Chasing my summer baby

Dear sisters,

It feels strange and wonderful to be chasing (walking and sometimes running) after my baby. At the library I work at our storytimes for 9-23 month olds is called “Little Movers,” which describes Calvin perfectly.

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He is still my baby: still wants to be cuddled and nursed back to sleep in the middle of the night. When he wants me, he wants me RIGHT NOW, and has taken to hugging my legs, crying out, then biting my legs when I don’t pick him up fast enough. I’m teaching myself to think of him as my little toddler, not my baby, and encouraging his moments of independence. His happiest times are spent outside, walking/trotting around. People remark on how happy he is all the time; he smiles and chatters and laughs a lot. They’re getting to see him when he’s getting his way, enjoying the outdoors or exploring some place new. When he starts feeling cooped up in the house he becomes a little tyrant, wanting me or Kevin to always play, biting or whining til we cave. It’s not hard to give in to him, though it makes activities like preparing meals, writing emails (or blog posts..cough cough), doing the dishes or packing up for the day difficult.

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This was in the midst of Hand Foot Mouth Disease. He was pretty happy during the day, but drooled like a dog. He finally got to wear his drool bandanna. 

I don’t have much to complain about though. Our days start at 5:30 or 6am and they’re packed full of play, walks, books, family dinners and cuddle sessions (and lest you think it’s all sunshine and roses: bites, whines, fighting naps and waking up at least once or twice a night). Kevin and I are enjoying evenings together, watching TV and reading parenting books together. We weren’t interested in our parenting styles for the first year or so because everything was about meeting Calvin’s needs and making sure he was happy and healthy. Now that he’s turning into a little HUMAN with opinions and frustrations we’re realizing that we have different styles and that some homework is in order.

This infographic came up while I was doing some research about parenting styles and it started a conversation between Kevin and I about how we parent. So far, we’ve agreed that we tend toward “Authoritative” which is: highly responsive, affectionate, assertive, and not restrictive with a reciprocal relationship that makes a child happy, successful, matured & confident (basically we’re amahzing parents). However, neither of us manage to sit in that sweet spot of parenting all of the time. Kevin sometimes draws from “Authoritarian”: strict, less responsive, demanding, less freedom with a more controlling relationship. I sometimes tend towards “Permissive”: indulgent, lenient, responsive, not demanding which can lead to a child feeling insecure, being demanding, self involved or aimless. Now, this infographic is obviously not an expert on child development, nor does it cite any sources or suggest any good books to read. Kevin and I used it solely as a starting point for a conversation and it was really lovely!

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It inspired me to find a few books for us to read, starting with “Peaceful Parent, Happy Child” by Laura Markham. This book’s basic premise is that our children long to be in a good relationship with us; their moments of anger and acting out are often due to an inability to deal with their big emotions. By being present and empathetic we can help them process the big emotions and peacefully resolve those moments of acting out. We, as adults, have emotional triggers that cause us to get angry and yell at our children, Markham outlines ways to move past those moments of anger and choose to learn what is affecting your child  emotionally in those frustrating moments where you just want to BLOW UP! Markham advocates for NO PUNISHMENT of any kind. The use of consequences in the Love and Logic method is too far for her. She recommends setting limits and teaching responsibility so that the child is learning from their actions. We haven’t gotten to that part of the book yet, so we’ll see if it’s a method that works well.

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I have to admit, I’m very drawn to this book because it outlines a peaceful relationship with your child. Kevin is a bit more skeptical; he questions every big statement, wants to know sources/studies that back it up, and has a hard time imagining parenting without some form of discipline (love and logic’s idea of consequences works for him). However, we have appreciated the reminders on how to be patient and gentle with Calvin. He is starting to throw temper tantrums when he can’t figure out how to do something or when he makes a mistake/doesn’t get his way. We were kind of at a loss on how to dissuade him from doing that, but this book encourages us to be present and loving and support him as he moves past his frustration. He just needs to let out those emotions and he’s back to his happy self. Eventually he’ll learn how to deal with them in less emotionally volatile ways, but he’s only 16 months old! He’s just learning how to feel a variety of emotions! We’ll have to continue reading to see what kind of behavior guidelines Markham provides.

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My sweet boy. This picture makes me want to kiss him! Don’t grow up!!!

This summer has been a wonderful one. It’s incredible to watch our little boy grow into a toddler and dream about the family we’ll be growing into in the next few years. I’ve definitely slowed my blog posting schedule as I’ve been following this little mover around. I’m hoping to get back into the swing of posting more frequently so I can remember this beautiful stage of life!

What kind of parenting style do you think you gravitate towards sisters/friends? Do you have any books that have been helpful for you?

Love to you all,

Jewel

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5 thoughts on “Chasing my summer baby

    1. Thanks Erin :-). Once you start having to parent you realize how much work you have to do on yourself! Luckily we’ve accepted the challenge.

  1. I looooooove that last picture of him. He has very nice eyebrows. Fun discussion! I have been doing a lot of reading about the Continuum Concept recently (I have a bajillion tabs open on my computer) and they similarly advocate no punishment/consequences. I think I stumbled upon it on Facebook through the writing of Elaine Sainte-Marie, who does parent coaching and writing on implementing the continuum concept (which someone wrote about hfter observing parenting in a hunter-gatherer society in South America) for modern parents. I have found the baby years very intuitive and easy but we are struggling with how to parent a six year old and a tantrum-y three year old! I am working very hard on my patience, I lose my temper and yell at the kids and then I feel absolutely terrible. This article is a great starting point, I think, and has already helped me to be more calm and not worry so much about being in ‘control’ of my kids.
    http://www.coachingforwholeness.com/blog/applying-the-continuum-concept-philosophy-to-modern-day-living
    BD and I are very similar – trying to be authoritative but he errs on authoritarian and I err on permissive! We both have things we are good at and things we fail at! Parenting is so hard, sometimes I can’t believe how difficult it is. I would like to strive for more peace in our home and there is always something to work on, but then I do remind myself sometimes what a luxury it is to worry about parenting methods 😉

    1. That is a lovely article! Thanks for sharing it. I think we’ll take a look at that parenting style!

      The other day I realized I had a headache because I was grinding my teeth from trying not to get angry with Calvin for being so whiney. I had made it to not letting my frustration out, but I was holding it in and it was actually painful ;-). I’ve been trying to be better about breathing in and out and moving past my frustration at not being able to finish cooking, etc and being with Calvin when he’s needy.

  2. Jewel I am thankful that you struggle with parenting. That means you are thinking about what will be best for Calvin. You will make mistakes, but don’t neglect admitting your mistakes to your kids. When you yell, say your sorry. I am sure you will be wonderful parents.

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