When they placed Bree on my stomach right after she was born I looked at her and thought, "Wait, really? This is my baby. Are you sure?" After we brought her home I thought she was fantastic and so sweet but it wasn't till she started to grow up a bit and I could see her little soul, her personality, that I began to love her. And I am talking real love not I love chocolate and the beach and sleeping in. :)
So naturally I want to make her happy because I love her and she is the most adorable, fun, silly thing that I have ever loved. I play with her, I wake up in the night to feed and comfort her, I wake up in the morning when she does, I cancel plans when she isn't feeling well, I give up my own wants to meet her needs. I sacrifice my silly desires to make her life wonderful and to make her feel safe and secure.
That kind of caring is easy. Don't get me wrong it can be extremely draining but it is simple. Love baby by meeting baby's needs and you have one happy baby. It is simple, usually very clear cut and pretty immidiatly rewarding.
Bree will be eight month old in a couple weeks and it seems that loving her is not so easy now. She is still the most wonderful little person, but now meeting her needs does not always make her happy. Not I meet resistance in my quest to takecare of those pesky needs.
She wants to explore. She wants cat food, toilets, dishes, power cords . . . . the list goes on. And I must tell her that these things are not for her and she does not like that.
She needs sleep and being the active little tyke she is, she is not interested in naps. So I must leave her in her crib and let her cry so that she can learn how to nap on her own. Loving her makes her temporarily (and sometimes for half an hour or more when she is fighting a nap) very unhappy.
In the long run loving her will make her a happy, alive child and these are serious incentives.
This kind of loving behavior has a down side: the pain it causes me to hear her cry, have her look at me with those tear filled eyes, and the panicky feeling I get thinking she won't love me anymore if I make her take one more nap are selfish reason not to take care of my girl the way she needs.
I can feel myself turning a corner here. I am becoming a real parent, a real mom. I am understanding tough love and thinking that it is probably called that because in the beginning (for the tender hearted selfish lovers like me) it is so tough to love that way! I want to be the one to make her smile I want to fill her life with toys and hugs and out door adventures. I don't want to be the enforcer of naps and safety rules and behavior modification. But if I indulged my selfish desires I would have a crazy, dirty, aggressive, mischievous, exhausted, cranky, little monster.
Time to toughen up my love. Time to get real. *sigh*
Thanks to those Mom's in my life who have gone before me and survived to share your wisdom and support.