Monday, December 07, 2009

Learning from a Toddler--and Losing Inhibitions -- by Jamie

While I’ve always been a rather social person—and a very talkative one at that—I’ve never been overly-confrontational. Or even a very outspoken person when I’m in public, or interacting with strangers. And I certainly possess my share of inhibitions. But having a child has brought countless changes to my life, including giving me the guts to say or do many things I wouldn’t have done before I had Jayda.

I adore the fact that my 2-1/2-year-old daughter is completely uninhibited. She loves to take off her clothes in the house and, as she calls it, “be a naked baby.” She struts around with her belly sticking out, and could care less about who’s watching her. As a woman who’s suffered through years of disordered eating in the past, I find it lovely to see someone who has absolutely no body image issues. Jayda does happen to be a beautiful child, but it’s liberating to know that fat or thin, pretty or not, Jayda gives no thought to what she looks like, and certainly doesn’t stress over what she eats. She’s comfortable in her own skin. We should all be so lucky.

Best of all, Jayda loves to belt out the words to songs she knows (even when those words are all garbled and wrong)—whether we’re alone or in public. Personally, even with a couple of martinis in my bloodstream, I’ve never had the guts to sing karaoke, and I marvel at my daughter’s chutzpa. She dances with abandon, says whatever is on her mind, and doesn’t think twice about questioning anything and everything (and anyone and everyone!). True, she’s a toddler and knows no better. But I find her actions quite enviable.

Fortunately, being a mom to Jayda has changed my personality, too. Because I discovered it’s important to talk to your children to foster their speech development, even when Jayda was only an infant, I chatted constantly with her in public. When Jayda was not yet talking, I uttered endless monologues to her, and now, I engage her in complex conversations out loud—sometimes quite loudly—in public places like the supermarket, the doctor’s waiting room, and even the library. And when Jayda asks me to join her in singing a song, I oblige. I’ve also been known to spin around in circles with her—or do a jig with her in the middle of a crowd (and I’m someone who has always had two left feet). Being with a child can definitely bring out the child in you—as well as a child’s lack of inhibitions.

Before I became a mom, there were many times when I felt intimidated by authority figures and didn’t speak up about things that bothered me…or times when I was a bit shy about asking for something I needed. That’s not true anymore—especially when it comes to Jayda. When I need an emergency appointment at the pediatrician’s office, attention given to a problem Jayda’s having at daycare, or am bothered by a myriad of other things whose resolutions are important to my child’s well-being, I’ve developed a very big mouth. I’ll pursue important people, confront troublemakers, and even insist on changes being made where they’ve never been made before, if doing so will improve my daughter’s life. And I’ll do so with absolutely no hesitation. Just as a momma bear is protective of her little cub, so am I: I’ll growl at anyone who puts my child in harm’s way. It’s a gift Jayda’s given me…and I’m doing my best to use it as much as I can.

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Blogger Cara Meyers said...

I think all Mama lionesses will fight to protect their cubs! I advocated for my son's medical issues so hard this past year, it almost ended my marriage. A young child can't advocate for themselves. That's where us Mama lionesses step in!

9:39 PM  

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