At a soccer party this weekend, one of the moms mentioned to me how great it is that kids are all different.
I tend to disagree.
Wouldn’t it be easier if they were all the same? From sleeping habits, to discipline, to eating, to activity levels; I felt like I had it all figured out with child #1. And all that information was turned on it’s head with child #2. Life as a mom would be easier if you could figure things out with the first baby and then the second baby just slid into those habits and comforts.
For example, a look (we call it “mommy eyebrows”) was all it would take to get Olivia back in line as a toddler. With Jackson it will take multiple timeouts, and the threat of “using my loud voice” before he’ll begrudgingly cooperate. All those gender-neutral toys I bought for Olivia and she happily played with? Jackson has no interest in most of them. Life as a mom would be so much easier if I could use mommy eyebrows and Wonder Pets Toys for both children.
So the saying “you’re not really a parent until you have 2 children” comes from the understanding that Olivia sleeping through the night at 6 weeks (and I thought I deserved credit for being a great sleep-trainer) has little to nothing to do with me. At the age of 2.5 Jackson still hates to sleep. They are different.
I think that is why I have trouble with this latest story making international headlines about the little boy who lived as a girl until the age of 4. It seems like his parents tried to make the best choice they could when they allowed *her to begin living as a *him.
I have so many questions about the things that led them to the conclusion that their child should be allowed to be called “he” and live as a boy. But my knowledge as a mom of 2 kids also makes me realize that no two kids are the same. And certainly the rules and expectations that I have set for mine may not work for their situation. Or they would work in a limited way until the teenage years with tension and unhappiness building all the while.
This family obviously knew they would be starting a HUGE conversation by sharing their child’s story with the world. They probably expected to be judged. And for me, that’s the best part of this story. Parents being real about their decision and putting themselves out there for the world to analyze.
At the end of the day, I think we all have to realize that we are going to judge one another as parents. (That’s true for even minor issues: some may judge my choice to let my child wear a too-big dog hat out into public, and that’s OK because I’ve assessed the situation and decided that it’s not worth the fight on a busy Monday morning. )
As parents we have to be confidant in our own decisions to withstand judgement from others and take it with a grain of salt. Don’t think of it as judging, think of it as starting a conversation. It’s how we prepare for the unknown. It forces us to think “what would I do if this was my child?”
In the back of my mind I hear the verse “judge not, lest ye be judged,” but I can’t help but think this a different parenting choice than I would make for a child as young as theirs. I wish the entire family happiness, health, and no regrets.
What do you think?