Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutions


Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutions!

This is the first monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month we're writing about how we want to parent differently — or the same — in the New Year. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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winter road


I've gotten a lot of comments from people who don't do resolutions but who wanted to participate in the blog carnival. If you need someone to blame for choosing that theme, I'm your target, because it just seemed so January-approriate that I couldn't resist.

I'm of two minds about resolutions. On the one hand, they used to be an important yearly ritual for me. On the other hand, I never actually lived up to them. This year I (mostly) let them go and haven't yet missed them.

That said, I think you can have the spirit of New Year's resolutions without making a list of very specific and very unattainable goals. There are times when I need to stop, look back at what I've done or what I am currently doing, think about what I wish I were doing now or look forward to what I hope to be doing in the future, and then make some choices and some plans. That sort of life evaluation doesn't have to come on January 1, but it's a handy reference point in our Gregorian world.

So, here begins my reflecting.

Last year my resolutions were as follows:


Let's just get those first and third points out of the way right here with a big hearty chuckle so we can move on. I honestly wasn't even going to bring up that third one but thought someone might call me on it at some point, so I'll admit here and now that I did absolutely nothing to achieve that goal. And, I don't care.

The first one was just wistful musing, the sort of optimism that comes over you in late December when you're considering the approach of January 1 but still enjoying the excesses of the holidays, that crystal-clear uplift of "Yes, I will stop eating sugar tomorrow!" as you stuff another chocolate truffle in your mouth.

But the middle one still stands. The idea of "taking responsibility" actually sounds really grim, but I didn't mean it so. I meant that I had control over what I got done, and that if I didn't accomplish something I could have worked on (like doing the splits!), that was my choice and not someone else's fault.

"In the past, I've excused myself from doing something I want to because no one else was doing it, or I've blamed someone else's lack of participation on why I couldn't follow through.
"... There have been parenting ideas and ideals that I've had that I've been half-hearted about. I haven't talked about it much, but I have a goal to raise Mikko bilingual in English and German (along with the sign language!). Since Sam speaks kein Wort Deutsch, he's understandably not been able to support me in that vision. I've let that corrode my own ambition to follow through, but that's my problem, and only I can resolve it."

As I mentioned, I didn't make New Year's resolutions this year. And somehow, in my mind, the only resolutions from last year that I remembered were the ones I didn't do, like the being perfect part (no junk food, keeping the place spic and span, maintaining an even keel emotionally, etc.) and the still-no-splits thing. What a trip, then, to look honestly and see that I actually did a pretty good job at the most important of all the resolutions — the one about taking responsibility.

Not that you care about the splits thing, but I am closer to doing the splits this year than last. My right forward split is relatively close to the ground. Bear with me as I explain the relevance to something more important. I took no specific time outside of ballet class to work on my splits, but I did go to class most every week, and we stretched in almost every class. Turns out, the more you practice something, the better you get at it. Yes, my very own oh-duh moment.

It doesn't matter if you don't practice it as frequently as you'd hoped. It doesn't matter if you've not yet achieved perfection. You can still look back at where you were and look at where you are now and see your progress.

In terms of parenting resolutions, this is where I am, not perfect but somewhere better along the journey.

     • Take my example from last year where I was bemoaning the fact that I was not speaking enough German with Mikko. This is an ever-present temptation for me, to wimp out and speak (my native) English, but I can see that I speak much more German with him now than last year. He's been enrolled in his German preschool, and he answered me correctly when I asked him what color the number forty-four bus was, even though I don't remember having counted up to forty-four with him in German and we weren't in eyesight of the bus in question. I'm even composing some bilingual songs so that I'll have more of a repertoire to sing! (Yes, one's about riding the forty-four bus!)

     • Doing more sign language with him is another one — he's a signing whiz now. I actually recently had a resolution, not tied to New Year's in particular, to continue signing with him now that he's becoming so verbal at two and a half. I'd like for him to retain all of this knowledge he's worked so hard to build, and perhaps let it blossom into full-fledged ASL learning.

