Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The paradoxical nature of parenting and toddlerhood

My daughter is amazing: beautiful, smart, insightful, playful, funny, passionate, independent... I could go on forever. She is also what one might call a "spirited" child. She's willful and constantly on the go. Her energy level is astounding... which can be incredibly challenging at times as a parent.

She is our first, and one of the most difficult things I have struggled with during these first two years has been my sense of my own failings as a parent. I am not a natural mother... at least, I don't feel I fit the stereotype of glorious nurturing provider who is playful and fun and always has ideas for how to stay busy even when trapped indoors during two straight days of icy weather and dangerous temperatures. I need peace and solitude to recharge, and so I find myself often feeling overwhelmed by how much attention and focus she requires.

And this makes me feel incredibly guilty. And sometimes discouraged. And often disappointed in myself.

And I think of my other friends who have kids: Noelle, who also has a spirited daughter and manages to continue working as a writer/performer and to provide a sense of humor and flexibility while being loving and patient; my friend Diana, who is raising two children and makes time to create memory books and plan these amazing family events; Dana who is raising twins and chose to stick with nursing despite intense physical pain because she wanted to do what was best for her kids. Each of these amazing women gets down on herself, feels guilty at times, and has shared a sense of insecurity about her abilities and her worth - her identity as a mother.

I think sometimes we are able to be kinder to others than we are to ourselves. We can see strength, passion, and commitment more clearly and are more apt to commend the effort made instead of focusing on errors. We see their hearts, and we honor their endeavor.

Why is it so much easier to throw stones at ourselves?

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