Having a social child

My parents tell stories about me as a child.  Hiding under the chairs at social gatherings or church.  Clinging to their legs in the company of strangers, or even people I’d met but didn’t see on a daily basis.  My stranger-danger was always on high alert.  And being the older sister, I made sure to protect my little bro by keeping him hiding out right along side me.  It wasn’t until I was in high school and part of the Speech Team (kind of like a  competitive theatre team) that I started to come out of my shy-shell.  I just wasn’t created as a social butterfly.

We had friends of the family who’s kids were younger than me and far more outgoing.  Always talking to everyone and anyone.  Always the center of attention.  I never understood how they were that way, and just assumed it was because of their parents being social butterflies and passing that along to them.

Then J came along.  He’s almost 3 now (OMG) and he is the quintessential social butterfly.  Everywhere we go, he’s making conversation with random people.  He’ll ask strangers at the store what something is.  He wants to tell anyone in earshot about his favorite toy.  The clients that come into my office hear all about his adventures, or his small water bottles that Pop-pop bought just for him.  He’s a talker.  A sharer.  A little spit-fire.

I have no idea where he gets it from.  Me and the Hubs are not particularly outgoing – at least not to that degree.  J’s stranger-danger seems to be dangerously low at times though.

I love that he’s so trusting in a lot of ways.  His trust makes him outgoing and adventurous.  He has no boundaries for trying new things, meeting new people, sharing his story with the world.  His ability to easily and effortlessly put himself out there will help him all his life.

I try and keep all that in mind on the days where my parental worries kick in.  When I get anxious that all his trust will put him in a dangerous situation.  It’s an internal struggle.

C isn’t old enough to see her whole personality yet.  She loves to flirt with anyone that smiles at her, but she’s only now walking and is still fully focused on people she knows.  Guess we will see!


The “advice” trap

Ever wonder why parents – more likely, Mom’s – love to share their stories and struggles about their kids with anyone who will listen? Even complete strangers? Why mom’s tend to gravitate towards the many, many, many online parenting forums and Facebook groups?  I have fallen into this very habit in the last year or so, too.  Although lately I’ve had some thoughts as to why it happens to so many of us.

I’m not saying that these forums and groups are bad, at least not always.  They can be a great place for mom’s to release some steam, share their experiences, and look for advice on their own situations from other mom’s. Especially useful for those Mama’s out there who are first time moms, single moms, or who don’t have many other mama friends.  With the invention of the internet and chat rooms and blogs and Facebook, Mom’s now have a way to make connections with other mothers, and find support where otherwise they may struggle.

But, the downfall I’ve found is that often times we all fall into this kind of trap, where upon trying to find a safe place to talk about our experiences, we put our entire lives out there.  We air all of our dirty laundry to complete strangers.  We feel safe in knowing that we don’t actually know any of these people, so we share far too much about our personal lives.  In doing this we open ourselves up to judgment and ridicule from the very people we were asking for support.  More often than not, I’ve seen someone’s post be misconstrued for sarcasm, or venting be misinterpreted as a cry for help beyond the obligatory “I feel your pain, you’ve got this” response.  Suddenly, your safe place is no longer that.  Even if 90% of the responses you get are positive and encouraging, the other 10% will make you feel like crap.  Your little irony about how expensive baby food is suddenly becomes a soapbox for all the “DIY” mom’s, somehow shaming you into feeling as if you are doing the worst thing for your kid by buying off the shelf instead of making everything from the organic-home-grown garden you should have.

So back to the question of why.  Why do us moms feel that we need the validation from other moms? Why do we tend to ask complete strangers questions about our own flesh and blood?  Why do we rely on others to make us feel like we are being good parents?

I have no flippin idea.

I do know that we all tend to fall into this trap at some point or another.  We all want to feel validated.  We all want our opinions, experiences, and know-how to be important and valued.  We want to feel like we know what we are doing, and that our trial and error can, and will, help someone else.  Truth be told, none of us know what we are doing.  We are all walking around with our eyes closed, trying not to run into the walls.  We are all struggling to find our way as parents.  And, maybe, trying to find this validation from others will shed some light.

Mama-ism: You’re life will never be the same

There’s lots of things you’ll discover about being a parent.  So many ways that you life will never be the same.  Changes you will make to your life without so much as a thought about it.  Some of them you’ll think back on and wonder how the transition happened so effortlesly.  Sometimes you’ll look back and wonder how one little creature could have such a huge impact on certain aspects or habits of your life…

The most common question I’ve found myself asking is in a group setting where we’ve spent the entire time talking about J or things child related…What did we used to have conversations about before we were parents?

