Yesterday I attended the baby shower of a long time childhood friend. The kind of friend that you can, not see for several months, and then pick up right where you left off. I love those kinds of friends! It was a lovely shower thrown by her family, and a nice time of fellowship and celebration. There wasn't any games, but there was a little baby book being passed around for each guest to fill out-- each page had spots to fill out your name, how you know the mother, advice for the mother and father, your favorite baby book/toy, what you wish for the baby.... It sort of reminded me of the cards I had guests fill out at the Peach Baby Shower that Daniel and I hosted a few months back.
So it was hard work thinking of exactly what to say, but I filled out the card and I'm sure the Mom to be will have a fun time reading them all later. On the way home however, I really got to thinking about that parenting advice question and all the things that I could've written down. What I actually wrote under the "advice for mother" column was something along the lines of get your rest and rest when the baby sleeps. Pretty cliche advice that we all get and none of us listen to and we end up trying to keep up with normal life, going crazy and can't figure out why we're so exhausted. Well, life isn't "back to normal" after a baby is born-- there is a lot of adjusting, adjusting in the sense that YOU adjust YOUR schedule and YOUR life to the baby, NOT the other way around.
But as I'm driving to go pick up the boys from their Grandma and Pa Pa's house, I just couldn't stop thinking about the parenting advice question, and what I discovered I should've written down is, "Don't take parenting advice."
Do I really mean that? Absolutely! Ultimately it is my belief that no one knows their child better than the Mother, and as Moms we have intuition and love for our babies that is beyond comprehension, we know exactly what our baby needs from us and don't need anyone to tell us what or how to do it.
Parenting is a process, and you are constantly evolving to meet your child's needs. It's really kind of cool how it all comes together-- we are all very different people and we all come from very different backgrounds. So you take 2 people who make a baby, those two people sit back and talk about how each of their parent's raised them, what they liked, what they didn't, and come up with a new way to raise their kids based off of their priorites. Leeland and Hayden will do the same thing when they grow up and have kids, they'll sit back with their wives and say, "my parents really sucked at _______ and I want to do that completely different." And that's fine! We're all gonna suck at something and we're all going to fail at something, but all of us as parents have the same end. And that end is that you want your kids to do better and be better than you, and you only want the best for your child.
My best is going to be very different from another Mom's best though. My best for my kid's is to stay at home with my children. That is my priority and what I personally believe is best for them. In order to do that though, we have had to sacrifice a second income and live a MUCH simpler life. Another Mom's best may not be to have that simple life, she wants to give her kid's the best things, the best education, or feed her kid's an all organic, GMO free diet, so she keeps her job to give what she feels is the best to them. And I applaud that! Go for it Momma! You are doing your best for your kid.
I feel like as Moms, especially in the world of Facebook, we get sucked into what all the other Moms are doing and just start to beat ourselves down. I can't tell you how many times I have logged into a social media site and felt a twinge of guilt for what's going on in my house. For an example, Hayden is almost 15 months old, still breastfeeding and still co-sleeping. Leeland NEVER slept with us, that little guy at a young age decided he wanted nothing to do with us, wanted to be in his bed and put himself to sleep in his own way. So many people were jealous and wanted to know "how we got Leeland to do that." We did nothing. We followed his cues, the kid is 3 years old and still takes a 3 hour nap everyday, he just loves his sleep! (Which this brings me to, your parenting even evolves from child to child because all kids are different.) Hayden on the other hand has what my Mom calls, "2nd child syndrome." (She has always said that the 2nd child is a bit wilder, harder to handle, gives you a run for your money kind of thing. Makes me wonder what a 3rd would be like?) He's very attached to Momma, and if Momma isn't around, he is very attached to whoever will let him cling to them. He's starting to grow out of some of it, but I know MANY people who think it is the craziest thing that we are still co-sleeping. And they think that we shouldn't. BUT, they don't know my Hayden the way that I do. On Dr. Sears 12 Features of a High Needs Baby, Hayden is 11 of them. ELEVEN! He's not ready to stop breastfeeding, he's not ready to sleep without Momma, and Momma's not ready to go up and down the stairs 3-4 times in the night to his room to soothe him.
My parenting style is just different than others, and I recognize and understand that others are going to do different from me.
So go on Mommas! Do your thing! Keep meeting the needs of your kiddos how you see best and don't look back. I'm gonna be over here doing my thing breastfeeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping for at least a little while longer, babywearing and staying at home. You do your thing! Own it! Do your best and keep trucking along.