It's a funny thing, this whole parenting experience. We have learned how to do it away from our family in terms of geography; albeit we always learn through virtual and past viewed example. I had moments in social groups where I figured out the importance of being firm in my parenting style, even if it's much different than those around me. Wearing the parenting coat that makes sense and feels right for me and my family with the knowledge my husband and I gather and seek. It might not be fully right and it may not be mostly wrong. But I will question and I will doubt and I will research and I will watch and I will listen and I will hope. Most importantly I will love. Knowing that we have unconditional love for our child and always wanting to do our very best at raising him, I imagine we can't be doing too bad of a job. But who creates that measuring stick? The people sitting in the room after I leave? If we are doing our best with the knowledge within and at our reach, with interest in always improving and not feeling complacent then that will be my measuring stick for success for my family unit.

The brief 2.5 years I have been a mother have taught me a lot about judgment and viewing others, especially parental decisions. I have learned to be better at respecting and asking questions about the why's behind family dynamics/ decisions and love what I learn about the insides of people dear to me. And if it's something that sounds crazy to me, I try to put that thought in my pocket and tell myself "but it's working for THEM and that's their success!" Or maybe things aren't working, but it's a journey that family needs to grow through to find what will. And I get to learn next to them, cheering them on! I know we have little journeys like that all the time. Research or peer survey leading to success or trial and error. It's like every family is a mini test unit, only the margin of error is taken a lot more seriously.

So living on our little island away from people who love and know us has allowed for some more confident parenting. Throw us into great grandma's house with breakable nick-knacks left and right and see my son shoot like a superball from china cabinet to mirror to French door. My confidence slithers into a pile of sand at the entry way. My son no longer comprehends the English language. Bits of empathy about boys at this age barely cover the specks of unsolicited advice on how to handle him. Mike and I take turns pulling his hands away from things and repeating 'no' and redirecting him to the point that we are both exhausted. We are the first to leave. I don't recall a conversation that lasted more than 2 minutes. I cannot count the number of times we pried his fingers off of the deadbolt, which he unlocked repeatedly. I am pretty sure he would run through a brick wall if we didn't watch him closely enough.

I leave with my tail between my legs. I have been defeated by my toddler in front of family members I see once a year. Somehow all that parenting that 'works well for us' back home doesn't translate to the new time zone. Why does this happen? I imagine my family might not have thought once about our parenting, but why do I worry so much about how I am doing these two weeks out of a year with people that I love and miss dearly?

Maybe next year for Christmas Santa can bring me a badge of confidence that will work in every time zone.