And I'll tell you why...because I've got this little person tagging along with me everywhere. Nothing more than that simple statement. Everyday is something new and exciting to her, and I love to see that look of total awe come across her face when she does or sees something for the first time. Never have I met a human being with such a happiness about her ALL the time. My favorite thing lately is that she is developing a sense of humor. Earlier we got to laughing so hard at each other for no reason except that we were happy. How awesome is that?
I want to make her into a strong, independent, fearless girl--and it's kind of daunting to know that how she turns out rests on my shoulders. Last night there was a little boy ahead of us at the Dairy Queen being held by his mother. He was about 4, and he was being a brat. His mom was looking at the menu and he grabbed her face in a very violent way to make her look at some kind of dessert that he wanted. She just let this behavior go without a blink of an eye. Then he threw a fit when they gave him white milk instead of chocolate--again, no reprimand--just gave him what he was yelling for. I looked at Joe and thought--no way, I'd have her butt back in our truck and we'd be hashing it out before she could even think about throwing the fit in the first place. I know all of you are saying, "Oh Julia, you say that now, but..." No buts--I help to raise my nephew a bunch when he was younger and he'd be the first to tell you that I didn't let him get away with bad behavior. I was called "Mean Old Aunt Ju-June" all the time, HOWEVER, you ask him who his favorite person was and he'd say me...so it's not like I was evil or anything. I just have a high expectation level for kids. I'm strict but fair.
I was reading a forum yesterday about Exer-Saucers and one woman called it the "Ring of Neglect" and wanted other women to add their opinions. It amazed me how many moms out there feel guilty for not constantly interacting with their child. To me, it's not your job to entertain your kid. Joe has happily played by herself a portion of every day since she was just a couple of months old. I feel no guilt in putting her down on the floor or in her playpen and getting things done around the house. She's happy, she's got a clean diaper, she's been fed, she's fine.
I've had people comment on her ability to keep herself occupied at such a young age--and I'm proud that she doesn't need me all the time. Don't get me wrong--we play together and interact a lot throughout the day, but I give her space as well. It does us both some good. To hear the mothers in that forum talk though, I'd be considered a bad mom. What do you want to make a bet that a bunch of their kids will be like the kid ahead of me at the Dairy Queen? Kids don't have to wait for anything anymore--it's just instant gratification--hell some adults are just as spoiled, but I don't think Joe is going to have it that easy.
I think that is the benefit of being a farm kid--to start she's not going to get everything she WANTS (a) because we are fairly poor, and (b) she's a kid and kids are flaky, but she will have everything she NEEDS. She'll help us on the farm and around the house with chores as soon as she's able. She'll be responsible for her own livestock someday and she'll reap the profits from it. Also, she'll be helping us to raise our own food in the garden and from the livestock and that will teach her patience and that work really does pay off. In turn she'll grow into a sensible adult (I hope).
Most of all this kid is teaching me a lot too. She's made me slow down a TON. I see all the small wonders in the every day. I always put her before myself. I savor every laugh and smile she gives me. So as I'm trying to raise her into a well rounded adult she is sanding off my rough edges too. It's a pretty neat process. I'm so glad that Mike and I decided to have a baby--and I'm even more glad that the baby we had is such a beautiful and amazing little girl.