Raising the Spirited Child

So I finally got this book the other day, after people telling me for the past 6 years that I should. I was skimming it last night and I read a paragraph that said something like, “Perhaps you watched your sil proudly beam as her baby smiled and cooed at everyone, then peacefully fell asleep, while you were walking around the house with your fussing, unhappy baby, trying to figure out what she was doing right and you were doing wrong.” I literally got tears in my eyes because that is exactly how I felt when Cameron was a baby. He was my first, he was terribly unsettled and colicky, and I can remember many times when I walked around and around my mother’s back yard with a screaming baby, trying to keep my composure, while my sister’s baby sat contentedly in someone’s arms on the patio. I absolutely thought I was doing something wrong, and it’s funny to think that after all this time, those memories still have the power to affect me.

But I didn’t get the book for Cameron; with time he has learned how to control his emotions, and he is a much calmer child. No– this time it’s more for Gabby, who cannot be reasoned with. Who cannot go to sleep unless conditions are just right. Who is a wonderful but exhausting whirlwind of a child. Who has the persistence of a jackhammer. Just from last night’s reading I marked 3 places for Dave to read, too; one of them was about dealing with an extrovert personality when you yourself are an introvert, which I think will help him tremendously. I no longer judge my success as a parent by whether my kids had a good day or a bad day. However just reading that Cameron’s challenging infancy did not happen because of mistakes that I made (even though I know that already), was a good validation for me. I am accustomed to being able to do whatever I put my mind to, and because I could not “help” Cameron– I couldn’t stop the colic, I couldn’t keep him from melting down regularly, I couldn’t comfort him– part of me has always taken that as a personal failure. And I don’t handle failure well.

On another note, who has seen that pink Valentine’s mug at Starbucks? It says “Sweet” and has a tiny ceramic heart tied to the handle with a pink ribbon. Dave bought it for me as an early Valentine’s gift; isn’t that cute?


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