The Polish grandparents and T1
While in Poland I think I held T1 in my arms for about 45 minutes. Total. I didn’t change a single diaper or mix any bottles of formula. We slept on the ground floor while he slept on the 2nd and was cared for by my in-laws. I left him behind from Wednesday-Friday to go to Vienna with That Husband. Saturday morning we left him at the house at 11 am and we didn’t return until 11 am on Sunday after the wedding was over.
Basically it was an entire week of a baby free lifestyle. I realized on the plane ride home that I wouldn’t go back and wait a few more years to have kids though, that life with him is so much more fulfilling than life without him, but that isn’t the point of this post.
So many of the things that we freak out about don’t really matter that much. Safety, as defined in the most universal of terms, is certainly paramount, but there are so many areas that we’ve deemed as “the only way to raise a child” that just… aren’t. I think anyone who has seen the Babies movie can attest to that.
While in Poland T1 slept on a mat on the floor of the living room. They gave him some type of tea that they say all Polish babies drink. They started feeding him solids (Gerber purée from a jar). They dressed him in the craziest combinations and put his socks on inside out (I’m slightly crazy about what he wears and how he wears it). They arranged a babysitter for the wedding that he spent a day and a night alone with who I never even spoke to (she only spoke Polish).
And yet, T1 was happier than I’ve ever seen him! He had attention from adoring grandparents 24/7. They made up little games with him, took him for walks, and if That MIL and I walked in the room together I swear he was more excited to see her!
Grandchildren are truly the best possible gift you can give your own parents. I came to understand this when I saw the way my own father interacted with T1, but it was cemented in my mind during our time in Poland. They adored T1. It was love at first sight. The infatuation knew no bounds. Giving up the control over how T1 was introduced to solids? Definitely worth it to see the joy they experienced in providing him with food and watching his excitement grow regarding this delicious new element in his life.
I consider myself to be one of the most relaxed parents I know, but this trip definitely tested my boundaries. I had to evaluate what I was okay with, and if I wasn’t okay with something I was forced to work through the issue and decide whether the situation in question would be worth possibly damaging my (awesome) relationship with TH’s family. During the trip I couldn’t think of a single change to their childcare style that would qualify as critical to the future health and happiness of T1, and so I worked to embrace the uniqueness of the Polish (grand)parenting style.
There are certainly areas where I won’t compromise. T1 will be raised in an LDS household, with all that that entails. If you tried to feed him a Happy Meal I’d probably tackle you to the ground. I fought my family regarding the use of a pacifier, which I’m still glad I did because we are very happy that we will never have to break that habit. So yeah, I understand having areas that are important to you.
There is this attitude I see popping up all over the mommy blogs and parenting forums though. It’s MY baby and they can see him when I feel like it and no one but ME knows how to raise my child.
I swear the most common phrase on the mommy blogs is “you do what works best for your family”. If there are so many individual ways that work, how are all of these women I read about so sure that they are the only one qualified to do good for their child? T1 surprises me every single day. He is growing and changing incredibly fast and he is far from a static creature with predictable wants and needs. What worked yesterday might not work tomorrow and it’s very likely that grandma or grandpa or aunt so-and-so have exactly the solution you’re looking for.
I think that this self-assured attitude of independence is a product of the Internet generation. Before the printing press women didn’t even have books to find the answers to their questions! They used their family and friends to find the answers to their questions and though I’m sure there were numerous frustrations when mom just wouldn’t let it go, I imagine that the bond that developed through this communal parenting style was a priceless link through the generations. Now if I need help? I ask Uncle Google. 1 million hits later I might have an answer, but Uncle G doesn’t find the same joy in meeting your needs that your MIL will feel when she had the chance to impart some of her hard-earned wisdom.
I stepped out of my helicopter. I didn’t even know that I had one, but in certain areas I was hovering a little too close and this trip served as a nice wake-up call. Still no pacifiers or Happy Meals to be found, but inside-out socks and pureed plums from a tiny little jar? I can handle that.
Give the people around you the chance to be the village that helps raise your child.