But the one that caught me most by surpise?  As a parent, your bathroom and personal hygene routine will never be the same!

Ever pooped with your little one sitting on your lap?  If you’re a parent (especially a mom), your answer is probably yes!

Yup…never thought you’d cross that line…sure, when you got married you stopped making the effort to close the bathroom door when you pee…but you’d never put that in the same category as letting another person sit on your lap while you pooed.

I’d never really thought about the oddness of this particular new habit until a friend of mine asked if I’d ever peed with J on my lap…ooohh if only that were the extent of it!  Maybe you could avoid doing this if you were at home where you could stash the kiddo somewhere safe while you relieved yourself…but what about when you’re at the store by yourself?  They don’t have child holders in the stalls so you can use both hands to use the potty…so you get really good at using one hand to do your business and the other to hold your little one – who’s too big to be in a carseat and too little to not wander out of the stall while you’re stuck on the toilet!  Oh the conundrum of being a parent!

There’s also the showering with the door open or the little one in the boucy seat right outside the curtain…the getting dressed or undressed with a constant audience…and every other possible thing that you’d normally try and keep “in private” suddenly becomming a 2+ person job.

Ain’t it grand 🙂

The Sisterhood of Motherhood

There’s something about being pregnant, being a mom that brings other mother’s together.  A common bond that you now all intimately share.  Random strangers you encounter while out and about, friends that you’ve lost touch with, cousins, distant high school acquaintances all suddenly become closer to you.  Drawn together by this little pull of motherhood. 

People you barely know, or wouldn’t normally approach suddenly have this approach-ability to them.  A common thread that you can tug on to enter into a conversation that you wouldn’t normally have had.  “How far along?” “When are you due?” “Boy or girl?” Aren’t deemed as inappropriate or prying questions when coming from someone else in the same boat.  There’s no need  to guard yourself and your growing belly from the reaching out of curious hands from a mother who’s carrying a belly of her own.  

If you are through the pregnancy part and have little ones of common ages, those silly little creatures we love so much become the strings that tie us together instead.  Your little one catches the attention of the little one at the next table and all of a sudden an instant friendship of sorts is formed with a complete stranger, if only for a few quick seconds.  An understanding that is inherent and buried so deep that you don’t even question it.

Mom’s get it.  Mom’s to be are on their way to getting it. “IT” being the all-knowing and yet totally unknown adventure that you’ve entered into by becoming a parent.  The even playing field that life becomes the second that you enter into this new chapter in your life.  Total strangers who find this one common link in otherwise unrelated worlds or societies.

How powerful this one little thing can be…

“Mama knows best” syndrome

As a new parent, you’ll find that you generally aren’t all that open to trying other people’s suggestions and opinions on how to raise your child.  Generally.  However we are much more willing to take advice from so-called experts through books on online postings.  Whether it has to do with sleep schedules, potty training, vaccinations etc. etc., I’ve found it increasingly hard to take other parents advice unless I specifically ask for it.  That being said I am also guilty of this when it comes to my own hubby and his ideas about J.

As you know, J still doesn’t sleep through the night.  The hubby has basically refused to get up with him anytime during the night unless I make him take a turn (which I generally don’t).  On a good night J wakes up about every 4 hours, which is pretty decent…albeit not ideal.  Tonight Hubby suggested that we should try putting J to bed later than his usual 7pm bedtime to see if that makes a difference.  Maybe if we wear him out more, he’ll sleep longer – was his rational.  My immediate answer?  NO.

Aaaaand that’s where my “mama knows best” syndrome reared its ugly head.  My reasoning? Well everything that I’ve read from said so-called experts, is that when kiddos wake up early that means that you need to put them to bed earlier.  Doesn’t really make sense…but in our previous trials with bedtime, it did seem to help to put J to bed earlier.  And I don’t want to screw with his bedtime schedule.  Turns out I do this a lot.  Almost always actually.  Whenever Daddy makes a suggestion I tell him why he’s wrong and we end up continuing with whatever we were doing before.

At this point I feel like it’s reflex.  After all, I should know my little one best right?  I can’t say that I like being “that mama” though.  I don’t think I realized how anti-suggestion I was until the Hubbs pointed it out.  I’m probably more polite about it with other people.  And actually I think I’m much better at swapping ideas with other mama’s.  Why I feel the need to say NO to all the Hubby’s ideas is a little confusing.

Oh, the things you discover about yourself as you are also discovering the many twists and turns of parenthood!  Thankfully I have a wonderful Hubby who doesn’t take my Crazy Mama moments too seriously 🙂