This blog is about a parent, but I wouldn’t call it a parenting blog. The term “parenting blog” suggests a general editorial stance of authority or even just familiarity with the ins and outs of raising small children. There are parenting moments that baffle me or seem to require more effort than I give or know how to give.
As a dad, I know and do more with Silas (who just celebrated his 142nd day on planet Earth by pooping) than I did when Sarah was the same age. I’m primary caregiver to both kids now, but for most of Sarah’s first 2 years, I was working the days, evenings and weekends of the restaurant biz. For awhile, it was wake up, leave for work, be gone all day and then often arrive home after Sarah was in bed. We started Sarah in daycare, moved her to a babysitter, then – just a week before The Event – switched to having me watch her and Silas and work nights.
This blog has resulted in wisecracks about me posturing myself as Superdad, but in terms of fathering ability, I’d rank myself about average. I probably care more than most, I put in a lot of hours as daddy, and I give a lot of love to these babies and their wonderful mother, but I know there’s stuff I’m not doing. I know better parents than I are not allowing themselves to be so worn down by the routine of diapering, feeding, bathing, playing with, burping and chasing around that they lazy out when they finally do arrive at a free second. I don’t think a daily nap was granted by the Bill of Rights, but I often act as though it were.
I get tired more easily than I used to. At least a little of that has to do with me still recovering from a compound ankle fracture and surgery. I’m returning to normal but am not all the way back. I’ve recovered enough to tackle this assignment, but it’s obviously more difficult than it would have been minus broken bone.
All that said, I want to be able to use this blog to solicit advice from parents more seasoned than myself. The past week or so, Silas has been a lot fussier during everyday activity, he’s been staying awake longer and later, and he’s had discomfort I haven’t been been able to automatically soothe. He’s been crying more, and my usual tricks for making him happy and calm have seemed to work less and less. Consequently, my reserves of patience have dropped to lower levels than usual.
I have a little mantra when I start to get upset with Silas for crying and fussing. It comes from a Xeroxed, folded newsletter mailed to us by a local parenting organization. There was an article on teething, which – given Silas’s age and lack of signs of cold or flu – probably accounts for the pain he’s experiencing. Among the bulleted advice points on how to make teething easier for your kid was the generic admonition to give the little dude extra “tender loving care” during the teething process.
It was simple, obvious, even cliched, but those three words resonated with me. Tender loving care. When I’m frustrated, when I’m getting short with His Lil’ Screaminess, I softly say those words out loud, and then I put them into practice. Or try my best to. That’s what my baby boy deserves. I have immense love for him, and he’s experiencing pain that he is completely not at fault for. What better time for some TLC, you know? It’s the best thing I’ve found so far for getting my patience back.
What I’d like to know, and maybe this would be a good one to ask the parents from “19 Kids and Counting,” is if there’s a magic, catch-all parenting secret or karmic maturity trick on how to restore and stabilize patience to the adult brain before your emotions succumb to baby stress. Or are baby-stress reactions mostly motivated by selfishness and just something to suck up and deal with?
Probably, the latter is true, but I’d like to hear words of parenting wisdom and sanity-preserving techniques from those with more knowledge and experience than I on the topic at hand. Maybe I can finally get some comments around this blog. That’d be cool.
BABY PICTURE OF THE DAY