     • Another example of taking responsibility I'm pleased with is that, instead of just whining about how I don't have a tribe around me, I've actually taken a couple steps to create a community for us. Our first babysitting co-op meeting is upon us, and aside from that, our little threesome has made some new, Mikko-friendly contacts with both families and non-parents. (Don't worry — I won't let that stop me from whining. It's too much fun.)

     • I've also been thinking again (constantly) about the idea of taking responsibility for my emotions. Having a toddler pushes me over the edge more times than I care to admit. Sometimes I take this out on Mikko, sometimes on Sam, sometimes on the cat, sometimes on inanimate objects. I would like to not take it out at all, if possible. I don't mean that in some unhealthy, holding-it-in sort of way. I mean, seriously, I would like to stop being so darn angry. To just chill, to let things be. No one else can do this for me, so I'm going to have to try.

     • Along the same lines, I need to stop swearing already. It might seem from that last paragraph with my quaint "darn" that I'm an aw-shucks, gee-whilikers kind of girl. Sadly, I could teach a sailor a thing or two. And I have taught Mikko some interesting terms. Whoops. I don't actually care if he grows up to swear; I feel like that's his choice. It's too long a tangent to include in this paragraph, but I was brought up to believe swearing was one of the worst things ever, and I really think it was an unhealthy fixation and something that distanced me from people. I wouldn't even read swear words in my head, and I judged anyone who used them, thereby missing the point of what they were saying. I had to grow up and out of that to let those words lose their power over me. That said, having my two-year-old swear at my mother when she visits this month: not cool. So I'm going to try to curb my tongue until Mikko's old enough to understand swearing, if that makes sense.

     • My last resolution is half-practical and half-mental. Sam and I have been trading off childcare duties. And when I say "trading off," I mean mostly Sam's been taking Mikko so I could write.

But it's time for me to step up to the plate and really give this trading-off thing a go. When it's my turn, I need to seize it, take Mikko elsewhere if Sam needs his space, and just enjoy the time I have with my son. It's hard for me, I won't deny it. Playing trains with a toddler for hours is akin to sitting in a doctor's waiting room, only without a magazine to distract me. Here's how Mikko plays trains: "Hello, Thomas. How you? Hello, Puwsy [my take on his pronunciation of Percy]. How you? Go store?" Then they drive to the store (Mikko's leg), and I ask what they will buy. Every time, they buy monkeys and bananas. "Hello, Thomas. How you?" he says when they bring back their loot to the other trains. "Ride back?" Which, to the uninitiated, means one wants to ride on the other's back, as in, be hooked up like a train and tool around for a bit. Repeat. Same script every time. It's charming the first five times, death by Thomas the Tank Engine the next fifty. If I show a break in concentration, say to scratch my nose, he grabs my hand and pulls it back to a train. "No!" he reprimands. "Play choo-choo tracks!" (For some reason, this is what he calls "trains" now.)

So it's dull, and cute, and boring, and adorable, and I want to focus on the good and let the bad just not bother me so much. There'll be time enough to work on posts and goof around on Twitter and run the laundry and write thank-you notes. I'm going to try to turn off my brain more often; acknowledge that playing, as shown in Playful Parenting, is how our children communicate with us, how they work through their own emotions and experiences, and how we show our love to them by speaking their language; and enter into the spirit of being a mother to a two-year-old.

Because, you know, it strikes me even now: He'll be turning three this year, so it doesn't last forever.

I've been thinking a lot recently about whether I'm a failure as a mother. I look at pictures of Mikko smiling and wonder if he's smiling because we told him to, or because it's a natural reflex for unjaded children to smile, or if it's because he's truthfully happy. If he could remember his toddler years, would he look back on this time with affection, or would he point out everything I've done wrong?

