Though I do not prefer it, I can certainly admit if I’ve been wrong. Ideally, I avoid being wrong in the first place. But I’m not perfect. So this blog is to admit that, when it comes to parenting Emmalee, I am doing it wrong. Perhaps I’m not doing it all wrong. Something, though, just isn’t working the way it should. Something is not clicking. I am running into obstacles that I don’t know how to overcome. Maybe I should explain.
Yesterday Emmalee officially became 13 months old. This caused me to panic in a way that Emmalee’s 12 month milestone didn’t quite affect me. At her last well check up, I was informed by the doctor that Emma should be done with bottles and on whole milk by fifteen months. But that was three full months away. I still had plenty of time to deal with my obstinate child. Yesterday, though, marked the passage of an entire month. It hit me hard because it seems as though the month has passed without me really noticing it at all. Didn’t we just have Emma’s party? Where did the time go?
And now I have only two months to come up with some sort of plan and implement it. My first goal: to get Emma to hold her own bottle. My second goal: to get Emma to drink from a sippy cup. And my third, least important, goal: to get Emma to drink whole milk. These might not sound like complicated projects. For me, though, they feel like epic battles that I must win. I am in a war, the enemy being my darling child. I must conquer her, for both our sakes; I must figure out a way to be the victor in “The Sippy Cup Standoff.”
I just don’t know how to begin. I am not a war strategist. I am not even a very experienced mom. For all my bravado and confident talk, I honestly don’t have a clue what I’m doing. To others, it might not sound like such a big deal. If you want her to hold her own bottle, just stop holding it for her, you might be thinking. But you are not the one who would then have to face her anger, her tears, her uncomprehending disappointment as she stares up at me with her heartbroken, hazel eyes, choking on her food because her own mother won’t help her to get a drink. How could I be so cruel?
I know I am being dramatic. Maybe I’m in denial about where Emma gets that from. I am unsure why it is that I am able to make Emmalee “cry it out” alone in her crib at night but all attempts at tough love fly out the window once dawn breaks. Maybe it is because in the night I don’t have to face her. I can stay on the other side of the wall, pretending that I’m sure about what I’m doing, without having to see the anguish in her eyes. But during the day, with my inadequacies lit brightly by the sun, I just don’t have the heart to make Emma suffer. I baby her and coddle her in ways I never would have imagined myself being capable of prior to her existence. I think it is safe to say that I am in serious trouble.
With my deadline looming just over the horizon, my anxiety over the issue is skyrocketing. I just can’t slink back into the pediatrician’s office in June and have to face Emma’s doctor with news of my utter failure at being a mother. Even Babycenter.com doesn’t seem to have the answer on this one. I have read their article. I have tried the Do’s and avoided the Don’ts, but with no luck. All I seem to have is more questions. Is it important to first make Emma hold her own bottle? Maybe I should just remove all the bottles, stick a sippy cup in front of her and insist that she make both changes at once? But what if the suddenness of that approach traumatizes her? What if she gets dehydrated? What if I cause her to develop issues with food? With trust? With control? What if I damage her somehow for the rest of her life because of making the wrong decision now? There is entirely too much pressure in parenting.
Maybe the answer is just to relax. Maybe I’m making it too big of a deal. I kind of have the feeling that, if given enough time, I will emerge victoriously from this standoff. After all, I doubt she’ll want to pack a bottle in her lunch box on the first day of school. But it is hard to ignore both the doctor’s advice and the looks I get from people out in public. It would be nice if other people would just mind their own business and keep their hostile judgments off their faces… but then, to be fair, it probably does look like I’m holding up a bottle for a two year old since Emma is such a big girl. And how much time am I willing to give her? What if she is two and still won’t budge on the issue? I just don’t see myself being able to relax anytime soon.
So the standoff continues. I will report back when there is more to share.