I had very clear ideas about how to parent… until we had our first child.
Before you have children with their unique little personalities and needs, it’s pretty easy to envision a parenting style that for sure would work.
Then your child is born.
And as you go through each stage you realize two things:
One. You did not — and still do not — have all the answers.
You’re learning on the fly, pretending like hell like you know what the heck you’re doing.
Two. Everyone else somehow magically has all the answers… and they’re very eager to share with you.
Anyone else experience this phenomenon where other moms with a child or two have learned all the things and without request, will happily share with you what you can do differently or better?
(Or perhaps you simply see them roll their eyes, silently telling you poor mama, if only you knew more/better/differently).
By the way, don’t worry that I’m playing the blame game. This mama for sure did it too. I’m guilty.
Sleep through the night. I got it. My girl was sleeping through the night at seven weeks old, while I was breast feeding.
We cried it out, and I’m sure I told you alllll about it.
What’s with those parents who are so scheduled that their child must only sleep in their crib?
My girl could nap in the car, in the stroller, whatever.
How do they let this little person’s nap rule their lives?
Oh, innocent Alyson. You didn’t have a clue.
Enter second child.
Our boy had the most religious nap and sleep schedule, you’d thought we lived in a sleep convent.
We lived and breathed his nap, and even at five — the boy still naps an hour and a half daily — we are scheduled, nearly to the minute.
I was so blissfully ignorant… and likely fairly inconsiderate and oblivious to other mamas and their kiddos after my first go-round.
I knew it all. Right?
Big, fat, whopping… Nope.
The truth is this:
I learned how to parent one child.
And, the further along I get in this parenting journey, I’m reminded how much there is to learn.
Types of schools.
The list of potential learning opportunities are endless.
As soon as you have a second child, with his or her adorably wondrous little personality that’s most likely different than your first child, you realize this mom thing is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
Add in any extras like physical or behavioral needs, and mama, there is a lot to learn.
I wish I knew that.
We are currently navigating parenting the most curious, insightful, funny, inquisitive, deliciously adorable and intensely active little boy.
He also has some behavioral needs beyond the “typical” active little boy.
Yet most moms who haven’t been down this path — i.e. also me, after my first — don’t really get it.
You quickly realize that at best, you have a lot to learn because this road is going to be different than the first journey. If you add in any additional “stuff,” buckle your seat belt, mama (and be prepared for all the unsolicited advice, again that I likely shoved your way without any awareness, too).
I’n so sorry about that. Really, really sorry. I’m learning, too.
If you are a parent, or trying to conceive, consider this a key parenting rule that should universally exist:
How to Parent:
Every parent should do what’s best for each individual child to help them thrive, and lead an independent, fulfilling and kind life.
Remember when you’re pregnant and everyone is together figuring out the it products, what formula or breast feeding equipment you need, what car seat everyone is buying, and even eventually what preschool the kids should attend?
As the years go by and you learn your little babes personality, things change.
It’s less about the external voices and what everyone else is doing, and more about what will be best for your little one, and what feels right for your family.
Maybe that means tough love or extra nurturing.
Maybe you 100 percent planned to breast feed but your boobs and milk ducts had other plans.
Perhaps that means a school with intense structure, or one with a more exploratory philosophy.
Maybe you envisioned your babe would sleep in their crib but six months in you’re sleep deprived and totally OK with co-sleeping.
Maybe everyone is sending their child to one camp or to that dance program or soccer team but your child has less than zero interest.
Maybe you planned to feed your kiddo exactly what you eat during each meal but sensory issues mean your kid barfs or goes into hysterics with anything but three foods.
Parenting is one of the most rewarding, humbling, eye-opening, fulfilling, scary, intense, loving, grounding, incredible, and educational experiences you’ll ever experience.
Don’t get so caught up in what you envision and what you read or heard that you stop seeing your child for the wonderfully, curious, unique, special child that they are.
A doctor told us, the only right answer is the one that means you are doing what’s best for your child.
This. Always, remember this.
If you do, I promise you are doing you’re doing it right, mama.