Friday, October 01, 2010

Parenting Posts: Lessons from Further Along the Learning Curve

The last couple of weeks have caused me to think about certain things about parenting an infant. Most of these thoughts are unrelated:

Fantasy Island

Both Jennifer and I feel a little isolated where we live. We are so far from our family members in California, Texas, Oregon, and Michigan. Sometimes this is a blessing. Sometimes it is a curse. Fowler is also a well-established small town. Which means in some ways it is hard to "break-into", so we feel isolated in that way as well. However, we have found some supportive friends here, and our family has visited extensively since around Thanksgiving of last year.

One of the things I have learned as family come in from out of town and friends visit from both in-state and in-town is that most people come to visit to realize a fantasy of child care. At first this was hard for me to understand, because I have no fantasies about caring for an infant. However, I am noticing many people do. They come to our home to create or recreate a maternal fantasy island.

(If you are one of these people, don't feel bad. I am not mocking you or upset. I am just pleased with myself for making this observation and had to share.)

You may ask, "Clint, what are these maternal fantasies?"

There are all sorts of dreams women try to fulfill with the baby. For instance, one family member insisted in holding our child's mouth as close to her breast as possible, and pull her in so it looked like she was breast feeding the baby. Almost every woman has the hope that the baby will fall asleep in their arms and Karis and the visitor can take a nap together. Almost always, Karis obliges. Some people come with plans to take Karis for a walk. Others to change her. A few others choose to stand, throw her over their shoulder, and rock their bodies back and forth as they hold her. Some almost always put socks on our baby. Part of Jennifer's fantasy is to do as much to raise a barefoot, flower-girl like her as possible. Almost all women and some men who come to visit have been fantasizing for weeks or months on what their time with Bably Karis is going to be like, and they do everything they can to make their dreams come true.

Problem Solving.

I know I will sound to much like a guy with this, but one of the things that is most frustrating, but also most enjoyable about being the parent of an infant is the opportunity to problem solve.

For instance, our daughter has been ill off and on this week. At one point she was not sleeping. Then, I had an insight. Would I, if I was suffering with the flu, want to rock back and forth in a swing that was larger than I was? My answer was that I would not. I put her in her bouncer for 5 minutes and she was sawing logs. I enjoyed solving that problem. I felt pretty smart.

Opportunities come like this all the time. In many ways I am able to test out a few theories here and there about how Karis works. I test my theories about my baby, and then I learn more about her. I enjoy that.

Modesty and Child Care

As I have mentioned, Karis was ill this week. After that, our day care worker was ill. Thus, I spent three days with her at home alone for the whole day. Jennifer also had some early appointments on some of those days, which meant that I really could not shower before she left.

As a new parent, I have found that I can go many days without a shower while watching Karis. However, the lack of showing makes me a little stinky, and I feel like I am not being professional enough since I am also working at home.

My wife told me several times that I could take the baby into the bathroom while I shower. I felt uncomfortable about this for months. I don't want my child to see me naked. I don't really want anyone to see me naked. I try to cover myself infront of household pets for goodness sake, much less infants.

This week I desprately needed a shower. I took the baby into the bathroom, but I found a creative solution to my issues. There is a little chunk of space behind the shower that is generally empty. I placed her in this spot, facing the wall, so that she could not see me without my clothes off. She fussed a little bit, but I believe a little fussiness is better than our child being scarred with subconscious memories of her naked father standing over her.

Does anyone else feel need to be modest around their babies or pets?
Will anyone admit to their fantasy island visits with little babies?
Does anyone else enjoy the problem solving part of parenting?
Let me know, I would love to hear!


SWG said...

Enjoy the problem solving while it lasts. When she's 12 going on 30 you become a complete idiot and are incapable of solving any of her problems. :D

Anonymous said...

Fantasy? What fantasy? I am a 50 year old woman who wants grand children more than air. I have 6 kids under the age of 5 spending 55 hours a week at my house. I turned my fantasy into reality. I am a genius. Annette

lailani said...

Hmmm, as a mom the modesty thing wasn't there until they were about 2. But that was really funny to read because I have a memory of coming out of my bedroom when I was about 5, heading to the bathroom and stopped cold in my tracks - my dad had just gotten out of the shower, he did not see me, as I quickly darted back to my bedroom deciding I could wait til morning. lol!

Not really having any maternal fantasies about babies - well there is a cutie at church that I would like to hold -but he is the age that he can stand and bounce on ones lap and sit up. Otherwise, no. But maybe as I age and the prospect of grandchildren comes around, who knows.

Problem solving, it does feel good, but you will have to add some psychology to it when she is older - so she doesn't know you are helping her solve problems.

Wow, parenting changes us so so much, and much of it many of us don't really realize until we look back.