Things are brewing for our little family that simultaneously make my head spin and my heart pound. I don’t know when life is going to even out — I feel like we’ve been walking a tight-rope for years, even before the addition of Cece. But this has the potential to make things incredible and I am, once again, relinquishing control and just going. If I had more Faith, or whatever, I would give it up to The Big Kahuna, but for now I’ll just let go. That’s a blog post for another time.
Cece is more than 7 months and less that 8. She is pulling up on everything and doing a little wobbly legged stand for a split second that makes my heart stop. She smiles and two tiny teeth wink from her bottom gums. She knows her name, Mama, Daddy, Peter (her favorite stuffed animal) and various grandparents. She isn’t saying words yet, but her sad/tired/hungry cries sound a lot like Mama-mama-mama.
She is sweet and cute and so frustrating sometimes. Do other parents think that there are two versions of their kids? When she is screaming and crying, beating her little fists against me, I look down at her face and it is screwed up in an angry grimace and I swear it’s not her. But I know it is, I know that this hysterical little ball of energy is also my daughter, but sometimes I don’t recognize her. This is her personality expanding, I know, into something new and foreign and separate from me.
It is a battle, this mom thing. I make a conscious effort to remain calm, to sooth and speak to her in a level voice. But sometimes, I have to hand her to her dad or lay her down and step away because this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I am not usually a calm and level-headed person. Before Cece, I prided myself on my temper. It was a doozy, something I claimed as part of my heritage. The fiery, Irish poet temper ready to flame forth at any given moment. It served me well in college, in careers, in social situations. I could control it and enflame it and use it as a tool. But now, I have to douse it and push it way down. And that is foreign to me. It gets easier every time, but it is still something I struggle with. I want Cece to learn, as I did, how tempers are normal and part of who we are, but that there is a time and place to bring them out.
It is such a fine line, this gentle parenting thing. I want to be the mom who soothes her kids with gentle words and actions when they are wound up and ready to pop. But I don’t want to be the mom who let’s them run rampant over others while I try to “gentle” them into behaving. There is a time and a place for a stern talking-to, and I want to perfect that. I want her to know that her spirit can be wild and free and adventurous, but when I tell her to calm down and chill out that she better do it. I think back to my own childhood, and while there were certainly times I stuck my fingers in my ears and said na-na-I-can’t-hear-you, my mom was very good at this balance. I learned that there were consequences to my actions — and I want Cece to learn this too.
Sometimes I feel exposed and already chastened when I admit that I will probably ground my kids and make them sit in time out and raise my voice at appropriate times. It was really hard to type that sentence — like someone is already judging me. They probably are. But you know what, all that shit happened to me as a kid and it worked. I don’t resent my mother for sending me to my room because I was being mean to my little brother. I don’t resent my parents for taking away toys, outings, privileges because I was being acting out. I don’t resent my parents for raising their voice (God dammit, why can’t I just type yelling? That is how scared I am of the judge-y Mom Brigade) when I was being a bully or treating someone in an awful way or just generally being a little shit. They used the tools they had at their disposal to teach me right from wrong and I will do the same thing.
Being a mom means going off on tangents, apparently. But these are the things that run through my head now that I’m a parent, the things that I worry about and turn over and over in my head. And she’s not even a toddler! Big Kahuna help me. I’m in for a wild ride.