That was kind of a downer thought when I had it, but it served as a wake-up call. January or not, there are things in my parenting and my life that I need to change, and if not now, when? I realize that I can't make Mikko happy (since he's in control of his own emotions), but I can make the choices in my own parenting that are most likely to lead to his happiness.

Like playing choo-choo tracks. "Hello, Topham Hat!"

What are your parenting resolutions this year? If you don't believe in resolutions, in what way are you still looking back and looking forward and reevaluating?

Photo courtesy Mateusz Stachowski on stock.xchng



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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by noon EST Jan. 12 with all the carnival links. All the links below will be active by then.)

•  To Yell or Not to Yell — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl wants to stop yelling. You can find Lactating Girl on Twitter at @LactatingGirl.

•  It Is All About Empathy: Nurturing a Toddler's Compassion Potential — Paige at Baby Dust Diaries gives us a comprehensive post on how to help our children develop empathy. You can find Paige on Twitter at @babydust.

• To my babies: this year… — Alison at BluebirdMama has written a letter of resolutions to her children. You can find Alison on Twitter at @Childbearing.

• Mindfully Loving My Children — Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! has found that determining her children's love language is helping guide her in parenting compassionately. You can find Melodie on Twitter at @bfmom.

• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Resolutions — Dionna at Code Name: Mama resolves (among other things) not to freak out if her toddler isn't sporting Thomas undies in 2010. You can find Dionna on Twitter at @CodeNameMama.

• Imperfect Mother — Sarah at Consider Eden looks back at the goals she had for herself last year to see how close she came to her ideal — and finds some unexpected accomplishments as well. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @ConsiderEden.

• Resolutions — Craphead (aka Mommy) will work on emptying her grumpy battery more often in 2010. You can find Craphead (aka Mommy) on Twitter at @ahippygirl.

• FC Mom's Parenting Resolutions 2010 — Kristine at FC Mom is arguably the most ambitious among our group – she has resolutions in just about every area of her life! You can find Kristine on Twitter at @TheFCMom.

• What’s in a Resolution? — Chrystal at Happy Mothering is due soon with baby girl #2! Chrystal resolves to be as fully present for two daughters as she was when she had only one. You can find Chrystal on Twitter at @HappyMothering.

• January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting resolutions — Lauren at Hobo Mama is surprised she didn't do everything wrong last year. You can find Lauren on Twitter at @Hobo_Mama.

• Natural Parenting Resolutions — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog has found a simple way to take a break before reacting emotionally to a tense situation. You can find Mrs. Green on Twitter at @myzerowaste.

• This year, I will mostly... — Ruth at Look Left of the Pleiades reminds us that small changes can help overcome big struggles. You can find Ruth on Twitter at @brightravenmum.

• Parenting Resolutions — Darcel at The Mahogany Way resolves to enjoy the journey. You can find Darcel on Twitter at @MahoganyWayMama

• I Resolve to Breastfeed In Public More Often — Summer of mama2mama tips resolves to breastfeed in public to help make breastfeeding normal. You can find Summer on Twitter at @mama2mamatips.

• Moving to Two Kids — Megna at Megna the Destroyer is expecting baby #2 any day! Megna has been reading Siblings Without Rivalry for some advice on how to navigate being the mother of two children.

• Use Love — Kate at Momopoly resolves to “use love” in her relationship with her toddler. You can find Kate on Twitter at @Momopoly.

• My parenting resolutions — Mamamilkers at Musings of a Milk Maker has found a parenting class and a counselor to help her five-year-old work through her anxiety issues. You can find Mamamilkers on Twitter at @mamamilkers.

• Talkin' 'bout My Resolutions — NavelgazingBajan at Navelgazing is committing herself in public to cloth diapering, baby signs, bedtimes, and book reading.

• Parenting Resolutions — Sarah at One Starry Night is helping her older son heal from time away from her and keeping her newest addition happy while recovering from a challenging pregnancy and birth. You can find Sarah on Twitter at @starrymom.

