November 22, 2003

taking care of ourselves

I was struck by a recent entry in Tiny Coconut. She talks about parenting models: Attachment Parenting and Taking Children Seriously and others, how she sees value in bits of each but each parenting modality demands too much that doesn't fit her as a mom.

I know exactly what she means. Though I chose to label myself an attachment parent, it was more in overall philosophy and approach than in the exact parameters. For instance, I couldn't tolerate co-sleeping for more than a month or so. Damian was a wiggler and I was up all night. So many childrearing philosophies seem to say it's all or nothing and that you must subsume your own needs for your child's. The problem with this, as TC points out, is that it sends your children a problematic message. She thinks about what she hopes for her daughter as she grows:

And I realize--and this is where the light comes on for me--that I don't want to raise her to be someone who feels compelled to subjugate all or even most of what she is as an individual for her own children.

I like her solution:

I guess what it all comes down to is that I want my children to see me care about and for me, because I want them to do the same for themselves when they are adults. I also want them to see me care about and for them and Baroy and friends and family and sometimes strangers in need, because I want them to do the same for others when they are adults. And so, lately, I've been making parenting decisions through that prism. Makes it much easier to sort things into column a and column b, to pick and choose from the parenting philosophies that call to me, and yet discard that which seems to be contrary to my goals.

I think this is an admirable approach. I've been doing the same, or trying to. It's difficult at times, balancing his needs and my own. This is why I haven't wanted a second child, not because I lack the desire but because I know I wouldn't be a good parent anymore, that two children (and at least one with more needs than your average kid) would turn that teetering, tentative balance into a permanent imbalance. As it is, sometimes I think I don't have enough of myself to give Damian. But when I can give enough to myself -- writing time, exercise time, friendship time -- I become a happier and therefore better parent. I'm more present and involved with him, not just going through the motions. And it's true, I am also showing him by my example that these things are important. Work you love, taking care of yourself, people in your life. The choices I make in my daily life affect how he grows almost as much as what I teach him through direct interaction.

Food for thought.

Posted by Tamar at November 22, 2003 09:43 PM