Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back in the Saddle

I'm trying to get back into the swing of things here at home (Seattle) after our trip to Raleigh, while simultaneously preparing to go on the road again. In another couple of weeks we're off to the East Coast to visit my parents for the holidays and from there it's on to Japan again. I can't begin to describe how happy I am to be spending Thanksgiving AND Christmas with my folks. I will be very thankful this year!

In the meantime we're in the midst of chaos once again. But I'm sure you can imagine what that's like. Rather than cover all that now, I thought I'd mention how weird and surreal it was to be looking in on the lives of my sister and brother-in-law and their new baby. Baby G was just about 2.5 months old when we visited and your average happy-go-lucky baby. What I had forgotten or blocked out I suppose, was how steep the learning curve can be as a new parent. I can't remember the last time I saw such stressed out parents. And then it occurred to me that maybe I had and just couldn't remember it! I have no idea how we looked to outsiders. Most of our friends have kids close in age to Peanut, so when I saw them with newborns, we were all frazzled and sleep-deprived and learning as fast as we could.

I wished on multiple occasions that I could have taken the baby from my sister and offered to make it better. But new parents have to learn in their own time and their own way.

I wished on multiple occasions that I could make them more comfortable with having us (and our toddler) stay in the house with them. Especially so that they wouldn't have to be so worried about all damage she might do to herself since that is just as much my job as Peanut's parent as it is their job as host/ess. But again, they're not used to being around toddlers and need more time and exposure to be comfortable with the everyday antics of a toddler.

I worried that I wasn't parenting as well as I should or could. Their level of concern about my child's behavior was much more intense than my own level of concern and I don't know if it's because I'm too "hands-off" and therefore negligent in some way (or maybe I'm just a bad guest?). Or maybe it's truly just a difference in parenting styles (or to be fair maybe they were just far too overwhelmed to be hosting us and dealing with a newborn and the whole situation just created more anxiety for them).

All in all, my head was sort of spinning after our trip. I kept trying to look back at my own experience nearly 1 1/2 years ago to see what I would have looked like to an outsider. But of course that's never really possible. I just keep thinking that there's a valuable lesson to be learned from our trip but I'm unable to see it yet.


  1. Hmmmm... based on what I know of you (being an awesome mom and in no way too "hands-off" or negligent) it sounds like they were just in full stress mode and suffering from sleep deprivation. I wonder if they felt so overwhelmed with their own parenting tasks that they focused on yours? Toddlers can be challenging FOR SURE, but I would take a 20-month-old over a newborn any day. :)

  2. Very interesting post as I will be on the other end of this in a few weeks when my sister is here with her 2 year old and I will have the new baby. I am very experienced in being around toddlers so hopefully that will take some of the edge off the experience, but I expect it will be interesting for both of us being together as two mothers instead of as sisters, or as a childless sister and a mothering sister as has been the case the past few times we've seen each other. I like your insight about seeing the learning curve of the new parents differently when it's not you who's trying to learn! I'll have to ask my sister about that.