Veering into mommyblog territory for the moment…
Almost seven months into this parenting thing, I finally stopped apologizing. “Do you co-sleep?” “Yes, we read X, this is what works for us…” became “Yes!” [wait for further inquiry]. “Are you starting solids?” “Yes, we know that delaying is best but…” became “Yes. She’s ready.” I have encountered my share of militant “You HAVE to do it this way!” parents and I realized my responses to even simple questions were becoming preemptive defenses against what they perceived to be flaws in my parenting. So much judgment, and from weird sources. This is especially awesome coming from people who ask “Can she do X and Y?” and then launch into a comparison. And by awesome I mean jaw-clenchingly unpleasant.
Screw ’em. In the immortal words of Stewie Griffin, “I don’t need to f’in impress you.” 99% of the people in our lives are supportive, interested, and invested in Maggie’s well being without being up in the details of how we do it, so I’m no longer investing any energy into that 1%. This is almost as liberating as the time we realized we could just stay home for Thanksgiving and eat pie in our underwear. Oh, the freedom of choice!
Case in point: we were getting some flack about self-soothing. Must self-sooth! Will end up with a 15-year old drug addict if we don’t teach her to soothe herself back to sleep now! (Sadly, I was actually told that.) So I went on a hellish week-long crusade last month to push her toward napping and sleeping without any help–nursing, rocking, bouncing in the Moby–from us. There were screams. (Hers.) There were tears. (Both.) Finally I said “You know what? She isn’t there yet. I’ll get her on a more consistent routine, keep her there, and revisit this later. She won’t need to be bounced to sleep this time next year. She won’t need to be rocked in college.”
Now? Maggie has started to fall asleep on her own for naps and at night. She’s more responsive to me now that I’m not trying to shoehorn her needs into a box of my creation, and I’m enjoying our days even more than before. So the new mantra is this: “Nobody else has the right to decide what’s best for her. What other babies are able to do doesn’t matter.”
I feel better already. And I’m not even eating pie in my underwear.