I was lucky in that I had 2 friends who were pregnant along with me when I had Eldest and then Middle. So I never went through pregnancy (especially my first) and new motherhood alone. That is, if I were being neurotic and anal over which bottle/pacifier/stroller/carseat/sippy cup to buy, I had 2 friends who were in the exact same boat. In essence, we were all being
But now, I consider myself a seasoned veteran of this mothering gig. Having 3 children in 5 years will do that to a person. Thus, I'm a different parent with Baby than I was with Eldest. Less stressed (granted, the wine helps), more relaxed, more calm, less of a Nervous Nelly.
I think it's vital that children know how to amuse themselves. I shouldn't have to (nor do I want to, or realistically, have time to) be a constant playmate. And for me, this is easier than for some, because I do have 3. Just add
Granted, when it was just Eldest, he definitely received more 1-on-1 time than I could ever hope to give Middle or Baby now. Unfortunately. (Ack. Yet more Mother Guilt.)
Our house these days is pretty much completely childproofed. So except for the occasional open toilet lid (when Baby seizes the opportunity to give stuffed Elmo a swirly) or an unlatched video/DVD cabinet (when the contents are immediately strewn throughout the household) , the boyz are free to roam and play in their home environment. I don't feel it necessary to constantly supervise/referee or even join in their play. Of course, the lure of air hockey, the completion of a puzzle, or a nice game of Zingo can always make Momma stop what she's doing to come play. But what I've found that works for me (and allows me to get stuff done around the house) is that the busier I am, the better the boyz play and amuse themselves.
I carry this philosophy outside of the Trenches as well. When I take the boyz to the library, for example, we pick out our books (Crap. Froggy again?) and videos and then the boyz PLAY, while Mommy sits and reads magazines and observes the other library playroom patrons. I've noticed that a lot of children seriously don't know how (or refuse) to PLAY ALONE...or even with their peers. No one but their Mommy will suffice.
In the book Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, the author Judith Warner writes:
"Educators complain that many children have trouble transitioning to preschool because they've been played with so constantly and have gotten so much of what they want all the time at home. They come to kindergarten overprepared intellectually and underprepared in basic social skills."
She also states that "Too many of us now allow ourselves to be defined by motherhood and direct every ounce of energy into our children. This sounds noble on the surface but in fact it's doing no one--not ourselves, or our children--any good...All this places an undue burden upon our children. By making them the be-all-and-end-all of our lives, by breaking down the boundaries between ourselves and them so thoroughly, by giving them so much power within the family when they're very small, we risk overwhelming them psychologically and ill-preparing them, socially, for the world of other children and, eventually, other adults."
Makes you go "Hmmm....", right? Your thoughts, fellow Mommies?