Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Stealing" Christmas

I want to start with the wonder of Christmas. It was a beautiful day and I was thankful to celebrate it while surrounded by my family. Hopefully I'll even come back to this. But for now, I want to digress.

I am really struggling with how to make sense of the different parenting styles that my sister and I have. She has a difficult time relaxing when my daughter is around. Peanut at almost 2 years old, is perceived by my sister as a constant threat to her 5 month old son (let's call him Buddy). As soon as Peanut sees a toy that she would like, she wants to grab it away from Buddy. The grabbing is a recent development. With our friends in our parenting support group, the other children are close in age to Peanut and fortunately we all see more or less eye to eye about sharing and how to encourage the kids to share (esp. as they're all at an age where they need to do this).

With my sister, she can't stand to surrender one of Buddy's toys or books for even a moment (something I might do to keep another kid happy). I can respect this, but I'd rather she use a firm, "No" or "It's Buddy's turn, you have to wait for your turn." This is the language we use regularly with Peanut. Instead, I went upstairs for a few moments the other day and heard her yell, quite sharply at Peanut saying, "NO Peanut, that's stealing!!". At first I had to laugh. How many 2 year olds understand the concept of stealing and thievery?? And then I was just frustrated. Because my sister is pretty high-strung. Because she can't seem to accept that Peanut is doing what toddlers do. Because although my sister, BIL and Buddy have only been here in my parents' house since the morning of the 24th and I'm very happy for them to leave today (once upon a time I would have wished that my sister and BIL could stay another week).

Being a parent changes you. I understand that and I'm constantly grateful for the opportunity to be changed by it. I just can't help but wonder if my sister and I will ever see eye to eye again. I confess I'm amazed at how much I see my life through this lens of motherhood in ways that I didn't anticipate. I didn't think it would change my relationship with my sister but it has. Once upon a time I felt that she'd be best guardian for my daughter; now I know that I couldn't live with that decision. I always knew that our outlooks on life are different, but I thought for sure that I could live with that and I could handle knowing that she was parenting Peanut. But there's no way that I could do that now. My sister has her hands full with her own son. And she's a high-strung, anxious person - to a degree that I hadn't really seen until she was also a mom.

Becoming a mom - being a mom can change so much.


  1. You are so right that motherhood changes so much. Hoping that once Buddy is a toddler, your sister is struck with some insight about how she once treated Peanut. Actually, I hope it happens sooner than that, but it sounds like she has a ways to go. That all sounds quite hard - being suddenly so far apart from your sister on something so important to both of you. Makes me grateful that so far my sisters and I haven't had to struggle with this.

    Merry Christmas and akemashite omedetou gozaimasu!

  2. Oh wow! That is tricky. It is sad that it has moved you both apart. It is just such a short phase where the children's age gap is so big, so hopefully by the time your babies are children together you will see eye to eye more (or at least have a more level playing field).

    I feel the same with so many of my friend with children Champ's age. I have actually moved further away from friends who have chuldren his age than the ones who are still single or have much older children. Hopefully that will all change one day too.

    Merry Christmas to you all.

  3. That's interesting. I guess you really never know how a person will parent.

  4. Yeah, I'm sure (as much as I could be, hahah!) that probably motherhood has changed both of you. As I had PADepression for about the first 8 months, and then began to slowly unwind, I hope that when your sister gets used to parenting that she will, in important ways, return to be the sister you remember.

    A two year old "stealing" is rather funny. Ryu used to thank tiny tiny baby Jun "for her cooperation." Makes me laugh still - but I use that word with her now!

    When are you coming back over?

  5. Hey there.. It has been a while since I came by and said hello. Wanted to wish you a Happy Christmas and more happier New Years.

  6. My sister and I are very different mothers, as well. I'm a bit more relaxed and she tens to be high strung. It's hard for me to realize that we parent different and not get frustrated with her. I tend to take a lot of deep breaths and do my best to know it isn't forever that we'll be in the same room parenting. She might calm down a bit as Buddy gets older. I know my sister did. Good luck, hon!

  7. Stealing? Sheesh. It is a developmental task that toddlers learn ownership -- and a big part of that is taking toys from other kids (and crying when their toys are taken). Healthy and normal.

    I imagine it's hard to relax around your sister, with her being so high-strung. She may mellow out over time (perhaps if/when they have another), or maybe not. I just hope it doesn't push you two apart too much.