Adulthood Revisited? Reset Your Grown-up Self, when your Baby is just too cute!
Have you ever felt so entranced by your baby that you lose track of yourself as a grown-up? I don’t mean in the chronological sense of your age but in the sense of your role. Are you Mommy, the cuddler-nurturer, at one with your infant? Or are you Mommy the leader, an example for all the little ones who are going to grow up in your home? Sometimes we need a wake-up call to merge the two into the one person our children call “Mom.” (Not to mention regaining the identity of co-producer with the other adult member of the family).
My mother gave me my wake-up call at 3:00 am, one Tuesday morning, when she walked into my kitchen where I was more or less pretending to enjoy playing goo-goo-gah-gah with a baby who obviously thought it was 3:00 in the afternoon. Mama would stay overnight twice a week so I could prepare my lectures and get a good night’s sleep before going to UCLA and be 100% at my “real” job as a professor.
“What the H— are you doing?” she asked. I attempted a feeble, “the baby doesn’t want to sleep…” And she very firmly said: “Who’s the grown-up here? You or the baby who doesn’t know the difference between night and day?” In one sweep, my mother lifted the baby out of my arms, told me to go to bed, and announced that she would put her to sleep. And if I hadn’t noticed, I had created the expectation that when the baby wanted to be awake, I would accommodate. How long was that going to last with 4 children?
“Okay I get it” and I smiled and pressed my reset button. When that little girl was born I could be described with a long list of “E” words: extravagantly euphoric, enthralled, and exhilarated by her birth. The LAST thing on my mind was logistics or practicality. But I needed to get it together and put nurture, snuggle, and indulge in their proper place under the masthead of Mom-in-Charge of myself and my children’s world. And besides my mother’s scolding, here are 3 reasons why:
- Children all but beg us to make sense of and translate the complexities of this world to them. Even the most willful child, wants to understand the lay of the land.
- Infants and preschoolers have up to 100% of their time to observe us. We probably have LESS than 10% of OUR TIME to purposefully teach them. Setting an example is way more important than screaming at or over-indulging your kids because you choose not to lead.
- You have added children to your life, but they do not want to exist as your life. They are going to grow up and make their own way, even as they hold you close.
Why not launch them from a position of leading with love, purpose and support? That’s really the most grown-up thing to do.