This past year or so I've had a few encounters and conversations with some first time mums. And I've come to realize that with my 8,6 and 3 year olds I've graduated past my relevancy point with the new mom crowd. They are all having those same conversations I had with my friends back when we all were new moms but really they aren't interested in hearing from someone who has already gone through those stages. They want to commiserate and ask for advice from people who are going through them right now. I see the looks on their faces when I share and in the back of my head I'm thinking, wait a minute...my youngest is 3! How is what I have to say irrelevant? Is it because my advice and experiences don't gel with whatever parenting guru they are adamantly following right now? So Ferber, Sears or Baby Whisperer here is my take on it all.
1.- there is no one right way to parent. Some ways are better than others. But for the most part if you are using common sense and doing what works best for you and your child you are doing great.
2. - babies, like people in general are all different. What may work for one baby may not for another.
3. - once someone finds something that works for them they are convinced it is the best only way to parent - while this may be helpful for that parent, it can make another parent feel horrible and inadequate. Case in point: I was part of a baby feeding group put on by our hospital when my first was an infant. At one meeting the issue of sleep came up (as it inevitably does) and one parent was so chipper to say, "My daughter started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks and has ever since, I don't know what the big deal is." The big deal for the rest of us blurry eyed parents is that you really need to just keep that to yourself for right now.
4. - very few babies are the snapshot perfect babies who meet every developmental milestone at the exact right time. Some babies walk early at 9 months, some a little later at 15 months. In the big picture the when isn't a big deal. Most of them will eventually get there. The same goes with sleeping through the night and potty training. I have yet to hear about a child who didn't get into university because they potty trained at 3 and a half instead of 2.
5. - telling a parent that this certain way will work (because it worked for them) is useless advice for a parent who has honestly tried it and found it not to work for them. Trying to convince them otherwise only creates feeling of animosity and inadequacy. Why not take more time to reassure them instead? Why don't we spend more time building each other up as moms instead of going into Camp Ferber and Camp Sears like a war zone. I was an attachment parent before I even knew there was a term for such a thing. A colleague of mine found Cry it Out worked for them. Great. I was a long term nurser for each of my babies. My sister in law nursed for a few months and then switched over to formula. Another friend of mine used formula right away. Great.
6. - find what works for you and keep doing it. If it isn't working, try something else and see how that goes. Maybe you will find one method is THE method. Maybe you won't. Maybe you will find that taking a little bit of this and a little bit of that will be the thing. You may also find that what worked with your baby last week has suddenly changed because your baby just got that much older that they need something else. Just roll with it and keep on rolling with it. I remember a friend of mine observing with her babies, "oh you are doing this now, and you don't want to do that anymore." So true. Those babies are amazing little people who are learning and growing at a phenomenal rate. So stop worrying so much and take the time to enjoy it!
7. - Yes, you will be tired. Yes, you will have moments complete frustration. Yes, you will question yourself. Yes, you will wonder what the heck were you thinking. Yes, you will make mistakes. But...yes, you will sleep again. Yes, you will relax. Yes, you will find successes. Yes, you will realize that what you were thinking is that this little person is worth it. You will find that you love deeper and more completely than you ever realized was possible. You will find that place in the quiet of the night at 3am when it is just you and your baby. You will find that in their first little smile at you. You will find that when you see their complete trust in you as they take their first wobbly steps towards your open arms. You will find that when they utter the syllables "mama" for the first time. When they hold your hand and say, "I love you". And you love them too.