Today’s guest post comes from Liz Miesen. Liz was one of our very first friends to start a baby blog — perhaps you’ve already met her, her husband Nick, and their kids Stella and Charlie on our blogroll. The Miesen’s are expecting another one in early 2011. If Nick gets his wish, they’ll have twelve more kids after that. We hope you enjoy, and thank you Liz!
Where to begin?! Let’s start with the fact that we, Nick and Liz Miesen, are clearly experts on the subject of parenting. There is simply no way that we can impart all of the expertise gained in the past three years and five months. We earned our master’s degree in parenting when, a mere 14 months ago, a second child entered our lives. And now we’re preparing to get the equivalent of a PhD in parenting when baby number three is born in February 2011. Advice? Oh, we have it. But should we share it and use it for good? Or let you figure it all out for yourselves?
…blah, blah, blah… Is that sometimes how you feel around other parent “experts”?
Experts or no, we can share some practical tips. Like: ALWAYS have a spare change of clothes in the diaper bag … and plastic bags. You never know when a blowout will occur. One happened when I bravely brought Stella to a dermatologist appointment. Scene: a silent waiting room, a gassy baby, some unapproving glances, relief when called to the exam room … and finally despair upon realizing poop was in Stella’s hair, covering her back and somehow on her feet. It was July … and HOT. After a frantic search in the exam room, the poopy clothing was stuffed into a latex glove and Stella was redressed in a head to toe fleece outfit. I told her out loud, “You brought this on yourself.”
Another helpful piece of advice: Just because your spouse does it differently does not mean that it is “wrong.” Whatever it may be … feeding, bathing, diapering, clothing, reading, singing. I have found it possible to critique every single one of these activities and countless more. I remind myself constantly, making it my mantra: Just because Nick does it differently, doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
More advice: It’s ok to let babies cry … SERIOUSLY. It’s one thing if they’re wailing for long periods of time as if the world is going to end. But if they’re fussing and you just stepped into the shower? Take the shower. Speed it up a bit if you must, but know that they’re not going anywhere and they’ll be ok. With Stella, I jumped every time she made a peep. Now she still expects me to keep that up. Charlie, on the other hand, often had to wait and he still does a good job of that. He’ll let me know when he’s mad, of course, but he’s much more easygoing.
Is it personality? Is it parenting? That’s the old nature vs. nurture argument. All I know is a three week old can’t go anywhere and if you need to step out of the room to bathe, take a five minute phone call or regain your sanity … it’s ok to set him down and let him work it out for a minute.
Parenting can be humiliating. Kids have loud voices and share what’s on their mind. Like: “Mom, look at that black baby over there!” (said loudly in a crowded mall). Or at a Bob Evans where the host was a bit overweight: “His belly is REALLY big.”
What parenting has taught me: That the entire first paragraph is a joke. Everyday I’m sort of starting again. I call it an ongoing experiment. Just when you think you have things figured out, they change and you get to start analyzing, observing, and trying again. Thankfully kids learn with you and actually teach you as you go. The beginning is just eating and sleeping. Then we work on walking on feeding and talking and obeying and manners and sharing and obeying and listening and etc., etc., etc.
Something that I’ll be working on for a long time is accepting the fact that these little people are individuals separate from us, with wills and desires different than our own. Not everything they do is a reflection of us, the parent. I always thought that kids who hit must come from homes that hit. Well, Stella hits occasionally because she doesn’t have the power to control herself very well yet and she uses her body rather than her words to express her feelings. Do I like it? No. Is it acceptable? Absolutely not. Does she do it because that’s what we do? No. She’s three and she’s figuring it out.
Kids are going to make choices that we don’t like … even though we’ve taught them the “right” things to do and the “correct” ways to behave. They are going to do things that do not make us happy. It’s a hard concept to grasp. You’re tempted to think, Does that mean that I didn’t do it right? If they screw up, am I a bad parent? NO! And just because your child is president doesn’t make you a better parent than the rest of us either. My parents couldn’t help me with my math homework past fourth grade. Did they take credit for their “great parenting” because I took calculus? No. That was an achievement all my own because I worked hard and studied hard. They may have passed on some good study skills or made it apparent that education was a priority in our home … but if that’s true, why did my brother stop at geometry?
Do everything you can to pray for your kids and entrust the Lord to care for them. Hand Sam over to Him and trust that He will bring him up and equip you to parent him the “right” way.
Psalm 127:3 – Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Children really are a gift. We’ve been entrusted to care for helpless, little people who will amaze you and make you cry and laugh and test you further than you’ve ever been tested. But there’s a purpose that you have this role now and it’s a blessing. You don’t need to know anything but to love him. Be consistent in showing love. Sam is very blessed to have you two, who care so much, as his parents.