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Thursday, October 27, 2005

And it hits me

that I am Olivia's mom. The kind of adult she will become depends on the parenting that I give her. The childhood that she enjoys (or doesn't always enjoy) depends on the environment I raise her in.

She is one. She's a very big girl-- well not in size, but in personality -- and she has wants. I am realizing that I no longer have a baby in my arms, but a toddler who is testing her boundaries.

She has two kinds of boundaries. Her most limiting are her own personal boundaries. She still needs me to be around. She comes up to grab my legs while I cook or wash dishes. She heaps on the floor if I walk towards the door without her. She nurses when she's hungry or upset. She can't function without living inside her own boundaries.

The second set of boundaries Olivia is subject to are the boundaries that Rob and I enforce on her. Honestly, there really aren't that many of them. But the ones we have, we do our best to keep. My best example, and the most familiar to our readers since I've shared my woes in this area frequently, is how I respond to her in the middle of the night.

I know that people wake in the night. Of course they do, I do, older kids do, so Olivia will as well. My rule (though I've never told her the rule) is that I will come to her in the night if she wakes up and needs me. I will stay and help her fall back asleep either by nursing or rocking, but we will not get down on the floor, and we will not leave the room. Sometimes she points to the door, and I have to say, "No, it is night time." This consistent, but reasonable boundary has made it easier for all of us, even though it was really hard to get there in the first place. Olivia isn't afraid to go back to sleep because she has learned to trust that I will be there if she ever needs me. And I have learned to go quickly and patiently (at least most nights) because she gets scared at night, and all she needs is a little mom love.

Rob has learned to sleep though it.

When I started this post I had some deep theological connection that I intended to make. Something about the constancy of God, and how His laws are a curb to us. But since I wake up once a night, it is after 10:30 I can't remember what that original connection was.

All I can come up with is: Wow. Olivia is really big. And this isn't getting any simpler. But I keep learning how to love her more.