I was thinking today about how many opinions I had about mothering before I was one....how those opinions got much more laid back after one child, and how few opinions I have about it now!
My mother always has told me that my sister and I were opposites even in the womb. C was still and quiet, and I was a ball of kicks and turns...and we are still that way...C is shy, serious and reserved, and only those who truly get to know her have the opportunity to find out how funny she is. I have never met a stranger and wear my heart on my sleeve for all to love and anyone to break.
My children are also very different. Boy was and is such a ornery and strong willed child. He was a colicky baby and has always been so intense and smart. Of course, we think he hung the moon and no one had better tell us "he should be sleeping through the night" and "let him cry it out"...We just did what felt right and let him take his time. He is a Mama's boy. He wants Mama in the room with him all the time. He likes to be right up next to me and says "Maaamaaa", in the sweetest most loving way. He usually follows directions but rarely when first instructed. His tantrums are awful...the kind where the kid is loud and kicks and screams and throws himself on the floor. He sleeps hard and is always up at the crack of the dawn and is ready to play play play. He is a full energy, bumped,bruised, boy's boy. He loves trucks and cowboys and dogs.
Bluebird is such a tender girl. She says very few words (even at 15 months) but she makes the sweetest sounds. When her feelings are hurt or she gets told no, she never screams or throws things...she very gently lays on the floor and puts her forehead on the ground and does the sweetest little sob (the kind where the air gets caught in her throat)...She is a quiet and happy child. So content just to sit by your side and sing. She loves to clap her hands and say "lalalala". She is actually more of a ball player than her brother, and she likes to raise her hands and say "goal" and then laugh so hard she topples over. She is more like Mama, and likes to sleep in and take morning naps.
Bluebird gets to learn from watching Boy...she watches closely as we scold him. She will put her head down and stand clear, peeking up through her lashes until all is peaceful again. Today, I actually had to "count her" and she had to "take 5"...Boy looked on with his mouth agape...he is so used to be the one getting the scoldings.
As different as they are, they love each other so much. He kisses her and they are just old enough to really start playing. He says "come on Bluebird". He likes to chase her and she loves being chased. She laughs and he laughs and the house is full of joy.
What must a first child go through...certainly being able to sense their parents insecurities...Bluebird has never had us overly obsess about her in the way we have done with Boy.
If Bluebird had been born first, I am sure I would wonder why Boy was allowed to scream through the grocery store (and would have certainly thought I was a better parent than his must be)...
He has been our first everything. The first time we felt the way your heart grows the first time you hear your child cry, the first sleepless night, the first foods, the first fall, the first tantrum, the first the first the first...we only let him wear cloth diapers and he nursed until he was two years old.
Bluebird, well, she gets to start with experienced parents who don't sweat the small stuff. The ones who pause after a fall to see if she remains calm before we rush to her in a state of panic. She wears target brand diapers and her baby book lays on the kitchen table in hopes of trying to recall which tooth was first and what her first solid food was.
I try really hard to do everything in moderation, but it isn't always easy. Sometimes I feel like screaming...sometimes I think I have it under control, other times I just hand over my cell phone and let her do with it what she wants...
The truth is...parenting is hard and all kids are different and require different things..and you just gotta roll with the punches. The most troubling part of it all is that somehow in the end, when they tell their story, the parent will either be their reason for success, or their reason for failure, and by then...it is too late to change things. Too involved or not involved enough. Pushed them too much, or didn't push them enough. Worked too much, or didn't work at all. Fed them too much or too little, or not organic enough or too much candy or too little candy. Tried too hard to be their friend, or wasn't a friend at all.
I have learned as I watch the many mothers in my life, friends and family alike, that there is no "right way" to parent...we are all so different. Disney world every weekend, or no Disney at all...vegetarian or hotdogs and Happy Meals...the one thing they all have in common is that they love their children with all of their hearts even in the midst of the child's most miserable tantrum. I try to take bits and pieces from each of those wonderful mothers, and create a mothering style that suits our family best.
I have certainly become much more forgiving. If I see a screaming child and horrified parent, I smile (and am just grateful that it isn't one of mine)...I try not to give her a look of disdain or an opinion on how she should handle it...
The best you can do is love them...with all of your being, and make sure that they know it every day. Hopefully, the rest will fall into place....right?