Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Independent Baby

I've been thinking a lot about how I want to raise Jack. I thought a lot about that before I had him, of course, but that was always along the lines of him being a child, and how I would react to certain things or what rules I'd have.

But having a baby makes you ask other questions, like when do I start on that path? And I think the answer I've been coming to is: as soon as possible.

For example, I want a child who can play independently. I do not envision myself as my son's manager of fun. I want to take him to the park and do as my mother did: sit on the sidelines and keep an eye out while he plays. I do not want to be one of those mothers who's actually on the playground with her child.

These days when I'm home with Jack, I try to let him sort out his own amusement as much as possible. Intermittently, I'll read him a story, pick him up and make him giggle, hand him toys, etc. But mostly, I put him on his play mat or in his bouncy seat or his jolly jumper. From there, I leave him to grab toys or roll over or bounce himself. He'll whine at me a little and I'll reassure him from where I'm sitting, and he'll go back to what he was doing.

Eventually, he'll let me know he's bored of whatever and I'll relocate him. And of course, he'll get hungry, so I'll feed him. And he naps every two hours. Between naps at some point, he'll go in my lap and we'll play together a little bit. But otherwise, the day is spent trying to encourage him to entertain himself.

And it's working, I think. I can take him places and he doesn't need me to fuss over him. I eat all my meals hot, something I was led to believe would not happen. I go to mom meet-ups and generally, I hold him in my lap and just converse with other women and he'll hang out and just listen to us talk. He'll squirm at some point and I'll put him in his stroller and he'll play with the toy attached in there and not fuss.

Either he is naturally a very mellow baby, which is totally possible, or he's learning to amuse himself. Maybe both. Right now I'm playing music on my laptop and he's in his bouncy chair just listening to it. Sometimes the Dude will play the guitar for him for up to a half hour and Jack will sit there and just watch, enthralled. I'm pretty impressed with his attention span.

I sometimes feel bad, though. I think it's hard not to internalize modern messages about "stimulation" and how motherhood is a "job". You can feel like you're supposed to always be doing something for your baby, playing with him, rocking him, talking to him, reading and so on. I've ignored these ideas because 1.  I don't think it's healthy for a child to be always reliant on others for entertainment, 2. rather than wean my child off of me as the play master, I'd rather not set myself up in that role in the first place, and 3. I know myself well enough to know I would never be able to keep up such a pace anyway.

I've been complimented on how relaxed my baby is. I've been told I'm lucky. And I totally am; I know this. But I wonder if I have any influence on the fact he's like this. I generally believe babies comes out of the womb the way they are, and his happy personality is his own. So I suppose what I'd like to know is if the way I care for him is helping create a mellow person, or if the way I take care of him is just naturally complimentary to the sort of person he is, perhaps due to similar personalities.

I'll likely never know the answer to that.



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