Thursday, March 8, 2012

'Enjoy it while you can...'

Lately I've been thinking a lot about parenting styles, and I've been reflecting on a phrase I'm hearing often: "Enjoy [it] while you can..." "It" refers to whatever positive experience I'm having with Natalie. This phrase is then almost always followed by "because..." and some statement. Usually what this implies is, "Things are about to get crappy."

Call me ridiculous, but part of me also can't help but think that there is also a hidden "misery loves company" element to this all in which these advice-givers, consciously or not, are waiting for that crappy period to commence so they can have something to commiserate about.

Part of me also can't help but think that people are so used to being told that parenting a newborn is so difficult that they have to make their experience sound difficult so it will seem like they're doing everything right. Who is ever willing to admit that their experience parenting a newborn was easy? (Thankfully, two of my girlfriends with slightly older babies did admit that to me, and those were a couple refreshing moments of honesty.)

But I digress.

How does "Enjoy it while you can" typically come up in conversation?

For example, with Natalie sleeping through the night -- nine hours in a row for the past two nights, specifically -- I'm told, "Enjoy her sleeping through the night while you can because soon that's going to stop."

This is ultimately a rhetorical statement (and rather annoying to boot) that doesn't warrant a response, but if I were to respond, it would sound something like this: "Thank you, I will enjoy it!"

I feel like too many parents -- new and old -- spend their lives worrying. I recognize that worrying is part of parenting, but this more consuming philosophy seems to be to always be preparing for the future rather than enjoying the present. I suppose this is part of the definition of helicopter parenting -- hovering over the child being ready to anticipate disaster and scoop up the child before it strikes.

This blog clearly chronicles the fact that I like to be prepared, I like to be organized, but I also feel like I've lived this lifestyle to build up to what matters, to get ready for something important. And you know what, that important thing has happened. It's here. I'm living it.

So, despite my genetic predisposition toward worrying and my inclination toward pessimism, I am shocking myself by being (by my assessment) a rather calm parent. In addition to keeping my ongoing resolution to accept the things I cannot control firmly in mind, I am also living a life where I realize I do not know what the future holds, nor do I care to, and I'd like to take parenting one day at a time. As a teacher (in an affluent suburban area) I've encountered many a helicopter parent and I want to avoid that parenting style as much as I can.

Most March 8ths in the D.C. area do not produce temperatures in the low 70s. Most March 8ths the majority of flowers are not in bloom.

Most March 8ths I am not home with an eight-week-old baby girl. And maybe if most eight-week-old babies don't sleep for nine hours straight then I'm just lucky.

Rather than looking at the blooming flowers and thinking that one day they'll die, or looking at Natalie and thinking one day maybe she won't sleep through the night, I'm enjoying it while I can, and I'm totally happy.

5 comments:

  1. Love this! It is so, so true. I have a 2 year old son, and I think it just gets better and better. Sure, each stage has its challenges, but there are also the wonderful parts.

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  2. Ha! Love it! I wish instead of hearing, "enjoy it while you can," someone told me what to really expect when I had my baby almost seven weeks ago. They really could have skipped the fluff parts like, "you'll watch him sleep for hours...." Friends failed to mention the rest of the statement: "You'll watch him sleep for hours to make sure he's still breathing!" You know, minor details. :) I can only pray my little man soon follows in the sleeping footsteps of your sleepy daughter. Nine hours would be heaven! :)

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  3. Thanks, Emily! I hope I will continue to share your sentiment :)

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  4. A Pea in the Pod: Congrats on your little man! Because of my inherent worrying, I anticipated the whole checking to see if the baby is breathing thing, so I registered for one of those Angel Care monitor -- the kind that tells you if you baby hasn't breathed for 20 seconds. This will be subject of a future post, but lately it's been keeping me from checking to see if Natalie is still alive during her long stretches of sleep!

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  5. I guess people say it, myself included because babies have a way of showing you just how fast time really passes. We are aging at the same rate, but it is so much more awesome with babies. I realized a while ago after believing I had a favorite baby stage, that the best baby stage is the one you are in.

    I can say, watching you with Natalie, I truly believe how well she is doing during the day and night is a direct reflection of how you have always been such a calm mother. She certainly falls into the category of awesome easy baby, but while some of that is nature, a lot of it is nurture. She knows how to soothe herself because you helped her to learn to do that. You fell right into the role of knowing what to do without sweating for a sec and I'm in awe of your ability to do so. I wish I had not been so scared at first. I was and am still scared that Sam will stop breathing at night and I will find him unresponsive. I would think the first few nights, ok we made it one more night. Maybe some of his has to do with my sisters loss, but I'm also pretty much high on the list of worry warts as you liked to call me :)

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