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Friday, April 4, 2008

Ideals versus Reality

As a fairly new parent, I am still coming up against every parent's daily struggle of ideals versus reality. The first source of ideals comes from parenting books and magazines. There are enough ideals stuffed into such sources to make any mother feel as if their child will grow up to be a mass murderer because they weren't read to in utero and had at least 3 hours of concentrated play-time and parental interaction. Thankfully, I learned to ignore those sources early on; I had enough guilt without needing a well-designed layout to increase it.

However, the second source of ideals is harder to ignore: the ones we create ourselves. Those ideals we hold because we think that they are an intrinsically good idea or principle, not just because a slick magazine layout told us they were so.

The first ideal that got discarded was 'I'll never yell at my darling child;' it lasted about 3 weeks until Kathleen wouldn't stop crying in the middle of the night and all I wanted was sleep. Somehow children should know to stop crying when you yell instead of simply crying more. And ever since, they've been dropping by the wayside.

Ideal: My child will always eat healthy food and no desserts. Reality: Macaroni and cheese is perfectly nutritious, and cheerios are a great distraction
Ideal: My child will never eat treats in church. Reality: At the height of snack-dom we had three different types of treats (cheese, cheerios and cocoa crunchies).
Ideal: I will enrich my child's mind with daily activities and reading. Reality: Daily activities definitely include sitting on my lap while I surf the internet. And Noisy Nora can certainly enrich any child's mind.

With the coming of Kathleen's 18-month birthday, another ideal bit the dust. Despite being perfectly happy with her first week of nursery, Kathleen was not nearly as happy with her second and third weeks. I have never heard a child scream the way she did while being left in nursery. So, despite my resolution never to sit with my child in nursery, that's exactly what Brandon and and I have been doing for the last three weeks in church. On his week, Brandon got to enjoy a full two hours of play time, snack, lesson, and coloring. We'll have her trained just in time for Sophia to arrive and start disrupting the peace again.


The Reese's said...

Nathan had macaroni and cheese (Easy Mac, no less) for dinner last night, followed by Noisy Nora for our bedtime book. And we always have at least two types of snacks and a sippy cup of water for church. Let's hear it for the Henderson daughters!

The Olsen's said...

The key to happiness is low expectations...I wish they would let them go to nursey at 14 months. I think they would be so much happier at that age...

Ashlie said...

Wow. What things I have to look forward to, LOL!

Laura said...

Hahahaha! I liked this post. Ben's always getting after me to keep my expectations low. It's that whole Henderson perfectionist thing, I guess. . .