I wish we lived in the good old days. You know, the ones where the kids could go outside and play all day long and the parents didn’t have to worry. Where we could eat fruit roll ups by the bunch and not worry about GMO’s. Where co-sleeping, co-eating, co-thinking, and social media advice were all just a strange idea in a nutty professor’s mind. I wish we lived in a world where parents could just parent (as a verb). Where parents actually trusted themselves.
When I pump (TMI?) I have about 15 minutes of time and so I look at my phone (what else is new). It is such a bad habit. I see every tragic news story out there as well as every fluff story. As I scroll through my newsfeed right now, I can see Ben Affleck’s meeting with the nanny as well as a mother and 2 sons found dead in Florida. Top that off with how to make the best watermelon smiley face and here I am.
I also see moms asking questions on Facebook mom groups. Some are normal questions asking for recommendations. But some are asking questions about the color of their kids poop or what they should do if their child has a 102 fever. I think I have seen too many poop pictures to count. Here’s an idea, ((clear throat)), ask your doctor. Truly, it’s my fault for looking. And I get it, it gets addicting. The problem is this; in cases of advice and support, everyone becomes an “Expert.” Regular moms become expert parents on how to tell if the poop is because of a milk allergy or too much foremilk. Regular moms interject with their way. And for most moms, it is their way or go ahead and just get on I-95 for the long haul.
This week, I was on a breastfeeding group and a mom seemed to be struggling with their baby sleeping without her. I consider myself a pretty good mom on getting my kids to sleep through the night and take naps. I read the book, “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby” and it really helped me find my way. I don’t follow anything to a T and I don’t seek other people’s advice. Except for my friend Katie, who is equally (if not better) at sleep training. But for the most part, my way works for my family. I interjected with a little non-judgmental advice and the town went crazy. And by town, I mean the town of motherhood.
“How can you let your baby sleep 12 hours without food?”
“Your baby won’t thrive.”
“You are denying your child nutrition.”
“This is not the norm.”
I have spent the last 3 years trying to find common ground for mothers and I feel like I started at point A, step one. I can’t believe how much backlash I got because I gave advice on how to get the baby to sleep through the night. The mom was at her wits end. I was just trying to help. Now I know better. Granted, it was a breastfeeding group and they are very keen on co-sleeping and nursing on demand. I’m more of a scheduled mom. I think babies and kids in general need routine. Babies especially seem to thrive on routine. They like to know what to expect. Same with my older kids. When we go somewhere, I always give them a heads up so they aren’t flying blind. “Ok, kids, we are going to the dinner party, you have to sit nicely, you can’t run around, this is a fancy dinner so you have to use your manners,” etc. They are more likely to respond positively, if they know what’s coming. This is how I feel about babies. They are good babies if they can trust the parent to do what is right for them. My baby is so happy and I believe it is because of her routine. She also trusts me. She looks to me for my reactions and my demeanor. I think this is why she can sleep at night.
So here is a little advice to me, us. Do what is best for your family. Forget what everyone else is doing. Trust yourself. I know my baby is thriving and happy and healthy. All my kids slept through the night and all my kids are more than fine. If you have a question about something with your children, look inside first before you look to social media or advice from anyone else. Only you know what is best for YOUR child. Good luck out there moms. I wish nothing but support, sleep-filled nights, and happy children for you. Surround yourself with people who do support your decisions as parents. Otherwise, we are going to get to a place where parenting feels like alienation, and that is the last thing any of us need.
Now go have a fruit roll-up and call it a day.
~Noreen Heffernan,Writer, MA in Public and Corporate Communications, Certified in PR Writer, Growing Ladies.