Yesterday was my baby shower. Four of my friends brought children under the age of 18 months with them, and all four children were unbelievably well behaved. The only child who cried in the two-hour period was my nine-month-old niece, who had been happily sitting on my mother-in-law’s lap until my sister-in-law (my niece’s mother) talked loud enough for my niece to hear. She immediately cried for mommy, but stopped once she changed hands.
My friend’s 17-month-old son walked around and squeezed the teddy bear my mom gave me for the baby and tapped the boxes gifts came in, charming the pants off everyone but not making a mess or a sound. The children didn’t compete with each other for attention, and the two newest babies (two months and four months old) just stared and were cute the whole time.
Afterward, my mom remarked about what good parents my friends are and how incredibly well behaved their children are. I agreed that I have awesome friends and that they’re good parents, but I also felt a twinge of insecurity. What if my baby is colicky or even just normal? Will I compare my son to these “perfect” children in my mind? How much can parents control how quiet a 2-month-old baby is, anyway? I’m thinking a lot of it is just the personality of the baby at that point.
Jon Boy and I will joke to each other sometimes and say, “Let’s not have bratty kids, okay?” The thing is, we do think a lot about parenting and about being firm with rules and boundaries without being mean. I think that when kids are genuinely bratty (as opposed to just active or even difficult), the blame is entirely on the parents. Brats aren’t born; they’re made. I just hope Jon Boy and I can avoid making them.
Which brings me to think about our childbirth class yesterday. The last fifteen minutes or so were spent talking about parenting. The teacher asked three questions: 1) What did your parents do that you liked and want to do? 2) What do you wish your parents had done that they didn’t? 3) What did your parents do that you want to avoid doing?
I asked questions 1 and 3 on BB a while back, and I’ve been musing over them ever since. ‘Cause I don’t want to just blindly parent like my parents did. That’s bad for three reasons. One, Jon Boy’s parents didn’t do things the same way mine did, so it would inevitably lead to head butting between us. Two, doing anything without thinking is a bad idea in my book because then you take the bad with the good. Three, if I do things just like my parents did, I’ll almost certainly be a bad parent because I’m not them. I need to work with Jon Boy to find a parenting style that fits me and our children, to find ways to discipline that I’m actually willing and able to put into practice. My parents spanked me quite a lot. Last night, Jon Boy and I decided to try to not use spanking if at all possible. I think that’s a good choice for us because I’m pretty sure I’d feel terrible every time I hit my kid, no matter how “bad” he was being. Besides, I don’t see it as being as productive as some other methods.
Anyway, all this rambling is really just me working through the fact that sometime in the next three weeks, I will become a mother. Probably the next two weeks, actually. The thought scares me to death sometimes, but I also feel like it’s the right next step in our lives. I think parenting will help us to grow and experience joy in ways we wouldn’t be able to otherwise.