Yet, what I've recently come to realize is that when it comes to raising Madeline, Eric is much better equipped than I am in many ways. Truth be told, Eric is the better parent.
There's no question that I wear the proverbial “pants” in the family as far as the baby goes. I make most of the decisions about Madeline's care. I choose her clothes, meals, and nap schedule. When we're home, I'm the one who decides how we're going to keep her occupied and engaged for the day. In short, I'm the ring master.
But Eric? Eric is the lion tamer. (Madeline is the lion here...just so we're clear.) I may run the show, but Eric’s the one placing his head between the lion’s jaws.
Maddie-taming, much like lion taming--I can assume--, takes a lot of patience. I am not a patient person. It’s my biggest flaw. I get frustrated easily. My mood can flip flop between two extremes and back again in the span of an hour. I lose my temper over silly things that shouldn’t matter.
So when it comes to reeling in our head-strong toddler, who is doing her very best to test every limit set for her, I'm not always the best person for the challenge.
On the other hand, I am continuously amazed by Eric's patience and care with our daughter. I think the only time I've ever seen him get outwardly flustered as a parent was at 3 AM in the morning after Madeline hadn't slept for a week. Other than that one very understandable moment of weakness, he always keeps his cool.
When I take my cell phone away from Madeline, and she throws a fit, Eric’s the one to get down on the floor and distract her with some toys. When I select the truck-shaped shopping cart at the grocery store because I think it will be ever so fun for Madeline, only to steer the cumbersome beast into a display of organic tomato sauce, Eric calmly takes over shopping-cart duty. That way Madeline enjoys her ride, and Mumma enjoys watching Madeline enjoy her ride. Eric cleans up our messes.
Meanwhile, when Madeline gets in that grumpy, toddler-tantrum mood, I completely shut down. It's probably because I can't control or fix the situation. The whims and desires of Maddie Bears are not something that can be easily brushed aside, and a baby cannot be reasoned with. I wish I could patiently guide her through her tantrum the way Eric does, but instead I get frustrated because she is frustrated. So instead of just having one pouting redhead in the house, we suddenly have two. I need a lot of time outs from parenting.
But Eric? Eric never needs a time out.
Luckily, my frustration always seems to be taken out on inanimate objects and never on people. It's not like I start stomping around screaming at my daughter. I very rarely, if ever, raise my voice at Madeline. Instead, I take all that built up stress and have a complete hissy fit over a can opener not working properly later that day.
Yet, I do worry that my bad moods affect Madeline even if they're not directed at her. It would be ludicrous to assume they don't.
|Eating Pizza with Dada|
I see how it affects her first in the fact that Madeline is a mini version of her mumma. Her personality goes from lovely to threat-level-orange in ten seconds flat. Of course, she is a sixteen-month-old baby, and I hear that's how most babies act. Sadly, I am a thirty-year-old woman. Maybe she’ll grow out of it...
Yet, my bigger worry is that as she gets older, she'll sense my frustration and think it's her fault. If she's having a bad day, or struggling to work out a problem I can't easily solve for her, I don't want her to think her feelings are bad or invalid because they drive her mother slightly batty. I want her to be able to come me with her math homework no matter how frustrating I find math.
I'm afraid that when she has a problem, she'll go directly to Eric instead of coming to me because she'll be afraid of my reaction. Or worse, she'll hide her feelings from both of us.
Thankfully, Madeline has at least one cool-headed parent, and I hope she learns her problem-solving skills from him rather than me.
In the meantime, I'm trying my best to be patient and enjoy this stage of Madeline's life as much as possible. (Which I do, P.S. As much as I'm whining now, I love this age overall.)
I'll be watching Eric carefully and learning from him the best I can so that I can be the better parent too.
Madeline at the beach with Eric enjoying a daughter-Dada saturday afternoon.