Thursday, June 5, 2008

My Kind of Mommying

I've been thinking the past few days about what kind of mom I am. Probably because I'm usually the only mom around, but now I'm home with my own and surrounded by others. After some thought, I've decided that I'm a practical one.

I've always been a practical person. JP and I were walking Landon over to the duck ponds yesterday and we passed one of those open sewer grates by the sidewalk. JP remarked that he used to be afraid of those as a kid. I said, "Really? But you can't really fall down it accidentally. You'd have to fall just at the right angle and then turn your body into it - and even then your hands or leg or something would keep you out." He said, "Well, true, but you don't think about that when you're five." But I did. I always reasoned through my fears and found that very few were worth worrying about. I was never afraid of the snakes we constantly found in our yard because I knew that copperheads were skittish and as long as I made noise they'd stay out of my way. I never worried about robbers because I figured they'd break into an empty home and not one filled with people and lights and a dog. I never worried about a lot of the things my friends did- I just rationalized them away. I still do that with almost everything; despite the nearly frantic feel of some of my blog posts, I don't get visibly worked up about much in real life.

As a mom I'm relaxed. I believe in routines but am against strict schedules. I think Landon benefits from the small deviations in his day as much as I do. I love that he has so many people in his life and he's comfortable with all of them. I pray that I never get fixated on one set plan for him or for us as a family. I think about all the bad things that could happen to us in a thousand different ways, but I don't spend much time on it- and I hope I can always look past them. JP's mom is a huge worrier and I think that is the main reason their relationship is as bad as it is today. He grew up hating how controlling she was, how she always talked about all the terrible things that could happen, and how she'd get all worked up over little things. He learned to just stop telling her anything and greatly resents how restrictive his childhood was. I remember playing for hours in the greenbelts behind our house as a kid. Now I realize how many bad things could have happened without my mom knowing - and without a cell phone to call her. But the thing is, nothing ever did, and I had a wonderful, adventurous childhood I hope to pass on to Landon.

I want to raise him to embrace challenge and change. I want home, both our physical house and our arms, to be a place where he always feels safe and secure, and from there he can venture out to try and experience new things. My parents gave me this. I was raised to be independent and adventurous, and I could be because I had such a firm foundation from which to venture out from (and inevitably come back to). I learned to do things for myself fairly young and while I love having my parents be a part of my decisions, I make them on my own and follow through on my own. And that's exactly what I hope to enable Landon to do.

So for now we keep our home life pretty consistent, but we break the routine when appropriate for family events or other big happenings. I read up on things, but don't obsess over the exact week he's supposed to hit a milestone. I ignore all the fear mongering articles and focus on the ones filled with actual facts from actual studies that include more than 10 people. I've unsubscribed from all the weekly updates because while I loved learning about what was happening while I was pregnant, now that I have the baby in front of me I don't really need them. My grandma's motto on life is that "It'll all work out" and I think that's pretty accurate. Landon is doing fantastic right now - sleeping well (although he has two more teeth about to pop through), crawling with alarming speed, pulling up on everything, walking along furniture, making all kinds of noises, and just generally charming us all.

I know there will be a lot to worry about over my lifetime as a mother and I hope I can always keep it in perspective. Landon spent his first 10 months giving us more worries than most new parents have to deal with, but it's all working out. I picked up a parenting book in the store a while ago and just before realizing I only wanted a reference-type book instead of a parenting style book, I read one sentence that has stuck with me, "Children need two things: unconditional love and clear boundaries." I think that will be my parenting philosophy. That and something about not sweating the small stuff.


  1. I'm the same way about the 'how to raise your baby' books. None of them really mesh with what I think is right for me and my family.

    I think you're doing it right ... be consistent, be loving, be flexible, be patient.

  2. I agree. My husband was brought up in a loving family, but he wasn't allowed to be independent. His mother towered over him and his every move and controlled nearly every aspect of his life until he met me. I, on the other hand, was brought up in a loving family too, but tought at a young age to be independent. I think part of that came from my own yearning to make my own decisions and support those decisions! We don't have children yet, but it's not far down the line and I often find myself thinking about subjects just like what you posted.

    I have no doubt you are doing an excellent job in raising Landon!

    Teresa - S. Illinois

  3. Sounds like you are a great Mom to me. I had a pretty lax Mom but my husband grew up with a mother who was depressed and slept all day. I think you just have to try to learn from the things your parents did right and wrong.

  4. Right on, sister.

    I am afraid of grates, though. Not that I will fall in them, but rather that MY KEYS will fall in them. There is a grate in the parking lot of our grocery store and I avoid it like the plague.

    re: parenting - I tend to be a worrywart and am married to the complete and utter polar opposite of me. We make a great team, in that way. I am now at the point where I can realistically evaluate something and determine "will my kid die doing this?"(Playing in the street - YES. Jumping on the bed - NO) Of course, I don't want my kids to ever have a broken bones, but I also do not want them to have a broken spirits. I want them to be excited about exploring their worlds. Not afraid.

    re: schedules - I refer to ours as a "framework". My kid does not know exactly what is going to happen each day, but he has a rough idea.

  5. Seriously, don't sweat the small stuff..put it in perspective. Unfortunately, I'm a serious worrier, like "What if someone forgets to hold his hand while they are walking to the park and he runs into the street?"...but we still go to the park, and I still let other people take him to the park...worrying is just something I need to get in control of...and jebus, with 3 kids by the end of this year (probably), I will have to get control, or drive myself insane. Landon's're a cool mom.

  6. Funny. I went to Borders last night desperately seeking an answer to my breastfeeding all the time through the night problem before going back to work on Monday. After reading through several parenting and feeding philosophy books, I said fuck it and went home saying "it will work out." After all, people have been raising children for centuries without books. And last night after a period of fussiness and on and off hunger between 9 and 11, Syd slept for the very first time until her 4am feeding. God must have heard the frustration in my "Our Father, which art. . ." before I fell asleep.

    Indeed, it all works out. It always does.

  7. Here's a great blog about giving kids freedom:

  8. I was once bitten by a copperhead . . . I guess that's not what you were looking for in affirmation, though, right? Heh.

  9. Oh - and PS - I don't read any of those parenting books. None of 'em.

  10. You seem like a terrific mother. What happened to lilly the cat by the way?

  11. Lilly's here with us. She rode down from Chicago in the car with my brother. She kept up a steady stream of conversation for all 1100 miles :)