• Invitations, not resolutions — Arwyn at Raising My Boychick doesn't have resolutions, but she invites and intends. You can find Arwyn on Twitter at @RaisingBoychick.

• No more multitasking during kid time — Jen at The Recovering Procrastinator will work on consistency and focusing on one thing at a time. You can find Jen on Twitter at @jenwestpfahl.

• I need to slow down, smell those roses AND the poopy diapers — Joni Rae at Tales of a Kitchen Witch Momma wants to slow down to smell the roses and the poopy diapers. You can find Joni Rae on Twitter at @kitchenwitch.

• Resolutely Parenting in 2010 — Jessica at This Is Worthwhile would like an early warning system for “Mommy Meltdown.” You can find Jessica on Twitter at @tisworthwhile.


24 comments:

Rae said...

My goodness; this carnival is HUGE! It's a party over here LOL!

Thanks so much for all your time and energy in putting this together and pulling it off beautifully. I'm going to enjoy reading all the entries.

Good luck to all you wonderful people with your goals for 2010; it's great to be surrounded by parents who are conscious of the way the live their lives.

Warm wishes
Rae aka Mrs Green @littlegreenblog.com

cypress sun said...

wow! what a carnival! i hope to take it all in this week. thanks for sharing your parenting thoughts/fears. i think we all have times where it seems like the unknown/negative is growing into mountainous proportions. it's a good time to let it all go.

i guess my approach to resolutions is to reframe my perspective. my chosen word is grace. not something i come by easily!

Paige said...

Thanks so much for all your hard work for the carnival! I'm only 1/2 through the list and I've been inspired and met new friends!

I also need to stop swearing. I thought it would come naturally when I got pregnant...then when she was born...then when she started crawling...
I'm so terrified to be the mom that doesn't stop until her daughter says "$@#%! lol.

Looking forward to following you in 2010! :)

Kate Wicker @ Momopoly said...

Thanks for pulling off such a great carnival and for hosting. What a wonderful roundup of posts. Blessings!

mamaloo said...

I wrote about looking towards a few experts as I learn how to parent better: Calling In Help http://momcast.blogspot.com/2010/01/calling-in-help.html

geeksinrome said...

This is excellent! I can't wait to start going through the links.

I resolve to... read thru the links!

I didn't think of setting any parenting goals. But reading this I think I should try one which is try to get them out more on weekends.

My son isn't lazy he is just very creative and prefers the quiet of home to invent and play out his grand scenarios. OTOH my daughter would go outside in a flash.

The weather has stunk of late so I haven't had any desire to venture out. But they're at an age where they would appreciate and benefit from some adventure: the interactive museum, a science museum, natural history museum...

Rome doesn't have too many kid-friendly things, but there are a lot of cas roaming the Colosseum that need petting...

Betsy B. Honest said...

Hmmm you've been busy! What a great response, can't wait to read through then all.

Also, glad to hear someone else gets bored playing with their toddler and feels somewhat guilty about it. It's the repetitiveness that gets ya. Sometimes I catch myself stopping myself from being fun just so I can avoid the dreaded word..."again!"

Cave Mother said...

Well done you for starting a carnival.

My resolution this year is to be more present with my daughter. This will mean doing fewer non-mummy things, like writing and reading blogs, but I figure that I only get the chance to be her mum once so I'd better make the most of it.

So if I'm around here less often - that's why!

Darcel said...

First THANK YOU for putting this carnival together!

I have a feeling I will do tons of crying today. A combination of pregnancy hormones, and I just love reading about mothers and children.

I struggle quite a bit with being perfect. I've been that way most of my life. So I totally feel ya on that one!

How cute is it the way Mikko plays with his trains!
It is hard for us to play with our children. Probably because we were always taught that we needed to grow up and act our age. I would like to be done with acting ALL THE TIME. It's fun to act like a kid. My husband is a big one, and he says so.

I laughed when you said he sweared at your mother. It probably shouldn't be funny when toddlers do that, but I can't help but laugh every time.

