“Watch me as I graduate
“Watch me as I graduate
I will admit it. Before I had a child I judged.
I judged when kids screamed in a restaurant or on a plane. I judged when I saw an older child with a pacifier. I judged parents when I saw children out late at night way past bedtime. I would ask myself… What are those parents thinking? Why don’t they have control over their children? I had no problem offering my free advice about something that (I know now) I knew nothing about. How hard can it be to make him give up his pacifier? Or get them to bed at a reasonable time? How difficult can it possibly be to get her out of diapers? Or make them eat their vegetables? I mean, what kind of parent can’t do that?
As children we are taught not to judge people with mental impairments or physical disabilities. We are expected to be kind to others. After all, one never knows what happens behind closed doors.
So why is it that once I had a child everyone provided an opinion, whether solicited or not? I felt incredibly overwhelmed once we brought “A” home from the hospital. I don’t think that we were even home before the advice started.
“A” was adopted from the states. No, I did not breastfeed (judged). We returned home with our new baby girl by plane (judged). We did not have a baby shower for her before she was born (judged). We did not have the crib bought, her nursery ready, or any of the necessities that you need for a baby when they come home from the hospital (judged, judged, judged).
People are so willing to judge without knowing the full story.
Ours story goes like this. We tried to adopt a child for years. We had at least four adoptions fall apart after the baby was born. I witnessed two c-sections for children who ended up in someone else’s arms. My husband and I even named one of the babies – Charles Joseph. And yes, he still has that name. I still talk to his mother.
So when we got a call and rush to another state to adopt our baby we were ill prepared. We wanted to be ill prepared for our daughter’s birth. Our hearts could not take preparing one more time. We knew that no one can ever know what might happen.
The judging continued as “A” grew. Everyone thinks that they did or do things the right way. It may mask itself as concern, empathy, or some other form of “motherly” advice. It’s impossible to miss the looks people give you when they are judging your parenting decisions. “A” was 3 and still not potty trained (judged). She was 2 ½ and still drinking a bottle at night (judged). At 4 she still had her pacifier (judged).
I started to feel the pressure and potty trained her by forcing her to go sit on the potty every 20 min. Was this right? Was SHE ready … I will never be able to answer this question. Would waiting another few months have been the worst thing in the world? Another unanswerable question. What I do know is that by the time she was ready for four year old kindergarten she was potty trained. The school did not care when she was potty trained, just that she was potty trained.
As for the bottle, I can tell you that giving her a bottle at 2 ½ was more me then her. I loved the magical bottle. I loved the way that it made her restful and peaceful and ready for bed. I loved holding her until she fell asleep. It was the same with the pacifier. It calmed her, put her at ease and made her happy. Once we got rid of these things I found it much more difficult to get her to bed and to sleep. Did we do something wrong? Could we have done things better or sooner?
“A” just had her first teacher conference for K-4. The teacher told me that she is well-adjusted, smart, social, independent and happy. These are the qualities I want my daughter to have. Is the teacher now judging my child? I guess for now, I do not think of it as much judging, as affirmation that we are doing an ok job at parenting. As I look at all of the decisions we’ve made so far, I am satisfied, even happy. Happy that I did not push her to get rid of a lot of things that she loved. Happy that I kept doing many of the things that I loved. All of these little decisions have helped to make her who she is. And for this I am a very grateful.
There was a day this past year that I had been waiting to pass since almost the day that my son H was born. For Four solid years, I waited for the day of the big test, the test that would give us some finality. A decision about whether H would go to Kindergarten.
I think it’s safe to say that Most parents start feeling a bit of angst when their child reaches the age of four. Four is this big age – toddler-hood is over, preschool has begun and the day that school begins is imminent. School. It’s that big word that invokes in most people images of the school bus, little kids in backpacks, and some old fashioned RRR, mixed with creativity, and well – being Big. It’s that last word – the Big word – that provides the parenthood angst.
Is she really Big enough? Can he handle school? Will he get lost in the crowd? Will she listen to the teacher? Will he make friends? Really the question is – is my Kid really that Big? Am I the parent of a little kid or a Big kid? And really, How did This happen?
It’s safe to say that I remember most every day of H’s childhood. I remember the crying, the kicking phase, the cuddling phase, the digger phase. I remember the waking up in the middle of the night (phase, thankfully). I remember the needing milk 24 hours a day (long) phase, the new to big-brotherhood phase, the spitting his food out after chewing it phase, the not wanting to wear shoes phase (still in that one). And now we’ve reached the learning phase of H’s life. I feel most everyone one of the days of every one of these phases, probably because I’ve had to go through them, every single one of them, with him. Because first it was the being a mom of a kid who wanted milk 24 hours a day phase, and then the being the a mom of the new big-brotherhood phase, and being the mom of the kid who refuses to pick up his toys phase.
So for what I had been anxiously waiting for Four solid years? I knew at the age of four, we would finally have the option to test our little guy to see if he could go to school with all of his peers. Born just seven days past the school deadline, H had always been a part of the crowd just months older than him, kids who were 5 by September 1. I know that H was ready, and that I was ready. I didn’t feel the angst of the parent wondering how we got there. I KNOW how we got there. And we were all ready to move on, more forward, move into the world of Big.
H passed his big Test (that big scary day for which I had waited and waited and waited) with flying colors, and the sweet, friendly teacher who tested him laughed as we sat down on the ittybitty chairs to go over his “results” – “Wow” she said “Your little guy is quite the sponge.” Sponge he was, and sponge he is.
Sure, I haven’t 100% successfully moved into this next phase of motherhood. Yep, while other moms and dads cried on the first day of school, anxious about how it all crept up on them, I rejoiced, smile, laughed with my little guy who jumped onto the bus like he had done it a thousand times (with one last quick security hug, of course). Still, every once in awhile, I question whether he will be able to negotiate the often painful world of friendships (“mom, no one played with me on the playground today. Everyone said no”). I wonder if he’ll ever outgrow his inability to just jump up an and answer the question without raising his hand, or whether he’ll figure out how to properly spell all of the words on his “word wall.”
But every new phase brings new worries, new challenges, new fun. I feel confident that we’ll figure it out. Odd to say, but in the big checklist of life, excited to say – Toddler-hood? Check!