Friday, May 8, 2009

Different Parenting Styles and Diapers

            Michelle was upset with me yesterday. The baby was crawling around and got herself into a predicament where she wanted the book but the table leg was in the way. So, of course, she started to cry. Michelle came rushing in from the kitchen to extricate the baby but I said, “Leave her. I want her to learn how to figure it out herself.”
            “But she’ll wind herself up and get upset,” Michelle urged.
            “She’ll figure it out,” I said. “We just have different parenting styles. We’re okay in here, you can go back to the kitchen.”
            Michelle left the room in a huff, and Celia figured it out and stopped crying. However, within ten minutes I was getting pulled to something else and I gave the baby back to Michelle. When I came back in fifteen minutes Michelle was trying to feed one grumpy baby. Michelle looked at me with fire in her eyes and said, “Different parenting styles?! I’m the one who spends all day with her! I know what she needs! She’s upset now!”
            She abruptly lifted the crying baby and went upstairs. I decided to give her space, rather than try to intervene at that moment. Interestingly, the baby fell right asleep. So, okay, when you look at this objectively from afar, the baby was just her normal cranky self when she’s tired and ready to sleep. It may or may not have had anything to do with learning to maneuver around a table leg. Objectively, I think I could argue either side.
            But of course, with the ladies, one must learn that objective analysis has pretty much no weight compared to her feelings. And her feelings were hurt. I think she felt devalued by me, as if I didn’t value her opinion. Not that she was necessarily right, but I probably could have said something like, “Thanks for your concern sweetie. I just want to give her a chance to work through it herself, if that’s okay with you.”
            It does raise an interesting issue that’s come for us a few times; different parenting styles. Overall, we’re pretty similar on the most important issues, but there are some key things that we disagree on. So far, we’ve pretty much compromised or ended up going with one or the other’s leaning. I think collaboration is pretty much the best way to go. Ideally, if we could come up with the time and energy to talk through our differences, do some research, and come up with a collaborative decision, I think all three of us would be happier. But of course, who has time for that? Only on the biggest issues.
            For example, Celia’s cloth diapers pissed me off again this morning. I was so frustrated trying to get her packaged up in it, the cloth kept peeking through around her leg, and if anything peeks out, even a tiny pee will soak through to the clothing. Either I really suck at this, or those cloth diapers really suck. Whichever one it is, I’m ready to switch back. Screw the environmental issues, this is such a headache.
            Okay, okay, I’m emotional. Let me think on this for a bit longer and talk with Michelle. I’m sure she’s probably encountering this as well. I think this is a bigger issue that requires collaboration, because it hits our pocketbook, the environment, and our happiness factor for ease of changing (already my least favorite thing to do with the baby). Maybe that’s why this is a charged issue. Dirty diapers are pretty much the worst thing about a kid, and any issues around it seems like they’re magnified a few times bigger than they really are.
            I look forward to the day when the score changes in my favor. Dirty Diapers 193. Dad 194. Yes, that day will come. The day where little Celia is ready to use a non-diaper alternative, i.e. the toilet. I never thought I’d so look forward to someone using a toilet. Who ever knew it could be such a fantastic source of anticipation? I think that’s one thing Michelle and I both can agree on and strive toward. We could almost give it a proper name, to reflect the emotional load it has begun to carry:
The Toilet of Hope. Coming soon to a theatre near you!

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