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When You Reach A Plateau

February 22, 2013 - Jen Zbozny
When you have your first child, you enter an alien landscape. You find yourself spending acres of time pondering how you learned to sleep, self-soothe, drink liquid, properly chew a Cheerio. It's an odyssey you share with your baby that just about when the territory becomes familiar, your baby becomes a toddler then a little child, and so on into adult hood.

One of the most difficult things about that journey is reassuring yourself that whatever stage is occurring, you'll master it along the way. When Eve was an infant, feeding her was wonderful. She nursed, so her food was on my person, readily available, at the right temperature. When she began eating solid food, it drove me bonkers because suddenly I had to think about and prepare three meals a day. The last time I had done that before we had a baby was, um, okay never. I might have thought about three meals a day in college, or as a working professional, but I didn't PREPARE them. I certainly didn't plan them out and grocery shop for them, and admittedly, i was less than completely focused on balanced nutrition.

My first response to solving the meal problem for our child was to drive myself insane. It wasn't a good solution. A good solution was to think about what we already enjoyed eating, adapt it to the most healthy ingredients, add some new side dishes to incorporate a broad range of tastes, flavors, and textures, and look at how labor intensive each dish was. If I really wanted something complex, I'd plan it on a weekend night when things were less busy. I learned to make extra portions and freeze them so we have quick solutions at hand. And I read a great deal about how foods are grown, treated, and shipped so I could make educated choices when it came down to it. I took something overwhelming and broke it down into manageable pieces and became comfortable with it.

I'm trying to keep that in mind as Eve continues to grow into the next stages of her life. Just when we find ourselves in a comfortable little plateau, things change. I've learned that driving myself crazy and trying to know all the variables won't work. Instead I try to break it down and keep it balanced. With Eve turning five, many changes are in play. Soon there will be more rigorous school. I admit I'm not ready for it, so I'm starting now to think about lunches, clothes, and after school snacks. I'm thinking about how our weeks and weekends will change too as we will have less glorious free time together during the week. We'll both miss it, but I think I'll miss it more than Eve.

I had a piano teacher who was a musical genius and one of the most patient instructors I've ever encountered. He used to say to me "when you reach a plateau, it's time to grow." When he first started saying that, I found it frustrating, because I wanted things to stay the same. Over time I realized that leaving the comfort of the plateau and accepting the frustration that comes with learning and trying your hardest, brought amazing gifts. It was wonderful to have a patient teacher who coached me through the plateaus and frustration and encouraged me not to give up. I hope to be that kind of teacher and coach for Eve.

I wonder what kind of plateaus you're reaching and how you overcame parenting issues that made you bonkers. I'm sure I'm not the only parent thinking these thoughts today.


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