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on the (over?)abundance of praise…

December 9, 2011

harper is just shy of a year old now (and that can be a whole different blog post– of “holy hell where did almost a year of time go?”) and already i see in her the way she acquiesces to praise.  in fact, jason and i were just talking the other night before we went to bed about how interesting it is that she Loves to be told, “good job,” and “what a good girl!”  in the past ten and a half months we have probably gone way too overboard on the praise.  i have been noticing all the time recently the ways in which harper congratulates herself for all the small victories she accomplishes each day.  she eats her lunch and claps her hands.  she drinks some juice and claps her hands.  she finishes her bottle and claps her hands.  she waves good-bye to her stuffed animal, her grandparents, the wall– she claps her hands.  all of this as if to say, “i know i am awesome!  i am clapping because i am excelling at everything!” or, “look at me stand up and throw all these books off of the shelf!  i did it and i am clapping!  good job harper!!!”  her smile is at full tilt when jason and i send a little praise her way.  and, while i Love the way that she buries her head into my shoulder, embarrassed of my congratulations on occasion, i am beginning to wonder if already we are beginning to overdo it.

i’ve been pretty up front with the fact that until harper, i have never much been around children.  i readily admit that when it comes to raising a child, i have no idea what the crap i am doing.  and most days i think, hey, this is going great– my kid eats and sleeps and sticks to her schedule and doesn’t really fuss too much, i have got to be doing something right.  but, when it comes right down to it, i sure wish there were a manual!  see, i am, and always have been, heavy-handed.  i like to be in control.  i like things to go according to plans.  i am, without a doubt, a person who likes to do things by certain guidelines.  i mean, i think i am a unique individual and i enjoy thinking outside the norm, but, when it comes to most things i have done in life, i enjoy having a loose outline… some set of standards, if you will.  for me, if i have some kind of parameters, it is like a little rule book for me.  i am free to creatively interpret my ideas and opinions into the set criteria and then have a successful outcome.  unfortunately, i am learning that raising a child is not quite the same as writing a term paper.  there is no formula.  there is no specific way.  harper’s life is currently missing a thesis statement.

most days i wake up and just want to make it through the day… i want to laugh as much as possible and see my child enjoying herself.  but since she was born, i have noticed, and talked with jason, about how independent harper seems.  maybe that is the way all children are, i don’t know… i have little to compare.  there are days i think she wants us in the same room with her, but could care less if we are actually hands-on interacting with her.  there are days when she is content to sit on the floor in one space and stare at the same book for an hour.  other days she seems to be content with figuring out all of the ways in which she can be mobile (and all the things she can get into while becoming so affluent in her mobility).  some days she wants nothing more than to cuddle on the laps of mama and papa.  she has always really been the one to decide.  i take her daily activity schedule cues from her, because it seems, she Loves to be liberated.  already.  she likes discovering certain things on her own and then sharing them with us.  she likes to hear our praise, but some days i feel like our kisses and cuddles kind of overwhelm her.  some days it seems like she is screaming, “guys!  just let me figure it out by myself!!”

i didn’t ever prepare myself for the intricate dance it seems we do as a family each day.  it is difficult for me to balance my ideas of being overbearing and wanting to simply be there for my daughter.  i don’t ever want to smother her, but i don’t ever want her to feel as though i am not present enough.  i know it is inevitable i will make thousands and thousands of mistake as a mother.  for me, however, it is a difficult task to decide from moment to moment which parts of life my daughter should discover independently, and which instances i should be there to discover with her.  it is sometimes overwhelming to know that every single move you make will forever influence a person’s life, and i hope to make the right choices.  each day i hope i am learning more than the day before about when to hold my daughter close, and when to just let her go and see where her own path takes her.  after all, she should be the one writing the story of her life.  she should be the one composing her thesis statement.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. James GIllie permalink
    December 10, 2011 7:54 am

    Lydia,
    Don’t sweat the small stuff. I know you are a great mother and an awesome person.
    Lot’s of love,
    James

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