Anna was asking me how Nadia is different from her at the same age. I replied that she is different because all human beings are different. But I am finding it hard to pinpoint, what are the exact differences.
Our parenting styles are different. When Anna was two, her life was undoubtfully more structured than Nadia’s. There was no question about what clothes to put on, whether to have dinner or not, and what will be served. There was no throwing away food. There were no reading books on the potty. Part of it was survival, me being a single working mom of three in an unstable economy. But part of it was a starting point.
I was an incredibly liberal parent by Russian standards those days. I didn’t spend all day disciplining a child. I would let them do tons of things other parents won’t. But by the nowadays civilized standards, it was still very rigorous parenting.
To cover the past two weeks: it was crazy at work. An interesting fact is that it was mostly good stuff. Good things were happening, and some decisions I’ve been waiting for for a long time were finally made and approved. But it was tiresome. When you need to sit at the meetings for 6 to 7 hours every day, and not just “sit,” but actively listen and participate, you are done by the end of the day — so done, as if you worked 16 hours straight.
There was also a lot happening outside work — things related to the December conference in Chicago, which I am heavily involved in. Boris and I were finalizing yet another paper submission. I was trying to make sure my direct report will present our work at another conference, which I am unable to attend. All stuff with my Mom. All things with my volunteering.
And then I took two days off and went to Madison to babysit my granddaughter Nadia. I can’t remember another moment in my life when I would gladly disconnect from my work email, Slack, etc. I checked what was going on a couple of times (literally!), but without any hesitation replied: this can wait till Tuesday.
It still took me some time to relax, but by midday Saturday, when I was leaving, I already felt pretty good.
I returned home to my long weekend to-do list, but I am keeping thinking about everything that happened during this visit, most about my conversations with Anna. A couple of months ago, I started to write a post about Anna’s and my parenting styles, and then put it aside. I think now I will be able to finish it :).
Today my granddaughter Nadia turned two. We celebrated her birthday on Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin. The guests were just her closest relatives and closest friends, but it was still a little bit overwhelming for a two-year-old. Anna created an airplane birthday cake, which took a lot of designing and planning, and lots of decorating effort.
After all the presents were opened and enjoyed, my daughter, Anna gave a short speech, in which she said that she is so thankful that through all two years of Nadia’s life there was not a moment, when she wasn’t loved and taken care of. And that she, Anna, is thankful for that.
That was one of many recent moments when I thought to myself: how fortunate it is that I decided to go to America twenty-three years ago! How lucky Anna is that she came along! How fortunate Nadia is that she was born to such a loving family, with so many relatives adoring her. And how this all might never happen, and I wouldn’t even know that something had not happened!
Happy birthday Nadezhda! Happy parenting, John and Anna!