Sunday, August 19, 2012

The best kind of parenting

I slept in this morning 2 hours past normal waking time (till 8 a.m., people!). Col took Amelia for the first shift. (It's becoming a lovely Sunday morning routine.) I woke up refreshed and feeling mentally clean. Well, as clean as a groggy mind can feel at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning. This statement of freshness did not prevent me from uttering a parenting criticism with the first morning breath.

"You fed her peas for breakfast?!"

"I fed her whatever that green stuff was in the fridge."

"It was peas. Why didn't you feed her fruit or oatmeal or something more breakfast-y?"

"It was the only thing in there." (Note to self: if I really do want to control everything that passes through baby's lips, must. leave. in. plain. sight. in. fridge.)

"Well, did she eat it?"

"Yup, all of it," he said proudly.

"Well, I guess it's ok to give her something savory for breakfast. We eat savory breakfasts sometimes right?" In retrospect I don't know why I cared so much. It's so silly. Why am I such a control freak when it comes to parenting? Is it because I'm the mom? Are all moms like that? Or just first-time moms? Or is it just me? 

Thankfully, I have a husband with pretty thick skin and a sense of humor. He didn't seem to mind my snarkiness.

Which leads me to my next awesome announcement of the morning: after that exchange, I put A down for a nap and went running (in my 5-yr-old running shoes that have been worn a total of maybe 15 times). It felt good. I felt strong. 

I used my run (as I always used to do) for the quiet introspection I've been looking for. It worked. It works every time. I thought about my goals and about my life and about my loves (Col and Meals) and family. I let lots of things go. That felt really good. I focused on breathing. I killed those hills. All of them. I added on an extra loop. I felt that good.

Towards the end of my run, I passed a little scene that humbled me a bit. It was a couple of young women (in their early 20s I'd say) getting in a car with a young child. One of the women looked like she had had way too much fun last night. Her voice was all raspy from too much smoking and partying. 

She yelled out to the boy, laughing, "Hey Ry, do you need some Dunkin' Donuts right now? Cause I definitely need some Dunkin' Donuts right now." He laughed back. I bet he was soooo excited to go to Dunkin' Donuts. And in that moment, I realized that this boy was happy. Even though he was being taken care of by women (mom? sisters? sitters?) who were probably not leading the best life examples, he seemed loved (from the 15 second exchange I witnessed) and he was laughing. Isn't that all that matters?

I thought to myself, "love and laughter—those are the two most important parenting skills." The love part I've got down. The laughter, which Colin always has in spades, I need to work on. Constantly. If only I didn't get so caught up with peas and oatmeal.

As the two women peeled away towards Dunkin' Donuts with the boy in the back-seat, they each flung their arms out the open windows in contentment, lit cigarettes in hand. That bummed me out and snapped me out of my rose-colored view on life.

Ok, so maybe the "love and laughter" thing is a little too simplistic. But minus the cigs and feeding second-hand smoke to a tyke, it was a sweet interaction that taught me a lesson.

And now I need to go apologize to my hubby and tell him I love him. He got Meals to eat her peas at 6 in the morning. How great is that?

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