Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Our History: Part 2

After we adopted Son #1, we had the typical first-time parent issues.  We struggled with our selfishness, and the realization that we were no longer ever just free to go where we wanted when we wanted.  I dealt with being home all day, instead of working full-time.  And we got our first taste of parenthood and all that goes with it: diaper explosions, fussy kids at nap time, scheduling around his meals, etc. At the time, this was hard for us.

Looking back, it was actually easy.  Easy, because Son1 was an easy baby.  He slept all night.  He played contentedly by himself.  He was obedient and hardly ever fussy.  He never complained. Once, I took him for a well check, and he actually had a double ear infection.  We didn't know because he never acted sick.

Now, I should never really claim that anything about being a parent is actually "easy."  If it is, you're doing it wrong.  The hard part was simply adjusting our hearts and our attitudes, and deciding that all of these things were really blessings and not inconveniences or irritations.  It's a choice we had to make, but once you make it, nothing could be easier.  Love and joy just flow out of you and you suddenly realize that there's nowhere you'd rather be than spending time with this little person.

Compared to other experiences we would have, certain parts were definitely technically easy.  We say it was God's way of easing us in and tricking us into having another baby.  :-)

Beyond the basic first-time parent shocks and realizations, here is what I learned from that time in our life:

1.  All kids are different.  If you do not believe this, well, you just haven't been around long enough yet.  You cannot force a child into someone else's mold. While I do think certain things are good and important for all children (predictable routines, good nutrition, some social interaction), I can see that every child is going to react differently to situations.  Your child might sit quietly and play contentedly in the pew during church (heck, mine SLEPT in the pew during church!), while the mother next to you is struggling to entertain hers while the kid throws Cheerios at the people in front of them and then cries because he is out of his snack.  This doesn't mean she's doing something wrong.  That behavior may not be acceptable, but it isn't necessarily because this mother isn't as skilled or wise as you.  Her kid is different than your kid.

2.  All kids are different.  Wait, did I already say that?  Before we brought Son1 home, I had these visions of all the amazing activities we'd do together, and the places we would go.  The reality is that Son1 is the most introverted person I've ever known.  He doesn't like to "go out" into the world and see people.  Playgroup time consisted of him sitting on my lap while he watched everyone else play.  And forget situations like Children's Fairs or indoor playplaces.  If there was even one other child there, he'd just be glued to me and never engage.  I was so frustrated with this initially (and sometimes still am).  I am extremely extroverted, and I used to see that kind of behavior as rude and "wrong."  "What is wrong with him?" I'd think.  After learning more about introverts, I accept and even like that he's like this.  First of all, he isn't going to simply follow a crowd.  He is going to think before he jumps in.  And he's also the kind of kid that can sit and happily read books alone for 2+ hours.  Nothing wrong with that.  While we continue to challenge him in the area of social interaction, I no longer think it's "wrong" to be introverted and timid.  Don't get me wrong:  he is a fun and happy child, with a ready smile for most people.  He just doesn't want to talk to you. :-) So we stayed home a lot and played Plah-doh and colored and read books.

3.  This time is short. I saw immediately with Son1 that childhood does indeed fly by.  I started becoming a crying mess all the time as I thought about him continuing to grow up.  I mark the seasons with "next year at this time, he'll be such-and-such age."  I realized it was time to buckle down and engage with him as much as possible so I didn't wake up one day to see him leaving for college.  Again, this is hard with his personality, because he doesn't need a lot of social engagement time, even with me.  He doesn't seek that out.  But if I initiate it, he is willing and happy and we have a great time together.

When Son1 was around 2 years old, we decided it was time to try for a sibling (mainly because he was the only grandchild on both sides of our family, and he was beginning to believe he was the only child in the WORLD.  Thanks, grandparents, aunts and uncles. :-) ).  That story is for another day.  But since I am so musical, I wanted to share a song that I always think of when I remember our days at home, just me and Son1. It always reminds me of him and the joy we had together.

Here's a link to the whole song by Dave Matthews Band, but the specific lyrics I think of for him, as he'd sing them in the back of my SUV in his little car seat with me, are these:

"You and me together, we can do anything, baby!  You and me together, yeah yeah.  The two of us together, we can do anything, baby.  You and me together, yeah. Yeah."
(***for those of you that don't know me as well, you should know that yes, I listen to lots of "secular" music.  I could write a whole post on this, but mainly I just believe God can and does speak to us through all sorts of realms, including "secular" music, art and movies.  Not that they are all beneficial.  But a lot of them are. And of course I monitor all of it before letting my kids listen/view.)


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