Skill set

It occurred to me today that no-one ever talks about “skilled parenting”. Someone might be called a good parent, a natural parent, a wonderful parent – yet I don’t think I’ve ever ever heard someone’s caregiving described as skillful or similar. This struck me while I was doing one of those instantaneous and complex mental assessments of immediate priorities, which are all the more difficult with another bub, and thinking of how much skill is involved in managing things so that life runs smoothly. Forward planning and fleet-footed reassessment. I see other mums do this too. My cousin’s partner is amazing, when we were camping I was like wow, she’s got this totally sussed.

It’s kinda stink that this isn’t spoken of as a skill, which it very much is, but more as a knack or a gift or a talent. It diminishes the nature of the effort and -possibly more damaging – it suggests that ya got it or ya don’t. But that’s not true. Parents who aren’t naturally patient can develop patience, parents who aren’t very organised can learn how to become more so, parents who aren’t immediately good at reading the mood of a toddler can figure it out through trial and error. We have to, just to get through the day.

Tonight thoughts (slice of life)

Yesterday I was sick. I think we failed to properly reheat some food from the freezer, I was vomiting all day – ughhhh. Mr Daddy had to come home from work to take over the parenting. I pretty much stayed in bed from the time he got home. Bub wasn’t getting full satisfaction from the weak milk and so wanted to feed more frequently. Little dude was content to watch Peppa Pig all day so at least one person in the house was happy. I was still recovering this afternoon and had a nap without setting an alarm, so it was 5pm by the time I arrived at creche today. After creche we went to get Mr Daddy from work, he’d texted earlier saying he was now sick too. Damn.

The little dude chatted away in the car, telling his little brother all about the day (“Me did painting Benman!”, etc).

Bub cried a lot in the car, so between the crying and the toddler commentary, it was quite the cacophony. The little dude used to cry in the car too as a baby. It stressed me out then. One nice thing about second time round is that the crying doesn’t bother me as much. When the little dude was a baby and would cry, I’d feel myself get all tense and flustered. When bub cries, I don’t have that emotional response – it’s more like, ah well, babies cry, he’s just communicating his needs and I’ll meet them asap and it’s fine; or he’s expressing discomfort but he has to put up with it because this is something that has to happen and he’ll get used to it (cars, putting clothes on). Weirdly, having a toddler also helps – when bub is crying, I try to explain to the little dude in what I hope is a reassuring way, and that reminds me there’s nothing to stress about. The little dude has been a little too receptive to the explanations. When we’re at home and bub starts crying, he will announce loudly “Benman crying, need more milk drink Mummy nipbles!!”, which is accurate but it’s only a matter of time before he says it in public and I’ll be mortified.

So I’m driving along, and the little dude is all “what dat shop dere Mummy?” and “yook Mummy, yook Benman, bus! What number bus dat bus Mummy? Where going?” and
“red yight means stop, geen yight means go” and “me go Daddy office? Me go see Daddy office?” and “oh no pick nose too much, nose bleeding”. Toddlers in cars: so much more distracting than checking a cellphone, yet not illegal. But it’s cool, the car chats. I like it.

Later, while I was putting the little dude to bed, I could hear bub crying in the other room. I tried to cut our lullaby session short to go give bub a feed, but as soon as I left the room he started crying and calling out for me “Mummy dtome back!”. Mr Daddy looked like he might collapse if he got out of bed, so I just passed him the baby once fed and went back to little dude. He always wants extra lullabies on days when he hasn’t seen much of me. He looked up when I opened the door, still crying, and I climbed into his bed to comfort him. I lay down facing him and stroked his hair, and he smiled and stroked my hair too and said “only want more Mummy dsing dsongs and Mummy yie down in me bed and no Mummy say dgoodnight.” It’s a lovely stage where he can verbalise what he wants yet also not apply any self-conscious filter to the way it’s expressed.

As I write this, I’m sitting up in bed and bub is asleep on my chest. Mr Daddy is on the couch so he can get a good sleep. Bub woke a short while ago, I’d put him in his bed after a feed and just as I was about to get in bed myself he cried and I went to him and found his outfit and bedding covered in spit up milk. Fortunately he went back to sleep quickly after he was changed.  Now I’m holding him upright for a while in case, don’t want a second spill.

He’s so cuddly and snuggly. His outfit is a grey merino onsie so he looks especially like a baby koala.

 

Locked out

Mr Daddy and the little dude got locked outside this afternoon. I was inside feeding bub and I heard the knock on the back door but wanted to let bub finish feeding before I let them in.

Next minute, the little dude enters the room and announces triumphantly “Daddy put me in da window!”

Hard Days with Little Kids: 11 Things I’m Trying to Remember – Sacraparental

http://sacraparental.com/2015/03/30/hard-days-with-little-kids-11-things-im-trying-to-remember/

I read this last year when it was published and came back to it tonight ’cause it was a hard day. Just in a normal way with a toddler and a baby. Mr Daddy was back at the office Monday and Tuesday (crèche days) but home today, but the whole family now has a slight cold. Little dude was rough with his baby brother several times and many toys were thrown, and he pulled my hair a couple of times, etc, normal “terrible two” stuff. At one point I sent him to his room for time out and when I asked if he was ready to come out and be a gentle big brother he said “stay in dtime out”. I’m thinking I might change how I present time out, make it more neutral. For the next while I’m going to try and say “I think you might need some quiet play by yourself to calm down” – let  him know that if he wants to initiate quiet play to manage his feelings of frustration, that’s good too. Steer it away from punishment and towards strategy for emotional calibration.