Mother stay positive to fill gaps in parenting

November 17, 2011|Amy Dulebohn

How many times can I say it — my daughter amazes me.

At little older than a 1 1/2 , she is so intelligent, so intuitive. Sometimes I think she has a better perception of the world around her than I do.

Mostly, it's all good. However, while fighting sleep one night, she bit me. This is a behavior that we have worked very hard to curtail in the year since she sprouted her first tooth. We have met with much success in doing so, although, on occasion, she will relapse and sink her tiny, pearly-white teeth into my flesh.

As is par for the course, after she bit me, I fussed her and she started to cry. Almost on cue, her grandmother appeared and asked her what was wrong. "Mommy, ouch," she replied between sobs.

"Oh, did Mommy hurt you?" my mother asked.

"Uh, no," I interjected quickly, "She bit me and she is crying because she hurt me and feels bad about it."

While I responded brusquely to my mother's query, I was struck by my daughter's response and my own ability to pick up on how she went about expressing herself.

A few evenings later, she and I went to a department store with some friends, including one who has a 7-month-old son. My daughter sat proudly in the front of the shopping cart while the young boy reclined in the cart, secured in his carseat. The baby was fighting a cold, and coughed gently a few times.

My daughter whipped around, looked at the infant and asked, her soft voice rich with concern, "You OK, baby?" I was touched.

I have written before about my toddler's intricate role-play, including her ability to "mother" her dolls in a manner almost identical to the way I relate to her, Now, as she is a little older, she is using her skills to relate to humans, and I couldn't be more proud.

From the time she was in utero and I was facing the cold reality of becoming a single parent, I have worried about how to model good, positive behavior and fill the role of both parents. And while I try to relax and not obsess over this, it's an ongoing concern.  

Earlier this week after she had her bath, she was waiting to get out of the tub, and was quite clear in her wishes. "Want out, Mommy!"

I was distracted, making sure the bathmat was in place and the bathroom floor was safe to lift her out, and did not respond to her, so she employed a new tactic, "Want o-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-t!" she screamed.

I stopped short, turned to her, addressed her and said, "Remember, we don't yell."

Her defiant glare softened as she looked at me and replied softly, "Want out, Mommy."

"Please," I reminded her.

"Pleeeeassssse!" she squealed and began impatiently jumping up and down in the tub.

Perhaps I should've quit while I was ahead.

The battle continues, but with patience and practice, hopefully I will win the war.

First-time mother Amy Dulebohn is a page designer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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