Babywise, Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child, The Happiest Baby on the Block, the Ferber Method, co-sleeping vs. not co-sleeping, cloth diapers vs. disposable, medicated childbirth vs. all natural, vaccinated or not, formula vs. the boob-- what do you think I am getting at?
If you are currently a Mom living in the 21st Century, I bet 90% of you have heard one of those terms or phrases. What do they mean? What in the heck is the Ferber method? Oh, just letting your baby cry for pre-determined amounts of time before giving him or her comfort? But wait, you let your baby cry?! Babywise-- baby WHAT? Scheduled naps and feedings, what in the Sam Hill would you do that for? And disposable diapers? YOU ARE THE REASON THE EARTH IS ROTTING. You don't vaccinate your children because you know better than thousands of pediatricians? Your child is ten and still shares a bed with you?! No, that can't be right, or normal. You had an epidural during labor?! Do you even know how dangerous those are?? Breastfeeding- you let a tiny human suck on your nipple and chaff it?! OUCH!
Ladies, I'm kidding. Well, I'm kind of kidding. I have followed a lot of inspirational Mamas via Instagram for several years and honestly, I'm blown away by the things people say. Human beings, that is what we are, correct? Yet sometimes, we talk to one another or about someone, like they are anything but human. I've seen words like, "hate," "stupid," "ignorant," "abusive," and "idiotic" when reading responses to posts on how a mom chose to sleep train, feed, and raise their baby. We pick on each other for organic versus processed (yellow 5, are you kidding me?! You FEED your kids that?!) Have people always been so critical?
I follow the sweet and talented Hannah Carpenter on Instagram (if you don't, you need to!) and recently she had a post that made me laugh out loud: a cute picture of one of her daughters and youngest son with the caption, "they both still come to bed with me every night. I don't hate it," and the hashtag #babyunwise. I commented on it that I appreciated her humor, whether she was trying to be humorous or not; and that while my husband and I chose to actually do and use Babywise, I loved how different we all are and that we can still be a community! Hannah responded, "Agreed. Everybody's gotta do what works for them." Preach, sister.
I'm the mom who swore she never wanted kids of her own. And I was so disturbed by breastfeeding that even when I got pregnant, I claimed that I didn't really want to do it. Enter the birth of my first child, our son, and once he was here, breastfeeding became one of my greatest joys (chaffed and bloody nipples and all and yes, that did happen). Don't even get me started on how my milk supply dried up; I was in hysteria over the fact that I wasn't making the choice to stop breastfeeding when he was a mere six months old, I was being forced. I even used one of my best friend's breast milk that she donated until it ran out, I began supplementing with formula and he continued to grow and thrive into a perfectly healthy baby boy! I was also the Mom who thrived on a schedule and the thought of not having one for him greatly stressed me out. When friends mentioned Babywise, we read it, talked about it, prayed about it and did it. The day Pierson was born, it's like he said, "I've got you, Mom and Dad." He nursed every three hours on the clock, slept pretty great off the bat, and again, continued growing into a healthy and happy babe. I know we tweaked things along the way....Did he ever need to eat "off the clock," sure! I didn't starve him, I didn't neglect him, and I made sure that his needs always and foremost came above mine. We had our second child, our baby girl Reese, and knew that because Babywise was so successful with him, we would of course try with her. She threw us for some loops, especially when she turned eight weeks old; colic or belly aches or who knows really because I can't remember--but we didn't stick solely with that method. Things changed and she forced us to be a little more flexible and while being so, I realized that I was still a good mom.
