I visited a friend with a newborn the other day and we discussed the feeling of isolation that can come when you are home with a baby. The demands, the worries, the sleep deprivation, and the lack of social contact are intense on those first months, and I was lending support with as much listening (okay, and some advice) as I could. What I didn't want to tell her is that there are still moments when you have that overwhelming alone feeling.
I have some friends who know this feeling well. For whatever reason, your child may have an issue that puts them outside of the norm in one way or another. For some children, this is a more substantial challenge (like an obvious medical or developmental issue) and for others it may be something more subtle. Although the subtle issues with children may not be life threatening, they can still throw us newbie parents for a loop.
Lately, the issue that is making me feel alone and worried is LF's picky eating.
I should say first that LF has an incredibly stubborn (I mean independent! Assertive! Intelligent!) personality and this finickiness affects not only his food choices but also his choices about which room he plays in, which books he reads, whether he wants to go inside or outside, which direction we walk on the street, etc. The boy has an opinion about nearly everything. You also may remember that the beginning of his eating career did not go smoothly (breastfeeding disasters, medicated reflux until 9 months, and an unenthusiastic transition to solid foods).
Since we started solids, he has never been a kid to dive in head first with foods. He is very cautious about new foods in general. However, he used to eventually try something and add to his repertoire, even if it wasn't kale and quinoa. More like meatballs and chicken nuggets. I even have photographic evidence of him enjoying messy foods like pasta bolognese, which he currently won't touch. Now, it is rare for us to get him to try and like a new food, and even more rare for him to like something multiple times, and not just once. But, what has me most concerned is that over time, the number of foods he will eat has actually decreased. Foods he used to enjoy he is now refusing and the number of foods consumed overall is quite small. When I Google "toddler food ideas" I know instantly that he will refuse almost all of them. I am beginning to think his picky eating is now morphong into "problem eating."
But, it is really hard for me to tell what is a real issue with food, and what is he taking as an opportunity to assert his independence. I admit it - I get upset when he lets food fall out of his mouth or throws it on the floor. I get mad when he refuses things I know he likes, even when he is so hungry that he is going nuts. Sometimes I am more successful at being casual about all of that, and sometimes I lose it. But, he doesn't just do this with me. He also is difficult with his grandparents (who are his main caregivers during the school year) and his father. He can sometimes surprise us in social situations, but at home it seems to be the worst.
Then there is that alone part. It comes in when I see other mothers able to easily hand
their child a sandwich, which is then quickly devoured. Or, when I talk
about this issue with someone who responds with, "My child will eat
anything!! I can't keep enough food in the house!" I know every child
has *some* issue they are dealing with - sleep, behavior, whatever. This just happens to be LF's.
I just feel like there is something I am doing wrong with LF that is
making him so difficult at meal times. All I know is that something needs to change.
Am I creating a monster and having my emotion feed into his control issues? Or is there a real issue to push with my pediatrician? (We've discussed his pickiness before and they never seem very concerned.)
What parenting issue made you feel alone?