Dear (New and Old and Future) Moms,
I do not have much advice to give you because I don’t know you, your family or most importantly, I don’t know your child. When I was interviewing pediatricians for Flynn I will remember the moment I knew that Dr. H was the doctor for us. He said, “There will be a million people who have
opinions advice on how to raise your baby. Your mom, your mother-in-law, the internet, other moms, ME.” However, the only experts on your child are you. You know your child and what works for you. You have to trust that.” Now I do have to say I don’t know how to listen for a heart murmur and I didn’t know how to “bag” my child so we can collect his urine (although I do now). I also don’t know how to look into a kid’s ear to see for an ear infection, but I can tell when my kid isn’t feeling well.
Dr. H’s words have stayed with me because moms love to give advice. Heck, I love to give advice and share my story. However, I have to remember that my Flynn is not like your Sophia, Jayden or Harper. My Flynn is not even like my Nola. What worked for Flynn (and us at the time) doesn’t necessarily work for Nola. I loved having Flynn in my bed (as much as a I joked about sleeping on the floor half the time). I realized just how much I missed it the other night when we had to shack up with Flynn again due to the Polar Artic Blast Ice Storm taking our power and relocating us to HotelGrace. I probably would love it with Nola as well, but she doesn’t love it. She loved laying on me for a good few weeks before she let me know she prefers to be left alone. I won’t lie, it kind of makes me sad, but Nola’s Nola and is happy snuggled up in the Rock n’ Play. Flynn nursed multiple times through the night until he was 13 months old. Nola has slept through the night on more than one occasion lately. (Which is more times than Flynn has since moving to the crib).
It is funny watching Dominique learn Nola. He tries all the tricks he developed with Flynn from holding down her arms (Flynn loved it, she looks at him like he is crazy) to laying snuggled on the couch with Dad (Flynn was happy as a could be, Nola screams to go check out the action). The “advice” we had based on Flynn doesn’t even work with our second child. Sure, we could maybe make it work, borrow some advice from the “experts”, but the only expert about my kids and my family is…me (and sometimes Dominique).* A loving family member calls me an arrogant parent and maybe I am. But I am arrogant about my kids because what we have works for us and when it doesn’t I will read the internet, ask for tips, visit the library parenting section and figure something out. Sure, it sounds nice to sleep through the night, but I’m not sure I would be able to. One of the first nights Flynn started out sleeping in the crib — I was up sad that he had “moved out”. Sometimes you have to shift. To adjust. I avoided letting Flynn watch TV for a long time and still don’t really love a lot of screen time. However, recently the TV has provided Flynn the distraction from his jealously while I nurse Nola. And if he starts watching TV way more than we are comfortable with- he’ll need a new distraction.
There are so many things the world tells you you need to do to be a perfect mother, perfect parent. There are pressures from the media, your parents, magazines, Pinterest, moms at the playground, Dr. Sears, Dr. Ferber, Dr. Oz and every media doctor in between. From breastfeeding to sleep habits to what to feed your kid to what activities are best and what methods of schooling are right, organic/nonorganic, glutenfree/dairy free/non GMO, daycare/nanny/stay at home. Every mom is faced with choices and no one method or set of ways is going to make you “perfect” or your kids better than anyone else’s. You don’t love your child any less because you don’t do it this one way. (Yes and that includes breastfeeding)
You have to prioritize. Every family has different priorities and different needs. And these needs and priorities change. What I have found felt right for one period of our life, may not feel right any longer. Right now it is a priority for me that Flynn (and Nola and me) get out of the house regularly (like everyday). It may be a walk around the block in freezing cold, a trip to Target or to some
amazing child playspace. However, next week Flynn may not want to go out and about and would rather stay home or maybe I will need a break from flashing the public while I feed Nola. Right now, it is not a priority of mine to have my bed (or sleep cycle) to myself. However, maybe one day it will be and I will readjust. It is a priority of mine to feed my kid healthy foods, but it is not a need to go crazy if someone gives him a nonorganic pretzel.
There is no manual, no Bible of parenting. This is no right or wrong way to parent your kid. You are the expert on your kid. If you are struggling seek advice, but remember the advice people are giving are based of what worked for their kids. Their family. For those of us giving advice (myself included), remember that sometimes a mom just wants to talk or vent. They want to laugh or make a joke about the number of times their kid kicked them in the face the night before while sleeping…not be bombarded with criticism, suggestions or some trademarked method of parenting.
My best piece of advice for a
new mom any mom is do what feels right for your kid, your family…and don’t feel bad that you don’t feel comfortable (or you have other priorities) than Sleeping Suzy, Henrietta Homemaker, Organic Olivia, or Montessori Mary. Every mom wants to the “right” or “best” thing for their kid. And if what you’re doing works for you…it’s what is best. As my sister in-law wrote on an advice card from my baby shower…Trust Your Gut. And I have found that I make the best decisions when I do just that. Trust MY gut.
*Originally I said us..Dominique chimed in it was more like me + him sometimes.