Gauging Normal in Parenthood


I invited some friends over for lasagna on Saturday because a) I was craving lasagna, b) I like having an excuse to invite friends over, and c) I like having an excuse to not eat an entire pan of lasagna myself. It was fun, but Boof noticed their little one eating everything on his high chair tray and was like “does he always eat whatever you put in front of him?” and when they answered that yes, he does, it made me suddenly think:

I have a high maintenance kid.

I have no doubt that there are things I could be doing ‘better’ to make my son ‘behave’ more or ‘comply’ more, and I lack the energy and wherewithal to follow through on that type of parenting course. But I also think…maybe…maybe…my kid might be high needs. Not high needs like special needs, but this is a kid who REFUSED for-the-love-of-God any form of milk from a bottle/sippycup/regular cup until he was about 2 (or at daycare). He nurses straight from the tap and he wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe I’m ‘spoiling’ him with all of this attachment parenting, but I also wonder…maybe my kid is just difficult in his adorably lovable sweet way.

He wants to sleep a particular way, and only eat particular foods when with us (and he’s picky at daycare, though less so), and watch particular shows and basically overall has his mama’s stubborn personality.

But he’s my only kid. So I have nothing to compare it to. And I’m not saying parenting him is easy, or that my friend who’s struggling with her ‘good eater’ on different issues has a better/worse time than me, but it makes me wonder. I focus a lot on my son’s sweetly stubborn personality and think he’s overall an easy kid, but…but…what if he’s not? What if my exhaustion is because he’s actually a very demanding and particularly needy kid who I love dearly, but am exhausted and mystified by most of the time?


  1. Holy cow. I worry/wonder the same things. I want to be a “good” mom and be all Super Nanny with discipline and what not but maybe that’s just his personality.

    My son hasn’t slept through the night since he was born, he’s a bossy backseat driver, and is very particular about what he wants to eat. But his imagination is endless, he’s compassionate, and has a good sense of humor. He is (creepily) a lot like me.

    I think we worry more about this stuff because of how it may look to other people rather than if it really bothers us as mothers. No one wants to be viewed as a “bad” mom. I’ve heard that people raise their kids to their own level of tolerance. In the end, I think I’d rather have the kid with big personality and knuckle head stubbornness than a quiet mouse in the corner. But that’s me.

    • Nice! I think I used to just write off his yogurt-for-dinner thing as a quirk, but then after he turned 2 I started to feel more judged…but then again, I eat string cheese for dinner many nights a week (and what’s the difference there, anyway?).

      My kid is stubborn, but so am I. Do I want to raise him to be himself or raise him to please other people?

  2. Toddlers are able to exert so little control in their lives and eating—whether to eat something or not, is really the only control they have. Your little guy sounds like he is exploring his ability to make insurgent decisions! He has the coincidence and security to make these decisions, too. He sounds like he is becoming independent. And independence is kinda high maintenance.

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