Saturday, May 10, 2008

Live and Learn

It's 5:30 in the morning on a Saturday, and I've been up for three hours. I've got the stench of stale puke somewhere in my bedroom, but I can't quite pinpoint what it's coming from. In six hours, I'll be attending a birthday party at Suck-E-Cheese with 200 screaming children. I'd try to go back to sleep, but I've got to run to the grocery store before the party to pick up (more!) Pedialyte, some chicken soup, and an impersonal "I care but honestly don't have time to shop" gift card.

And you thought Sunday was Mother's day.

When Miss Em threw up at 2:30, I - first - cleaned her up and - second - apologized profusely. Totally Mommy's fault! With every child it's the same - I lose my head when it comes to a stomach bug. I always get fooled by a happy baby who hasn't been sick in over 24 hours. She's so hungry! She wants real food! She's held down the juice and crackers and rice and bananas and she's FINE now! Really!

Only not.

Note to self: NO MILK until vomiting has been gone for at least 48 hours. EVER.

You'd think I'd have the hang of this parenting thing the third time around. That I'd have learned something from the first two; that I'd have the shiny badge of Experience pinned to my shirt. But I don't. I'm the same bumbling fool that I was six years ago when I thought Ethan was All Better after a stomach bug, but (oops) he wasn't. The only difference is, now, there are more witnesses.

I've got another birthday this month, and I find I'm no wiser than I was at my last one. Isn't that supposed to happen? Aren't you supposed to magically mature over time? It happens at work. I've been in my position almost seven years. Over time, I've honed my skills, learned from my mistakes, and found the best way to do things. I'm comfortable in my job, I'm not too proud to say I'm pretty good at it. Most days, I feel competent.

I'm still trying to figure out when that feeling will translate to the rest of my life. Maybe by my next birthday?

I suppose I sell myself short. I am making progress in some areas, and I'm working to improve in small ways. I'm working on my emotional health, and I'm (still) in therapy, working on my anxiety issues. Over the past few months, I've had some small breakthroughs that I'm proud of. Physical health is still high on my list, and while I've got room for improvement, I'm healthier now than I've been in a decade. Now that the weather is nice, I'm exercising again, and I've really been trying to focus on healthier eating. Cutting out the obvious enemies - bad fats, high fructose anything - and adding in more REAL foods. I always feel healthier (and less guilty) when I make better food choices.

Jete and I are trying to actively parent in healthier ways as well. I signed us up for a parenting class after going to a short presentation, and it's been ... educational. The focus is on the child's feelings and motivation behind the misbehavior, and figuring out *why* they do what they do, rather than how to effectively punish. At the core, it's an earthy-crunchy, give your kid power, attachment parenting kind of approach, so I was sure Jete would hate it. But he's actually taken to the lessons more than I thought, and he's using some of the techniques during the week with success. My hope is that we can raise our kids to be whole, happy, confident adults without allowing them to become disrespectful, selfish or spoiled. Only time will tell.

And still - as I sit here pondering deep thoughts - how to improve my inner self, how to raise good children in a dark and cold world - I also wonder this:

Why is it a 10-month-old farting in her sleep is so damn funny to me? (Yet, husband farting in his sleep? Not so much.)

So yeah. Maybe we'll try for that "maturing" thing tomorrow.