My daughter has turned two. The week, the very week that her little internal age clock clicked over to two years her behavior nosedived. Suddenly the routines that we have been doing for months are negotiable.
"That was the last story, it's naptime. Walk over to your crib."
"I don't want naptime," and she flops down on the ground, whining.
I know these are little stabs at controlling her own world, when she still has so little control of what happens to her or really understanding of what happens.
This afternoon we got out of the car and Scott started unloading easels, boxes, and paintings that I had taken to a craft fair the night before. I pick up a box or two and try to guide Emma over to the staircase that leads up to our apartment. She has begun to attempt to pick up one of my easels; a wooden box that is larger and weighs more than she does. In my attempts to gently guide her away she kept running away from me, screaming like I had threatened to sell her to the gypsies, and our usual walk up the stairs turned into boneless mess. I picked her up and walked up the three flights of stairs, hefting my pregnant weight, two boxes of art supplies, and a twenty pound child who was doing her best imitation of a dying manatee.
At the top of stairs she melted into a wailing puddle. We were heading out to go for a walk and her diaper needed to be changed, so the wailing puddle got her diaper changed. These are the moments that are the hardest for me as a parent. I know that I am making the best choice for my child but she is making it completely difficult for me. These are the moments when I go into what I think of as 'nurse mode.' The place where you set your jaw and plow through and do what you need to do. It's not pretty.
So in this moment Scott comes in kneels on the floor beside her distraught little face and eventually gets her to laugh and giggle.
This is usually another bad parenting moment for me, where I compare myself to my husband. That I think that he is a better parent than me, for being more patient, more fun, or just more anything.
We got back down the stairs and were on our way to the park; Scott had enticed Emma to walk, instead of just being pushed in the stroller. I walked ahead of them and occasionally turned back to see my daughter holding hands with her daddy, as they walked and marveled at leaves and other suburban wonders. I could feel the low thoughts of comparing myself to my husband rise in the back of my head just like bile rising in the back of my throat. I don't get her to walk like that, after a few feet she just usually asks to be carried. Which has led to moments of ridiculousness where I am carrying her in one arm and pushing the stroller with the other hand.
As I looked back at the grin on her face I let it go. I think I compare myself to him and always make myself lose because I am so afraid that he might be judging me and thinking that I am not making good decisions with Emma. After all she is his daughter too. I think that I have to realise that he trusts me too, just like I trust him. In those few moments I decided to enjoy my husband for the way that he parents. His ability to be patient when I am not. His ability to find fun in every day activities. His ability to allow her to do challenging things when I am scared.
I try not to nag at him or fuss at him when he parents differently from me. I am not always successful. The balance between being a united front and allowing the other person to care for your child as who they are is one we are still finding as a couple. We will never get it perfect. Hopefully at the end of the day Emma will still know that we love her.