Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Step Parenting... A Parenting Step

My husband and I have half legal custody of his son. Therefore, according to the minimum requirements of the Indiana Parenting Guidelines, we have him every other weekend and once a week day. Today we had him and he ended up sleeping over. Which is great! However, the poor lil’ guy was sick.

See, all is well when Daddy is around. Daddy makes him feel better. But after Daddy goes to work…it’s up to the step mommy. Usually we play, finger paint, eat, color, read, and just do the regular kid stuff. This time though, cold symptoms interfered…coughing, runny nose, sneezing, and a horrible no good very bad case of the grumpies too.

Let me remind you that I am a new step-mommy and I have no experience with sick children. I am also so worried what he is going to think about me because let me tell you, I care about what that 3 year old thinks...I want to be "worlds best step-mommy" and I want a mug that proves it! It isn't easy knowing you are already in line behind the real mommy, you're 2nd best. Nothing in life prepares you for step-parenting except step-parenting itself. And today, well it wore me out for one, but it also made my step-mommy hood snap into a reality check.

Between the little crying fits because he doesn’t feel well and the nasally speech, I had to nurture him and act like I enjoyed cleaning up snot. I had to show him twice as much attention because he just wanted to be comforted, which all around actually made him feel better. And he asked for more of me… I was his medicine.

As the night ended, he felt worse. And then, I started to sneeze. “Great,” I thought, “Now I am going to get sick too and I am pregnant and blah blah blah….” So, I threw a mini temper tantrum of my own. And for a second, I wished that I had someone to wipe my nose and give me medicine and make my dinner and scratch my back…it took me back to my childhood days where I remembered how good my mom was to me when I was sick. The little things she did like putting a wet wash-rag over my forehead, or singing to me, or rocking me, or reading to me, or making sure all the bubbles were out of my ginger-ale… made me feel 90% better. And then it hit me. I just took a parenting step.

Even though I am his new step-mommy and he is my step-son, I play the “mother” role…which I knew. However, he was calling for me like he does for his daddy or for his mommy. He wanted his step-mommy to make him feel better. He was actually treating me like a mommy! And then I felt it… the feeling of being more than a step-mom to him…I am mother material and he can sense I love him and care about him. I felt like he just allowed me to take a huge step up the parenting ladder, almost all the way to the top.

And I hate to fall down a ring, but in all reality, he is only preparing me for poopy diapers, puke running down my shirt, and restless nights with my own baby when she is born in June. Which once again, I have no experience in that field what so ever… but whether I am step-mommy or just plain mommy, I will still do my duties and buy nose plugs and rubber gloves to prepare for the worst!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Nesting Vs. Nurturing

As I am now hitting my 5th month of pregnancy, I have been told, because of the imbalance of hormones during pregnancy and the excitement of the daily countdown until baby comes, women tend to “nest” or prepare for the baby. After researching on many pregnancy sites, which is becoming a common practice of mine, I have found that nesting is defined as, “Around the fifth month of pregnancy, the "nesting" instinct can set in. This is an uncontrollable urge to clean one's house brought on by a desire to prepare a nest for the new baby, to tie up loose ends of old projects and to organize your world. Nesting brings about some unique and seemingly irrational behaviors in pregnant women and all of them experience it differently.”

Now, here is my problem with nesting. As women, don’t we naturally do this even when we are not pregnant? For instance, when you are going to have company over or a party/get together at your house, do you not clean and prepare your home (nest) for the newcomers? Do we as women prepare and organize on instinct because we are taught to think ahead and that preparing and organizing only makes things run smoother when the actual event occurs, whatever the event may be? I believe we do, and, I believe that the nesting instinct, when applied to pregnancy, is just another marketing tool to persuade pregnant women into thinking they need or want certain materialistic things for the baby.

The second problem I have with the above “nesting definition” is the word irrational. It simply states that nesting brings about some unique and seemingly irrational behaviors…really? What about it is considered irrational? In my world, which sometimes I am told I live in one of my own, irrational means un-logical. What is not logical about preparing for something that is about to happen? If we as women do not prepare for a life changing experience, who will prepare us? Who will calm us down when stress sky rockets because we were not prepared or should I say because we did not nest?

So, in conclusion, I do not believe nesting is a good defining word to use. In all reality, some people even nest or prepare/organize when they get a pet. EVEN MEN!!! When men get ready to build something, they prepare their working environment (the garage) by organizing their tools or building supplies. They clean their work area and they even buy new supplies or tools when needed to make it easier on themselves. Or if a man gets a dog, he might buy pet food, a cage, a leash, a toy, dog bowl, etc. Point made yet? Everyone NESTS! Although, I do believe that it isn’t "nesting" that we do, however, it is an act of nurturing and women are natural nurturers. Humans’ instinct is to nurture or organize to create order so we are not unbalanced. So, why pick on pregnant women and say it’s an irrational act to prepare for what is to come?

So, bring on the baby stuff. I am ready to put up a crib, decorate the room, hang up her clothes, and organize all the baby supplies. Why do I wish to do so now, in my fifth month? Because of "nesting"? NO!! Because I finally am realizing how hard it is to bend and move with a belly, and by the rate of which my belly is growing, organizing and preparing a room will be a lot more uncomfortable and tiresome in the 3rd trimester. Women logically make things easier for themselves, we even nurture ourselves!! I believe SOMEONE came up with nesting only for an excuse of why women feel like this during pregnancy, where I see it as pure logic, others see it as nesting, and an irrational uncontrollable act. Must have been a man that defined it, or for mans sake, perhaps it’s only a play on words, double speak, to make pregnant women feel the desire to over consume baby gadgets and gismos.

Call me mother hen or whatever you will, I am only (nesting) nurturing and organizing the atmosphere for my child that is about to be brought into this world because my time will be limited to do so when she arrives. And that, my friends, is pure logic.