Monday, September 24, 2007

It goes both ways

Thus far in our child-rearing adventures, we've taken Baby B's lead on most things and develop our plan of action around her needs instead of what suits us best. As she's gotten older, it's become a lot easier to tell if what we're doing is satifactory to her; a big smile follows a fun splash in the bath, and a fast, happy grunt comes from her when she sees me lifting my shirt to feed her. I look to her for her approval to know that I'm doing things right and satifsying her various needs.

But it's interesting because it also goes the other way. When she's in the bath and clinks two toys together, she looks up at me to see if I've approved of her little noise experiment. When she crawls across the living room away from me, she steals a quick glance back at me to see if I'm watching her. When she takes a Puff from my hand and feeds herself, then chews it up, she looks up at me with her big eyes that ask eagerly, "Did I do it right, Mommy?"

We're caught up in an endless circle of looking for approval from each other to know if we're performing our respective jobs correctly. But at some point she will look for my approval, not find it because she is wanting to do something we do not find acceptable, but she'll still go about her actions anyway based on decisions she makes and reasons she will try to justify. My approval won't rate nearly as high as it does least outwardly. And at some point I will look to her for approval, but she won't give it as freely because she'll be more concerned about the approval of her peers than the approval of her parents as she becomes her own person.

So much of parenting is outright fun, but so much of it is downright bittersweet.


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