Parenting Means Not Giving Up

The other day, despite his protests, I knew Jacob needed a nap. He probably knew it too, but just didn’t want to believe it. I understand how he feels—I don’t really like napping either, unless I’m exhausted. There are too many fun things to do in a day. And especially if you’ve just learned a new trick like walking, lying down and resting seems, at first glance, like a waste of time.

But prudent mama that I am, I know that often when the morning nap goes out the window, the rest of the day goes with it. Somehow I possessed a strange calm, one I’m only beginning to get used to, one that I think might come from confidence in my role as a mother. Though Jacob was crying and rustling around in my arms, that calm allowed me to keep a just-firm-enough hold on him, rock him, and sing to him, as per our routine.

After four rounds of all five verses (that I know, at least) of “Amazing Grace,” he was asleep. I managed to put him down and he got a full nap in. A few weeks earlier, I might not have had the persistence to sing the whole song four times. A few months earlier, I know I wouldn’t have. I would have been frustrated that what I was doing wasn’t working and would have simply put him down, hoping he’d cry for just a few minutes and manage to get to sleep by himself.

It’s probably mostly a result of my getting more sleep now than I did in the earlier months with Jacob, but I am finding that I have more trust in myself these days. I know Jacob pretty well, and generally have a good sense of what he needs and how to offer it to him, even if he doesn’t think he agrees.

In the first half of his life, I took a lot of cues from the little guy. I figured he knew what he needed better than I did. And at that point, I’d never cared for a newborn before, and he was functioning on needs, not wants. Now, as the wants are filtering in amongst the needs, I have a different job as his mother. I need to use my judgment to determine what’s best for him, still incorporating whatever he can communicate to me, when it’s appropriate.

Sometimes that means doing what he doesn’t want to do. Sometimes that means I’m not going to be his favorite person on the planet. Sometimes I’m going to have to stand my ground. Sometimes it’s going to be sheer willpower concealing doubt that I’m totally botching something.

But that’s okay. Because, as my friend Cristina would say, I am the mother. God gave me to him and him to me for a reason. If my heart is always in the right place—and with God’s grace and Mary’s intercession it will be—I have hope that these moments will always end, as they did the other day, with a happy, healthy, and holy little boy resting peacefully in my arms.

P.S. Can someone please volunteer to read this post back to me when Jacob’s about fifteen?

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One Comment to “Parenting Means Not Giving Up”

  1. I volunteer! As long as we still can have Jacob playdates until then!!

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