Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Help Wanted: Neurotic Mommy seeks Perspective

I was reading a few parenting books last night. Bad decision. Now I feel like a neglectful mommy. Apparently, Peter should be learning to shake his head no and follow simple directions, like pointing to his tummy or his feet. He's not.

I have no reason to think he is delayed, but he can't do these things. Why? Because we don't do them. We rarely gesture aside from the few ASL signs we use with him (book, more, nurse, eat, done, dance, want, ball). I haven't been teaching him body parts. I feel silly being concerned about this; he is not even ten months old!

But, like most mommies, I want only the best for him. As a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I should have oodles of time to devote to teaching him through music and books and play. All my insecurities now focus on my mothering abilities.

This morning, he played independently for about 20 minutes with a set of stacking cups he hadn't seen until today. And I wondered, is it because they were new? Should I be rotating his toys (all of which fit in 2 cubic feet, minus stuffed animals and the exersaucer)? Is he learning enough from his play time?

Educationally starved boy, with most of his toy collection emptied onto the floor.
He can say Mama, Dada, and occasionally Papa (my dad) with meaning, and I think he used "Hi" intentionally at church last week. No German or ASL yet.

How do you keep from becoming a neurotic mommy?! (And any recommendations for good parenting books?)


  1. Have more children. That's how you stop feeling neurotic about your child's development. Just kidding (mostly)

    I think you should enjoy the books when they match up or when you're ahead and disregard them when you're not. Unless there's a serious issue that you need to discuss with your family care provider, there's a large range of normal. Some kids do certain things early, some later. Give him freedom to explore and play. Give him love when he asks.

    If you're reading parenting books, they're for later-when you're in the midst of discipline questioning. At 10 months, he needs to learn that he is loved unconditionally.

    And you're doing a fantastic job nurturing him!

  2. You are most certainly not a neglectful parent!! You are awesome!

    Some of my favorite parenting books are "raising our children, raising ourselves" by naomi aldort and "unconditional parenting" by alfie cohen...both are great and what I aspire to be!

    Also the moby is a stretchy wrap (which you probably know) and soon you might need to switch to a woven wrap (more expensive but can find them used) for more support for both you and Peter. I'm currently struggling with pain from babywearing and there is a new group in Syracuse called CNY Babywearing (it's a BWI official group) that's been helping me. They are switching the meetings to Saturdays if you're ever in town and want to come! That was really long and totally unsolicited...

    Miss you!


  3. Hi, Liana:
    Can't sleep. Our kids are 25 and 21 and I still toss in bed worrying about them. You have lots of years to worry about big things you have no control over.

    As a little guy, Peter's cup is full of love from his parents and many other people. These years are about building confidence so that he - like you before you started school - can explore the world, making choices based on safe experiences, before he enters the world without you nearby. Emily was four months old when we left her in the Nursery at church for the first time... That was her first out-of-the-house-without-Mommy experience I did not share with her. (I counted the seconds until I could go retrieve her!) Up to that point, all of her experiences were with us or in our home with a loving caregiver (my mom, probably). People told me, "You have to let her experience things." Fine, but not too soon, not without her mother very nearby, and not until I am ready, too.

    Have another baby and things will change very rapidly. Peter will seem like an adult (okay, a very short adult) when a newborn enters the home.

    Louise Bates Ames writes great books titled "Your One Year Old", "Your Two Year Old", etc. Our library carried them so I would check those out at the appropriate ages. Growth cycles, body types, interest levels and even the discussions on extroverts and introverts were very helpful to me as we entered new phases of development.

    Peter has never been a child before, you are new parents, and what your family does is right for you. Often parents use their children as a gauge for their own worthiness. Not so, Grasshopper! We raised two children in the same home and one is somewhat shy, the other very outgoing. Both are perfect the way they are. One saves money, the other spends hers AND mine. Both are perfect the way they are (well, I am hoping the saving increases once college is complete). Emily and Laura were raised with faith in God and involved in an organized religion. Both have a faith that gives them strength.

    Parents bring their own upbringing to a marriage, and when you experience something for the first time together is when we draw from our own history. My family shared one vehicle, however John's family owned a car dealership. Different expectations when our kids drove. My family went camping or to a lake resort for one week each year as vacation. John had been to Hawaii twice before graduating from High School. Again, different expectations when planning a vacation. (I must say, Hawaii ROCKS! We've been there three times together...) Now Emily has been to Europe three times, and Laura loves to tube and camp and go the Ozarks for vacation. (That has a lot to do with the saving/spending comment earlier.)

    So, back to bed for me. I feel confident that Peter is sleeping peacefully in his bed, eager to begin a new day of exploring his world with the loving, protective arms of Mommy close by.

    Enjoy each day!

  4. Remember, there were parents parenting children before there were books about how to be a parent and parent your child. Not that books don't have their place, they do and they CAN be helpful, BUT when they are starting to make you question your parenting in a situation where you need not question it then step away! There are so many different ways to parent your child and you will do what is best for Peter as well as for you and Jeremy. As long as you and your husband can agree on the important things and that you support each other in your parenting choices you will be just find. Just make sure that you and Jeremy keep an open dialog about how best to raise Peter and take what various books say with a grain of salt. And really, (and I know there are different ways people interpret it), but there are always the Scriptures. Read them together as a family and decide together how they are guiding you to raise Peter (and any future children.

    (Also, remember, when it comes to little boys, they tend to develop physically ahead of the average and verbal/communications skills tend to be a little slower to develop - and little girls tend to do the opposite.)

    Just keep showing Peter all the love that you have for him and the rest will fall into place. And remember, if a man written book ever makes doubt that you are being a good mom to Peter, it is not the book for you!

  5. Thank you thank you thank you. I really appreciate the support and all of you taking time to respond and encourage me here. It means a lot.

  6. Each kid develops at a different rate. In a the same family. You can help them along but they will develop when they are ready. Enjoy this stage while you can.

  7. @Lisa: I'll try. :-) Thanks for stopping by!