Awesome post! I really enjoyed reading it.

Dionna said...

The train play recounting had me giggling - we are the same way here. Kieran is always "puh-cy" and I am always "tom-us" and we always stop for gas "gug! gug! gug!" and somehow a dinosaur ends up blocking the tracks "rawr! hello dinosaur!" etc, etc.
Sooooooooooo fun.
Also,taking responsibility for emottions is something I wish I and my hubby could improve. I'm doing better - I'm an adult and as much as it sucks sometimes to swallow a nasty comment or angry retort, I do it, because, when are those things ever helpful?
Now if only I could get Tom on the same page . . .

~Dionna
http://codenamemama.com

(weird! where did your name/url option go? wasn't it here the last time I commented?)

navelgazingbajan said...

I was thinking the other day that there's a good chance my son's first word will begin with an "f" or an "s" if I don't watch my swearing. I also don't care if he does it as an adult but it's not cute when kids do it...at least not cute to me. My husband and I have a running joke about the types of calls we might get once our son starts school.

Btw, my site was experiencing technical difficulties but they are now resolved. Glad to be a part of this.

Melodie said...

Your comments about swearing made me laugh out loud. When I was a kid, in grade six in fact, I clearly remember solemnly swearing to myself and my friends that I would never ever swear! I thought it was the worst thing a person could ever do! I used to get mad at my uncle for using the word "hassle" as I was certain it was a swear word. He used to bug me about it so much!

Kimberly@PrettyPinkMomma said...

Swearing is a good one for me too. I can't help it - it makes me feel better sometimes to swear, especially when something goes wrong or when I'm driving. Thankfully my boys don't repeat it, well maybe once or twice, but thats not that bad considering how much they hear it in passing conversation.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

kitchenwitch said...

Great post!
PS I swear like a sailor. Or a cranky old man. Its bad. I have such potty mouth!

BluebirdMama said...

Swearing was a hard one for me but I have mostly kicked it.

But you know, the play thing - I often feel ashamed to say that it is kind of boring. I love my kids to death and it often is the most fun ever...but the play, like you've recounted, argh. And yet, I'm often left feeling like other moms LOVE it, can't get enough of it. How lovely to know I'm not alone...but you're right, I should try harder.

I'm sure your baby is really happy for real. You're probably not doing a perfect job (because no one is) but the fact that you think about it, blog about it, read about it, talk about it, put it all into practice as much as you can, shows that you are obviously giving parenting your best shot. What more could your baby want from you?

Ruth Moss said...

Firstly thanks so much to you and Codename: Mama for putting together this amazing carnival. :-)

Secondly - oh god, swearing - I am one of Britain's Best Swearers with a mouth like a Docker. I actually knew this might be a problem so I stopped from the time Bertie was about three months old to give me chance to actually tone down my language! I also have alternatives: "horlicks" for "bollocks" and so on. Which sometimes, I forget, and use in adult company. Before I had Bertie I used to know quite a few adults who said "fudging hell" and the like. I wondered why. Now I know.

Melissa said...

Thanks for taking the time to coordinate all of this. I'm going to keep watch for the next installment- maybe I'll have something to share. I'm excited to go through these links and see what others have came up with. I did a post with a blurb on how I would like to be a more mindful mother in 2010, although the post wasn't specific to just a parenting topic...
http://oursuburbanhomestead.blogspot.com/2010/01/2010-word-of-year.html

It sounds like we have similarities in wanting to strive to be more present with our kids.

Stacy (Mama-Om) said...

Wow! Thanks for your comment so I could come visit your site (again). Now I've got you in my reader.

I had a great big laugh about your three resolutions. I'm giving up being perfect, too!

Best,
Stacy

mamamilkers said...

What? You're not perfect? Pssssh.

FWIW I hate playing the pretend games with my girls, too. Soooo thankful that I have two kids two like to play the same stuff. If they want me to "play" I usually sit there and organize toys or something.

