Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Reigning in the Mama Bear
These past five weeks have been exhausting, joyous, chaotic, delightful, overwhelming, wonderful, surprising, and challenging.
In short, it’s been an adjustment for all of us.
My commitment to non-punitive parenting is meeting some new challenges. For example, how to respond when C hurts or even almost hurts Baby Z.
I’ve had a few chances to refine my response, but there is still room for improvement.
The first incident was about two weeks ago, and the mama bear in me came out full force.
C threw a hard plastic baby doll at us while Z was nursing.
It glanced off my arm but nearly hit Z in the head.
“That hurt me and could have really hurt Z! Look, the doll’s head is hard and it hurts when it hits.” To illustrate my point, I grabbed the doll and whacked the head against C’s arm. “See, it hurts!”
She cried out in pain and surprise.
A few moments later, I realized my mistake and apologized.
“C, I made a mistake. I thought it would help you understand what you almost did to Z to hit you with the doll. But hitting hurts and it was wrong of me to hit you. Do you forgive me?”
She did, and we hugged and moved forward with our day.
Still, the next time she got too rough with Z a few days later, I again acted out my impulse to respond in kind before I had time to stop and think of a better response.
She had pinched him or pulled his hair and so I reached out and did the same to her while saying, “How would you like it if…”
Again I quickly apologized, she quickly forgave, and we moved on.
I responded differently to the latest incident. DH was holding Z and C was kissing his feet. Then she started sucking on Z's toes. DH made a joke about her eating him up.
Cue Z screaming out in pain.
“Did you bite him?” DH and I both asked in loud urgent voices. C began to cry.
Since DH was comforting Z, I scooped C up in my arms and moved her away from the scene. I cuddled her to my chest and didn't say anything at first.
"Why are you sad, mama?" C asked as she calmed down.
I softly replied that I was sad that Z was hurt and sad that she had hurt him.
A few minutes later, I nursed Z and examined him. Sure enough, there were tooth marks on the side of his foot. Fortunately, the skin was not broken.
Upon reflection, I’m not quite satisfied with this response either. Sure, it was a victory to not bite her or be rough with her in any way, but I don’t like the “you made mama sad” angle either. It strikes me as manipulative and unhealthy if used long-term.
But, hey, I’ve only been at this mom-of-two thing for five weeks. It’s a step forward to not seek physical revenge on my child. I’m determined to keep learning and improving as a mom as we grow together as a family.