Every month we take a picture of The Engineer’s Baby with her moose and her sheepskin. And every month I think about how much she has grown and changed. This month she has:
- grown 3 cm
- gained 400 g
- seriously increased the speed at which she can stand
- improved her eating in leaps and bounds
- added lots of new consonants to her babbling
- “grown up” in that intangible way
This month she has also challenged more than any month previously. In my last post, I talked about all the things that have been going on since we came home. The couple of weeks since have added even more to the mess in the form of terrible sleep, a first cold, and a not-so-fun Valentine’s trip away.
But as I look back on the month, I actually look at it as one of my most positive months of parenthood. Because here’s the thing: it’s through the challenges that you grow and learn. I’ve had some moments, for sure, but this month I’ve also learned so much about who I am and the parent I want to be. I’ve thought about my own childhood. I’ve thought about our relationship. I’ve written and made lists and read and thought and meditated. And at the end of that, I feel so much more confident.
I don’t know everything, but I know that rather than teaching her, I want to provide an environment in which she can learn. I know that I want to meet all of her needs, but that I don’t necessarily want to meet all of her wants. I know that I want to set a positive example, and be a person she would want to emulate. I know that she needs challenges and frustration to grow and change, even though it’s not easy for me to watch her struggle. I know that in allowing and encouraging her big feelings, I am setting good foundations for her. I know that as the person she trusts the most, I will bear the brunt of most of those big feelings. And I know that although that is hard (hard hard hard), that is also love. Love isn’t just the easy, the warm and fuzzy, the adorable. Love is the struggle, the acceptance, the working through.
I know, of course, that these will be lessons I will learn over and over as a parent. I know that her big feelings now have NOTHING on the big feelings of a toddler. I don’t anticipate this making me a perfect parent (or even close). But for now, these are the lessons I needed to learn, and I like to think they will stand me in good stead for the craziness that is parenting.