Playing parenting by ear
I am one of those people who thinks it's awful when parents dish out unwanted advice to other parents, or even worse, non-parents, and yet sometimes I can't help myself. The other day I was horrified to find myself telling someone "if there's ONE thing I've learned about parenthood, it's that nothing is predictable! So keep that in mind: just when you think you've got your kid figured out, he'll change EVERYTHING!". Which, god, shut up, self, because I should clarify that the person I was speaking to did not in fact request my One Most Useful Piece of Parenting Know-How, I just up and offered that all on my own, and also, ALSO? I can't even follow my own advice, because even though the whole business of unpredictability is in fact true, I fall into a DAILY trap of thinking I know what the hell is going on in my own household and guess WHAT, I NEVER DO.
Hoo, sorry to go all CAPS LOCK on you, I'm just still reeling from a challenging couple weeks with the kids, where there was illness and then there was crankiness and the baby's started slobberingly gnawing his hands (no teething! no teething allowed! You're only 3 months old!) and wildly gagging on his fingers and I keep thinking he's hungry when he's tired and vice versa and my toddler has been oscillating between extreme cuteness and downright putridness and I feel like I've been plunged into jungle warfare lately, like where are the next round of bullets coming from, NO ONE KNOWS.
I guess it's mainly the baby's presence that makes everything extra crazy, because although Riley's mood can greatly change depending on such intangible factors as the number of oxygen molecules in the room and the position of the planets, he at least sticks to a basic routine of napping/sleeping/eating. In comparison, Dylan's the real chaos factor. Will he nap in short, frustrating intervals, or will he lapse into a comalike state for three solid hours in the middle of the afternoon, causing me to worriedly hold mirrors in front of his sleeping mouth? Will he milk-bong about a thousand ounces at this feeding, or will he daintily sip a few swallows and then loll his tongue out, totally distracted by the beige wall paint? Truly, even when babies start to develop schedules they are still a (pooping) mystery wrapped in a (spitup-coated) enigma.
So even though I clearly need to STFU when it comes to offering Helpful Little Parenting Guidelines, here's the ONE thing I KNOW is true: I am totally winging it over here. Seriously. I've been at this job for two and a half years and I swear it just gets more humbling every day.
What about you? Do you feel pretty confident as a parent, like you've pretty much got your stuff together -- or are you winging it too?
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.