Learning Lessons for Mom & DadPosted: Updated:
As much as this experience has been about Macy starting school, it has also been about mom and dad facing our first big parenting challenge. If we were getting a grade for this I would assign us an "E" for effort. What can I say, we're rookies but I hope we made more good choices than faux pas.
My parents pretty much subscribed to the "just do it because I said so" philosophy and Mike said his parent's approach was to just not go crazy chasing around four kids every day. We've figured out a little bit about our parenting style through this and that's a good thing. We want to treat her concerns with respect and to have her buy-in to the solution but to balance that with the fact that we're the parents and sometimes she gets to do things she doesn't want to-it's the way of the world. Ha.
There have been a few learning lessons for us already:
- 1. Acknowledging her feelings without trying to "categorize" them into a nice tidy box where we then apply a solution we read about or heard about. We kept it real-for her and for us. It was much easier to give her that freedom each day than it was to give it to myself. Going with the emotions from day to day has been tougher for us "grown ups" because we feel like we should fix it. This is our "baby girl" and we want her to be happy and comfortable so when the tears come it's really tough to just go with it.
- 2. Taking the time. This is twofold: Taking the time to hear her out when she's feeling unsure or sad. It sounds so simple but when we're on our way to daycare and one minute she seems fine and the next there's waterworks, it can feel stressful to just stop and listen-to give up the dream of getting to work on time and to prioritize without guilt. We tried tough love and it created these big meltdowns which ended up prolonging the situations. I'm not a parental expert (as is evidenced by my blunders) but maybe because she's a rational thinker, even at 5, that we found out when we talk it out and she knows she's been heard we're having much greater success. We're so lucky we have jobs where our bosses have given us generous leeway during this time!
The other way it's been important to take time is to let the situation unfold organically. Again, as parents we feel like it's our job to "make it better" and that's such an overwhelming feeling when your sweet little five-year-old is looking at you with tears in her eyes. It's like a punch to the gut. But by acknowledging that this challenge is based in emotion (in how she feels about her new routine and about making new friends) it's easier to remember it's going to take time.
- 3. Talking it out. Mike and I have been talking to one another for ideas, for support on the bad days and to celebrate the good days (only your spouse understands when you call and say "she was excited to get to school today"). We're also continuing to keep the lines of communication open with Macy but to not over-talk it. Hopefully we're finding the right balance! We've also talked to friends and some of you too (which is unlike me in SOO many ways). I'm not much of a "sharer" on personal topics but reaching out has been a good sanity check for us. In fact, some very wise fellow parents have provided great perspective.
- 4. It's OK that our experience wasn't all perfection and sweet smiles. Since Macy is our only child we had some general ideas about what it would be like when she started school and even anticipating that we "might" have a few challenges we never thought it would be such a dozy! We've had a few times when we beat ourselves up about not understanding the potential to unfold like this. But we get to give ourselves a free pass because this is just one of many along the way.
There have been days when I felt like we were failing miserably and some when I thought we finally found the key to success, but the reality is that every day just "is what it is" and the key to keep our eye on the long-term goals. We're hoping we learned a few valuable lessons and worst-case scenario it's fodder for us to laugh about in the future. This parenting gig is not easy, but it's also the best job in the world.
Blogging turned out to be amazingly cathartic. I was hesitant to share all our "stuff" and open ourselves up to be analyzed by strangers, but who better to partner with than Q6? They're a wonderful team who has been very supportive and even when they laughed about our parenting blunders they were always sweet about it!
Thanks for reading and sharing your stories with us.
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