Great resolutions! Thank you for putting this all together!

Lisa - edenwild said...

Wow, you got a lot of participation in your carnival, nice!

"It doesn't matter if you've not yet achieved perfection."--Words of wisdom. That's how I feel. Sometimes you've got to seize the moment (like if you've been wanting to take a class), but when it comes to "self-improvement" or other long term goals, you have to remember that it's a process.

The splits resolution made me laugh, but only because I had that on my list a few times, but I gave it up many, MANY years ago!

Jessica said...

That's so funny ("death by Thomas the Train") - and here I sit in San Francisco watching a DVR'd Oprah, catching up on blogs, and listening to Hollis prattle away from his crib in the other room. My point is that I should really go play with him for another hour or so until his nap time because I can (and should) and doing two-year-old activities isn't the end of the world.

And on that note, I think I'll go do just that.

(By the way, I swear you and I are like *this* on so many issues...)

FC Mom said...

So I'm not the only one who almost falls asleep playing Thomas the Boring Tank Engine! I remember times with my nephew feeling like I was going to vomit, I was so bored. I guess I could have tried to engage him some other way, but... when you are tired, it's pretty tough.
That's the other thing about all of our resolutions. We should all probably be resolving to get more sleep so we can have the energy to follow through!

I like the taking responsibility for emotions thing. I've been feeling down the past few days about going back to work- actually, I'm excited about work, because I like teaching- but leaving my little boy is so, so depressing. I've been snapping at my husband and that's not right. I'll work on that today... sigh... starting now.

Hobo Mama said...

Thanks, everyone, for reading the carnival, and many thanks to the fabulous bloggers who participated! It was definitely a party. I was so encouraged and thrilled when so many amazing posts started rolling in, and I've been inspired by them all. It's reminded me of resolutions I didn't know I had!

I am so glad so many of you also get bored playing and have potty mouths! It makes me feel like not such a bad mother. Yea for togetherness!

mamaloo: I finally read your article — http://momcast.blogspot.com/2010/01/calling-in-help.html — I forgot you'd posted the link here. I'm so glad you joined in.

cypress sun: Grace. Yes. Permission to start over, again. Which I need, all the time.

geeksinrome: I remember reading a photo book about free-roaming cats in Italy. Give them some love for us, and hope you brave the weather to get out. I am frozen as I write this, because we spent all day outside. That's the downside of being ambitious...

dionna: I changed the settings not to allow anonymous commenters (as in, you have to log in to some sort of account) because I was getting mucho spam. I'm still debating this, so anyone can let me know if it's bothering them.

melodie: Yea! Someone else who was as much of a goody-two-shoes as I was! :) My mom had a guy friend of mine in junior high convinced that "gurney" was a bad word, just to mess with him.

ruth moss: "Horlicks" sounds just as hilariously rude to me. :) I was thinking about making my own alterna-swears but haven't gotten around to it yet. I do say "monkey" a lot as a fake swear. Also "monkey doots." Or if I start saying The Bad Word, I'll turn it to "frack." But with Mikko's substandard pronunciation, I don't really want him repeating even "frack." As it is, "smoke" and "quack" sound just as naughty.

melissa: I'm enjoying your blog, too! I love your idea of having a word of the year, and you picked a great one! http://oursuburbanhomestead.blogspot.com/2010/01/2010-word-of-year.html

mamamilkers: Oh, THAT's why I'm supposed to have another kid! Maybe I'll just go borrow one for now.

lisa: I wasn't even going to make a resolution to do the splits, but my friends goaded me into it!

jessica: Agreed!

fc mom: I have literally started banging my head against the wall while playing, and other times I've literally fallen asleep. From boredom. I'm sorry you're feeling conflicted about returning to work; I can totally understand that, even though you like the work. I feel that way about putting my kid in preschool twice a week, and even letting him go out with my husband for whole days at a time. It's so good for me and my writing, but I hope it's ok for him, too!

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