PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL PANTIES AND MOTHER THAT CHILD!
Updated: Jul 4, 2018
This baby of mine. She’s obviously utter perfection.
Check out those baby blues, that perfect face, the too-big bow on top of her too-short pony. And wait for it…
Those cheek dimples! Right? I miss her after I put her to bed and look forward to her waking up every morning. She’s just a 21 pound flurry of fun. You know, except for when she isn’t.
Behavior-wise, I don’t think Ellie is any better or any worse than any other 15- month-old, but when she’s mad, she is MAD. You can see it in her balled up fists and hear it in the loud, inhuman screeching sound she makes. She shakes, she turns red, and then she crieeess. A lot. And sometimes, I’m a total wuss when it comes to parenting this girl. I heard all of the standard lines before she got here, “You have to choose your battles,” and “You’ll do everything you said you wouldn’t.” The thing that surprised me the most was that it’s true.
For instance, long before I had an Ellie of my very own, I hated seeing babies/toddlers scream for something at their parents and then get their way. Sorry, but no. Ignore that mess. Let em’ scream on to teach them that screaming is absolutely not how we communicate what we want. Enter Ellie. The thing about one-year-olds is, they scream sometimes. Their little 28-inch frames feel everything at 100%. So when they want that, oh do they want that! Never mind that Ellie can sign and say please, more, eat, food, no, etc, sometimes, she forgets her words and just resorts to falling on the floor and screaming. But it wasn’t the screaming that came as a surprise to me so much as the way I reacted to it. Because the thing about moms is, they are usually multitasking. It’s in the moments that I’m unloading a dishwasher, cooking dinner on the stove, and talking to a random insurance agent on the phone that Ellie points and yells and cries. And without thinking, I just hand her what she wants, or pick her up and plop her on my hip, or do just about anything to stop the scream-fest.
And one day, I realized what I was doing. I swatted myself on the wrist for caving in when she was acting a little beasty and promised myself that I would be better. That I would, as a mom on one of my Facebook mom groups put it, ignore “junk” behavior. But what I’ve come to realize is, and let me whine for a second, it’s harrrrddddduhhhh. Boy golly gosh is it easier to just give that girl what she wants.
I’ve always been pretty against having a techno-savvy baby. It’s just a personal choice I made before I had Ellie that I wasn’t gonna do the whole cellphone or I-pad thing as a pacifier. (Stop laughing at me, and hear the rest of my story.)
When Ellie was eight months old we were staying with our friends at their grandparent's house for a weekend trip to Utah. Ellie’s bottom teeth decided it would be a good time to try to make their appearance. It was a night of loud, house-shaking, inconsolable crying. I felt so, so bad for Ellie, because I knew she was truly miserable…but I also felt so, so bad for myself and everyone that was staying in the house! No amount of milk, cuddles, singing, or numbing gel would bring her comfort. Until finally, out of utter desperation, I pulled out my little smart phone and found a Baby Einstein video on YouTube. Ellie was instantly hypnotized on the pillow next to me and finally fell silent in the crook of my arm. I kicked Michael to the couch (Another thing I swore I would NEVER do! Kick my husband out of bed for the baby!) and Einstein-style brainwashed my child until we both fell asleep. I believe my last thought before I drifted off was, “Only on special occasions…”
I stayed pretty true to my “special occasions” rule (aka “desperate times” rule) until I didn’t. In preparation for our move to Texas, I downloaded a baby-friendly app on my i-pad for the plane ride from Denver to here for the first time ever. I have to say, it worked like a charm (or super addictive brain-stimulating drug). Instead of squirming in my lap the entire flight, Ellie squashed gigantic cartoon bugs until the device finally died. She loved it! I loved it! I felt like it was a game-changer. My life was about to get way easier. I downloaded some educational apps, because let’s be real, it made me feel better about the whole thing, and decided that a few minutes a day wouldn’t hurt…especially when I really needed her to be busy so that I could get stuff done. It still sounds good in theory, but it just didn’t work out that way. Because Ellie started acting entitled to every smart device she saw. She whined for my phone, so I would,without thinking, hand her my phone, she’d whine for Nana’s phone, or Michael’s phone…and every time she got a glance of the i-pad she fell down on the floor crying for it. I would say, “This has got to stop! Back to zero electronics all the time!” one day, and then the next see her playing with my cell that I had left out and think, “If I take it from her she’ll freak out…” And let me tell you, it was during that exact scenario that I had my big girl panties epiphany.
I was letting my one-year-old call the shots. Instead of doing the right thing, I took the easy route so as to avoid a meltdown. I had to tell myself that I was the mother here, and that if I wasn’t willing to deal with a meltdown from time to time then I wasn’t worthy of the job. I rolled up my sleeves, grabbed that cellphone, and handed my girl a book instead. It was a rough two or three days, and then she got over it. She stopped expecting me to cave, she’s forgotten the i-pad even exists, and she’s just as content flipping through books and fake reading to herself for thirty or so minutes. If she does manage to pick up a phone she hands it over (after playfully running away from me) without so much as a whimper.
That’s a mom win, people. And I’ll take it!
I realize that not every toddler struts around like they are the queen of England once they come in contact with a smart phone, so this whole spiel really isn’t meant to be an anti-device thing. It’s simply to say this, I had a big mom weakness, as I’m sure each of us do, and while I still have a long way to go, I am trying to over come it.
And while it can be grueling, it’s the best kind of work.