The other night, as I was hot-gluing together a “Frozen” puzzle that my youngest had ripped into smaller pieces, I wondered, what the hell was I doing? The puzzle belonged to my eldest, and I thought it was a prized possession by the amount of times we had put it together and taken it apart to put together again. As I glued away, my eldest remained unfazed about the whole fiasco and more in awe of my gluing ability. So, if the outcome didn’t matter (according to the unclear expression), and it would be easier to just buy a new one, why did I feel the need to spend this time gluing the puzzle? Love? Principle? I began to wonder, just how far would I go for my children?
When our children are infants, we do everything, and I mean everything. We jump to them when they cry, try everything we can to get them to stop, and attempt every sleeping position (including letting them sleep on us through the night, if necessary) to get them to be calm and give us a brief reprieve to recharge our own batteries. We drop everything we are doing in order to try and figure out what is bothering them, or making them happy, or to get them to eat. Their needs come before ours, including sleep (did I mention that enough? I guess I was more sleep deprived than I thought!) but we do it for many reasons. Sometimes, it’s out of pure love, other times it’s for necessity and still others because we haven’t a clue what is going on and we’re trying to figure it out. In any event, nothing else matters as long as the baby is happy. So, we do everything in our power to do so, no matter what it takes.
As our children grow, we are trying to figure out what they like and what they don’t like, including food. I struggled with this immensely, but I think part of it had to do with the fact that both of my children started with milk and soy allergies. I had to check all of the labels to be sure there were no traces of milk in their new foods they were trying, and then it was even further for the soy part of it. (To this day, I am not entirely sure if “soy lethicin” is the same as regular soy, and if certain soy proteins were ok, so I just avoided anything that said soy. It was safer.) Surprisingly, there were quite a few foods that fell into this category, but it was still a pain in the tush to find them. My eldest was less picky, but my youngest definitely took some getting used to. I would try EVERYTHING to get them to eat, and sometimes I would literally give up and just send the snacks and food in baggies to school. I would warn the teachers that breakfast was completely (or even partially) avoided, so hunger would soon rear its ugly head. With our first, we definitely had specific requests for them: clean your plate filled with good, wholesome foods to eat and you could choose a snack that you wanted after if you were still hungry. Come kid #2, we just tried to get any nourishment into them, and it was a free for all most times. Now that they are older, we can withhold items, free time, snacks or other things to try to give them incentive to eat better. It usually works because they are more likely to understand the repercussions of it.
How far will we go to have a good time? I was out with a friend of mine earlier for lunch (yes, my kids were at daycare so I could enjoy my day, guilt-free!), and her child kept acting up at lunch. She was trying everything in her power to quiet him, to make him happy, to have him eat, all the while trying to maintain a conversation with me. I felt so terrible for her that at one point, I was literally inhaling my food in case we had to make a quick exit. It wasn’t that he was being “bad” per say, he was just being a typical, non-verbal one year old in quasi-quiet restaurant. But what do we do for our kids so that they are happy and quiet? And what do we do so that we can have enjoyable times out on the town? You can’t truly discipline a one year old and expect them to understand the consequences; at the end of it all, you are the only one who truly suffers. Yes, you could remove the child from the situation, but then aren’t you giving up your good time, too?
I think as parents we all question when is the right time to draw the line. We try everything in our power to establish authority, and then when that doesn’t work, we do whatever we can to simply survive. Although our children’s happiness is first priority (most times), we often forget about the cost with which it comes: our own sanity, happiness, everything. I suppose my feelings on this may change as my two grow older and can comprehend more, but until then, I suppose I should get back to gluing my puzzle. Amongst all of the other mommy things on my to-do list.