Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Learning to Struggle.

Lately I've gauged how my days are going by the number of quiet crackers Alice eats.  Quiet cracker is the name I've given to these little mushy rice crackers that Alice loves to gobble up.  Two quiet crackers is an easy day.  Five?  A bit more difficult.  That little cracker gives me approximately four and a half minutes to finish up whatever I am doing.  To empty the dishwasher.  To throw the wash into the dryer.  To snap a few more photos while out on a walk.  To eat my breakfast with both hands!!  Call it bribery.  Call it genius.  I call it four and a half minutes of certainty.  Plus I am pretty sure it helps with her dexterity.

One thing that has been difficult for me as Alice gets older is watching her struggle with something.  She drops her toy within her reach and I pick it up and hand it back to her.  She gets frustrated on her tummy and I flip her over even though she can roll both ways by herself.  She puts her pacifier in upside down and I reach to fix it.  Instead of letting her figure it out, I tend to want to do it for her.  The new mother in me sees my baby struggling with something and my instinct is to immediately fix it for her.  But what does this teach her?  How will she learn if I am constantly doing all the things she finds difficult?

I'm sure that I am over-thinking the impact my helping could have on her development.  But maybe I'm not.  The last few days I've watched her as she has struggled with something and, mostly, she figures it out on her own.  That is, if I would just let her.  That's hard for me.  I think it's the oldest child in me that just knows I can do it better/faster/easier than my younger siblings so I just want to do it so they don't have to.  Or, more likely, I just wanted to do it so that I didn't have to wait for them to do whatever they were struggling with.  Either way, it is something I am working on as I spend my days raising our daughter.

As much as I'd like to remove all the struggles from Alice's life, I know that is impossible.  So I am learning to let go and to let her figure out this great big world all by herself.  Bit by bit. 

Because Mom won't always be there to help fix whatever she is struggling with.  And that is perfectly okay.

And, thankfully, my husband comes home tonight.  Those bowls of cereal and cheese and crackers for dinner are getting a bit old.  Since I still don't like cooking for one, I don't think my stomach has seen a vegetable since he left.  I'm working on that...



  1. It's funny that you post this, because I was just thinking about how I might be interfering with my daughters struggles-turned-learning experiences. I just want to fix it for her so she's not so frustrated, but I have to stop myself, because, like you said, Mom won't always be there.

  2. A trick I use for eating for one is whenever I make soup I freeze a single serving of it, or two of them. That way if my husband is working late I can just pop it into a bowl and microwave it.

    Makes it really easy and for this time of year it's great to have warm food.

  3. It's ok to give a little help or give a little nudge to get her going. Just not all the time.

    When you were a child, you wanted to do everything by yourself and basically refused to let me help you. Oh, I'm sure there were a few things that you asked for help or cried to get me to help you. But overall you "liked to be in control".

    When your little sister came along, you were very protective of her. You helped her sit up, roll over, you helped her do most everything, You even interpreted her garbled baby talk and would tell me what she was saying. To this day, your little sister will still let other people help her out....

    So, in hind sight, let your little one struggle a bit to learn how to do things on her own. Sometimes being more independent is good. xoxo

  4. You are so right. It 's really difficult to let them struggle when you can do it quickly, but it os how they learn. I would like to think I'm better at it the second time around, but I'm probably about the same.
    And I am jealous of quiet crackers! We will be thhere in a few months.

  5. Quiet crackers is a hilarious name for those rice crackers- I love it! Even now it's hard to sit back and let my guy struggle. I imagine it get easier with more kids :)

  6. I love the "quiet crackers" theme! You are too funny.

    Also, I know what you mean with trying to help or intervene. I think if you pause just a little bit longer than you are comfortable with, then she still needs help, dive on in. I find that that pause can make such a huge difference. A little frustration is a good thing! And I have noticed that my third little boy is so much more capable at doing things on his own, probably in part because I just can't always jump up and help immediately. I honestly think he's the happiest of the bunch, too!

  7. As I read this, I just helped Lulu, who was struggling to roll over. IT is so hard not to help & just let them do things for themselves.

    I'm going to have to try these quiet crackers, I've seen them in the supermarket. They sound magic.
    Alice looks adorable in that hoodie in the last photo. So cute.


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