I am omnipresent in Nicholas’s world. Throughout the day his bright little eyes remain fixed on me, following me from one side of the kitchen to the other, until I sit down beside him, or put him on my lap to nurse. Then, secure in the knowledge that Mommy is nearby, he turns his attention elsewhere, always keeping me in his peripheral vision.
“Yeah, you know where your mommy is,” my dad tells him. “You know you’ve got a good one.”
It’s not the first time someone has said that to me. I squirm every time. Yes, I think I’m a reasonably good mother, but…but I’m also painfully aware of how much more and better I could be.
Where is the balance between teaching independence and not playing with my kids enough? Between setting high expectations and making outrageous demands upon them?
When the whining begins, do I hold firm and teach them that whining does not yield results? Or is it a sign that I haven’t been giving them enough attention? When Alex piddles around in the morning and is still running around half an hour after being told to get dressed, am I justified in losing patience and shouting to achieve the necessary results, or am I training him to respond to nothing but anger?
If I was such a good mother, wouldn’t I put all my creative energies into finding ways to teach these lessons without resorting to raised voices—without getting angry, without making them angry? Sure, the occasional bad day is inevitable, but wouldn’t a really good mother figure out ways to get done what needs doing without making a battle of it?
For instance: Julianna is on amoxicillin three times a day. Julianna detests medicine. I tried the squirt syringe and ended up with sticky pink all over her face, neck, chest, and my hands and arms. (Yuck!) I tried using a spoon, with the same result. So I got creative. Yesterday I discovered that if I put the spoon in her mouth and leave it there till she swallows around it, she doesn’t fight me.
Encouraged, I started brainstorming ways to deal with Nicholas waking up at night. I decided he’s old enough to be a little more structured with his daytime eating habits, so instead of attempting to feed him whenever he got fussy, I made him wait 2-3 hours between feedings. Miracle of miracles, instead of endless noodling, we got six good solid feedings. (And he didn’t “strike” on the right, either, which was a relief.) And although the night wasn’t ideal, it was significantly less high-maintenance than the last several have been.
So far, so good. This morning, however, Alex completely stymied my problem solving skills.
He has a rescue rangers king with a sword that clicks into his fist. A few minutes ago, Alex tried to find a place for the king to hide/store the sword. So what did he do? He stuffed it down the crack between the arm and the overstuffed back of the couch. And lost it.
Inside the frame of the couch.
And then proceeded to completely fall apart.
I went digging and found the hole it fell into, but I’ll be darned if I can find that plastic sword by feel. And now Alex blames ME for his lost sword.