers do not do these things.
What I have learned, is that my Capital-T-Toddler will have a meltdown if we take him to a restaurant after 7:00 pm. He will not sit in a high chair. He will not sit still on our laps. He will insist on running away from our table. He will not be satisfied by nursing. He will do the “stiff-body laying on the floor while screaming thing.”
If we take him to a restaurant earlier in the day, things go much better. He is a much happier child. However, happy Toddlers still want to play with everything on the table. Happy Toddlers throw/drop food on the floor. Happy Toddlers leave big messes that lead certain parents (me!) to be even better tippers out of guilt.
My child is developing what I call, “The cuteness threshold” which is the point where the level of cuteness becomes inversely related to the level of Capital-T-Toddlerism.
In other words, it’s when the “awwww” turns into “noooooooo!”
This guest post is a part of the ongoing series, “What Motherhood Means to Me”, where I seek to highlight various perspectives on motherhood.
On My Definition of Motherhood
By: Nadirah Angail
Initially, when I think of motherhood, I think of having children. Simple enough, but no, that’s not what it means to me. There are tons of people that have children and are NOT mothers. Dig deeper, Nad.
Okay, so then I think about the fact that the word “motherhood” has the root word “mother,” which means we’re talking specifically about women here. That means there must be some difference between motherhood and fatherhood, but what is it? What is it that a mother does and a father doesn’t, and vice versa? No, I’m not talking about giving birth and breastfeeding (though I do think that has something to do with it). I mean beyond that, what makes a mother? Okay, Nad, you’re thinking and raising questions, but still no answers. You gotta do better than this. To the dictionary.
I clicked the trusty dictionary app and entered the words “mother” and “father.” The main definitions were pretty similar: “A woman/man in relation to a child she birthed/his natural child.” The second definitions were pretty close too, except for some small, but important, distinctions.
“Mother- a person who provides the care and affection normally associated with a female parent.”
“Father- a man who gives care or protection to someone or something.”
Both definitions mention giving or providing care, but one mentions affection while the other mentions protection. So, is that where my husband and I differ? He handles the practical aspects of parenting while I handle the relational ones? Well, yes and no. He is very protective and I am very affectionate, but I’m also protective and he is also affectionate. Thanks a lot, dictionary. You still didn’t give me an answer. Okay fine, looks like I’m on my own with this one.
What I know for sure, without a doubt, is that I am the primary woman in my daughter’s life. Later, she’ll be influenced by female friends, teachers and even celebs (hate to think about that part) but for now, it’s pretty much me (and her grandmother). So, as the main female in this little female’s life, I have an obligation to guide her toward certain things and away from others.
Toward self-love and away from self-loathing.
Toward critical thinking and away from blind following.
Toward embracing and acceptance and away from judgment and disregard.
Toward accepting her beauty and away from trying to fit into someone else’s.
Toward valuing inner and away from fixating on outer.
Of course her father will help with these things as well, but not in the way that I will. I will model for her how to be a woman. He will model for her how to treat one. He cannot step into my shoes and do my part, and I cannot step into his. When we have a son (God willing), he will show him how to be a man and I will show him how to treat one. So, that’s what it means to me to be a mother. It’s not so much about the cooking, cleaning, feeding and playing. It’s more about the guiding and providing an example of a confident, well-adjusted woman. Unfortunately, she will be assaulted by a barrage of messages about women and womanhood that only involve sex and superficiality. It is my job to steer her away from that. With me pulling from the front and her dad pushing from the back, hopefully we have a pretty good chance of keeping her on the right track.
Nadirah Angail is a Kansas City-based author and blogger. She has published two books and written many articles and blogs that speak to her interpretation of the female experience. Find more information about her at www.nadirahangail.com
Raise your hand if you were very sure what kind of parent you were going to be before you had kids?
Raise your hand if you were very sure what kind of parent you were going to be at each stage of your kid’s life beforehand?
I’m raising both hands on both accounts.
One thing I’m learning in this parenting gig is that I’m always learning. I have a core set of values that form the base of my parenting but I’m always fine-tuning them as I go along.
This week’s Soapbox Sunday features some writings that I found insightful about parenting.
BlackGirlinMaine talks about what she’s learned having raised an almost 19 year old and now raising a 5 year old.
Gina, The Feminist Breeder has a message for newer moms who judge other moms who have difficult toddlers — “Just wait!”
Lauren, at Hobo Mama, talks about why she’s not as fabulous a parent as her blog might make her seem and why that’s ok.
Dionna, at CodeName:Mama shares tips for encouraging children to apologize with sincerity instead of forcing them to say sorry.
Darcel at The Mahogany Way talks about the importance of play in her children’s lives.
What kind of parenting insights have you discovered?