Rather, it’s trial and error. Or, a game of Connect Four where you plunk down three disks in a row, Bam Bam Bam, but keep getting blocked from winning, every time.
Jocelyn is not a morning person. This is something that I know well myself, but the soul of a toddler cannot be soothed with a brewing pot of coffee. If she wakes up on her own she is pleasant and cordial, like the dutiful daughter that exists in my dreams. This morning, Khary woke her up with a nudge, and she began screaming. Crying. But the kind of crying that involves more yelling and shrieking and sucking in air than actual tears.
Our reactions vary depending on the sun’s magnetic pull. The morning routine dictates that Khary dresses the girls while I get ready for work. Then we switch. Her tirade had yet to cease when I entered the lion's den, and I just didn’t feel like yelling.
I looked at her sprawled out on the living room floor. Her nose was scrunched like she had just sucked on a lemon and she squeezed her eyes, trying desperately to shoot tears directly towards me.
I was calm but firm.
“You can be happy or you can be quiet!”
I walked back into the kitchen.
She got quiet.
Could this be the miracle cure for toddler tantrums?
I can be sure that this won’t work tomorrow. If I wrote a parenting book it would be called: This Will Only Work Once. When All Else Fails, Go Back to Bed.
I’ve mentioned before that I'm skeptical of parenting books and parenting trends. There was an article on The Bump today about wacky parenting trends, like never saying no, or biting the baby back. I read them and laugh and, quite frankly, judge. To each his/her own, right? I often shrug and I want to ignore them all together. But it’s like a giant turd that I don’t want to look at, yet it’s my daughter’s first, so I want to take a picture. Motherlode is beginning a book club, of sorts, where the topic is parenting books. My first thought was, no thanks. And then she explained her first choice: “TORN: True Stories of Kids, Career and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood,” an anthology of essays by 47 women exploring how they navigate the need to nurture and the need for work.
I’m a working mother. I nurture. But I don’t really feel conflict—not in the way that many parenting articles try to cure. I have had to adjust since returning to work full-time, and it has been hard, but it’s the small things that are hardest: going to the store, trying to run simple errands between leaving work and making the daycare cutoff. I miss the girls, and I occasionally stare at their pictures above my desk, but I know that they are cared for each day, and they are taught and inspired and encouraged. They bring their new vocabulary and their new ideas and new skills home, and I feel like it’s worth it. At times I wish that I had savored my part-time-work-at-home status a little longer—my ability to have a leisurely breakfast and then take the girls for a walk. But I’m not looking at it as a choice. I didn’t choose work over my children. I chose work AND my children.
It’s questionable whether I’ll even find the time to read TORN, but I will certainly follow the chain of comments on Motherlode to determine if it’s this modern take on motherhood is really modern or just a familiar story of biting babies back.
Do you read parenting books? If so, what do you feel you’re gaining as a parent? If not, why?