My kids are now two and three and haven't slept in our bed since they were a week or two old. I tried with Pierson; we got him all cozy in the middle of our bed with his sweet blankets. He looked so peaceful and cuddly, but every dad blame noise he made, I was leaning over his face making sure he was alright. We decided having him sleep in his crib would allow all of us a better and more solid nights rest and having a video monitor gave me peace of mind. The same went for Reese; I learned that with Pierson, since he slept in his bed from his first week on, he was not flexible to sleeping in other places. I love that he loves his bed but at the same time, I am incredibly envious when I see pictures of sleeping kids in their parents bed. I was hopeful I could make Reese a little more flexible with her sleeping, but to no avail, she's the same way. I would give anything to cuddle in our king sized bed with both babies and sleep soundly all together but it's just not going to happen any time soon. I'm too high strung (and a terrible sleeper in general) and my kids are too used to their routine. Parent fail? Probably to some, but why does how we chose to sleep train our children have to be up for debate with anyone else? Oh, you didn't do co-sleeping? Cool, that's great. Whatever works for you! Or, your kids sleep with you? Awesome, I'm so glad that method works. Whichever you're for or against, I promise it's okay.
Not too long ago, I needed to take the kids to the grocery by myself. We have those annoying car shopping carts and when they spotted them near the entrance, Reese screamed, "Blue car!" Pierson yelled, "Red car!" I grabbed the closest one: the red one. Enter my two year's old tantrum: Reese starts hysterically sobbing, screaming, actually going red in the face. She's our hitter and she smacked my chest in a quick angry outburst. Customers passed by me, I stood quiet, in between the roses and avocados. I gently took her hands and put my mouth to her ear, "Reese Elisabeth, you will not hit me, you will not throw a fit and yell and get your way. You will now ride in the shopping cart, not the car, until you are calm." More crying.
A manager came over and said, "Would it help if I gave her a sucker?" What world do you live in?! A sucker to reward her hitting me and screaming because she didn't get her way?!I I thought. "No thank you, she will be just fine." We continued moving. "I. want. to. ride. in. the. blue. car," she cried. Down the milk aisle, her still crying, me still quietly reminding her of the expectations. "Enjoy these moments," a man said as he smiled at me. This? Right here? Enjoy this? He continued, "...it only gets harder from here." I stopped the noisy and giant cart. "That's the piece of advice you want to give me right now?" He laughed, "Oh I'm kidding," he continued shopping in another aisle, away from my hellions yelling.. A lady with giant puppy dog eyes looked at Reese. "Poor baby," she sighed. Poor baby, yes, the two-year-old throwing the fit over the color of the gigantic car shopping cart I have to navigate through diapers and wipes.
Reese suddenly had her epiphany and let out a heavy sigh. Her body stilled, her shoulders loosened and her big hazel eyes looked into mine. "I'm sorry," she said. I hugged her and thanked her for using her words. Reese, you can ride in the car if you can do it without yelling and if you keep your hands to yourself." There was Pierson, riding quiet as a mouse this trip. I gently sat her beside him in the god-awful blue car and tiredly approached the check-out counter. No sooner did I get half way through paying did the two of them start bickering. A lady behind me touched my shoulder as she started loading her groceries on to the scanner. "I just wanted to say, we have been in the same aisles a lot today and I've been watching you." Uhoh, I thought. "From one parent to another, you are a fudging rock star of a Mom." Except she didn't say fudge, she said THE word, the big one, the queen-mother of dirty words, the "F-dash-dash-dash" word! "Oh gosh, thank you," I smiled and to myself thought, this has been okay.
That, that comment right there-One mom to another, she didn't roll her eyes at my noisy children, she didn't scold me for not parenting differently; she just gave me a pat on the back. She doesn't know if we did co-sleeping or not, if I birthed them naturally or not or whether I bought cloth or disposable diapers. And she didn't need to- she saw a mom; a tired mom, an embarrassed mom, a mom who could use some serious encouragement, and she gave it! That's all it took to turn my afternoon around and her one line has stuck with me ever since.
From one mom to another, from me to you, however you parent, whichever way you want to raise your children: YOU are a fudging rock star and I applaud YOU! I hope and pray that instead of being a community of competitors, judges, one-uppers, and negative Nancy's, we can instead put arms around each other, look one another in the eye and say "Your babies are lucky to have YOU!"
I would love to hear from you! What are your favorite parenting tips? What is your go-to book for Motherhood? Share a piece of advice you would give a fellow Mama and let's encourage one another today!