Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Evergreen Topics

GAH this weekend was perfect. I was sadder to return to real workaday life this morning than I have been in a long time. Not much happened, but it feels like so much has transpired since last week.

There was lots of outdoor time, cocktails al fresco and languishing with loved ones. There was baseball, including a real live game from SWEET seats that we scored for free. There was a trip to the "Monkey Bookstore" which my kid enjoyed ten times more than I had expected he would, which of course amped my enjoyment.

All this time later and it's finally dawned on me that parental satisfaction is 90% managing one's expectations. It seems so obvious, but when you're doing this parenting thing for the first time, you (I) can be a downright clueless dillhole. My kid is going to be who he is and act how he acts, and my happiness at this stage--when he's still so little and figuring out day by day what it means to be a person--truly hinges on how I choose to react. I used to spend a lot of time being frustrated and getting caught up in the impossible concept of SHOULD. How/what HR should be doing at what stage, how other babies behaved or progressed, what I might be doing wrong that made a given situation turn out how it did. Mike has been the voice of sanity all along, but I really needed to discover for myself once and for all that there's no way to "fix" a baby that doesn't want to be put down, or ride in a car, or be content to sit in a high chair at a restaurant or any other ridiculous things that mean so much in the moment but now it's like, what? That was so long ago, for such a short time. It's not that I've ever been disappointed in my child, I mean, come on. But I have been disappointed in myself for not having a child that does X or Y. Do you see what I mean there? And that's just dumb.

Time itself helps, I mean, HR's much better in the car now, as long as he's not carsick. He just had to grow into that. Ditto the physical independence, which in a lot of ways I now believe is overrated. There's nothing wrong with a monkey baby who wants to be attached to you, and the fact that it bothered me that I didn't have the option to set him down way back when was definitely a perception (and probably exhaustion) issue. And  in terms of portability, like dragging him around from place to place and keeping him amused--which was something I figured we'd master from the get-go but found out quickly was just not ideal for our kid--we've come a long way. Apps and youtube clips on the smartphone helps (and presents a whole new quandary about how to limit this now that it's been introduced), plus lots of toys and books and snacks, but really I've learned how to adapt as much, if not more, than he has. And that has made all the difference.

Sure, sometimes I still have to leave a place earlier than I want to because he's just had it, or I might have to pass up on something altogether because it doesn't work for my son. But now I think of it like, really, who cares? There will be lots of things I'll want to do that I'll get to do. Conversely, I'm sure I've got a million unforseen frustrations on the Mama horizon. But what helps is to keep mindful that, especially now that being in control isn't really the issue here--it's not yet a matter of discipline or behavior that can be modified, just emerging personality--things are only as disappointing as I let them be. It seems that even though I'm an old son of a bitch, in some ways, the small gentleman and I are growing up together.

I think I write about this aspect of parenting at least once a week, but I do marvel every day at perception and its ability to make or break you. If I could give one piece of advice to an expectant parent, it's to just chill and let your baby be your baby, not to try and stuff the adorably unformed little cuss into a mold you made in advance. It's obviously not how it works, and the sooner you realize that, the happier and less crazy-making life will be.

Anyway, we had a stupendous weekend. How was yours?

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