This was something you couldn’t learn by heart out of a book–not that she hadn’t tried. (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)
First of all, my goodness, thank you so much for such a wonderful response to Tuesday’s post. I don’t think this blog has ever enjoyed so many facebook shares or so many views in a two-day period. Thank you. I so desperately want moms to know that they are doing motherhood right just by doing it at all, by following their instincts and loving their own children. It can flat out break your heart for the world to first tell you that motherhood is the most important job in the world, then suggest that you are doing it wrong. Most likely, you’re not doing it wrong.
You know, I remember the first time I ever dealt with mother-guilt. I was pregnant with my son and I was criticized for drinking a Dr. Pepper. (For those of you who don’t know, when you are suffering from pregnancy fatigue and your job is to listen to first-graders sound out words and it’s late afternoon, Dr. Pepper is like the nectar of the gods and the only thing that could remotely keep a woman awake.) An older woman scolded me for feeding my unborn baby caffeine and successfully made me feel awful. Even though my doctor had said it was okay to have caffeine in reasonable amounts. I have dealt with the guilt that is just constantly heaped on mothers many times since, but that was the first.
Anyway, I did not anticipate so much response to Tuesday’s post, but since it’s there I feel I should explain just a little bit more and maybe temper it a bit. First off, I am not criticizing any parenting methods. I think you should do whatever works for your own family whether it comes from a book, a friend, or your own intuition. But I have a huge problem with the labeling that goes on. I heard a friend say once, “I could never Ferberize my babies!” What she meant is that she wouldn’t use “the Ferber method” of letting her babies “cry it out” to train them to fall asleep on their own. A commenter here mentioned Dr. Sears and that his book made her realize it was okay to nurse her baby to sleep. Okay, so we have two very different methods out there. Which one is right? The answer is that neither one is universally right! One of them or a combination of both of them or neither of them may be what’s right for your own family. I rock my babies to sleep and nurse them to sleep. I did it with Benjamin and I do it with June Elizabeth. I love rocking and nursing them to sleep. But when Benjamin was between seven and eight months old he started waking up in the night and I would have to nurse him back to sleep. As time went on, he woke more and more frequently every night to the point that at twelve months he was waking about every two to three hours! So, just after his first birthday, we let him cry it out one night. Every twenty minutes I would go in and comfort him, then leave again. It took two and a half hours! It was awful. But it worked. The next night it only took 30 minutes. The following night, only 7. So, yeah, we used both methods. Maybe BabyWise works for your family from the getgo or maybe, like me, you want to rock your babies to sleep and nurse on demand. It’s your baby. It’s your choice. You are a good mom. You are not a “Babywise” mom or a “Ferber mom” or an “Attachment mom.” You are just a good mom. That’s my point.
The other thing I want to say is that, while books are great, parenting isn’t something you can learn by heart out of a book. Every family is different. Every child in a family is different. No one book could possibly address every nuance of raising every child. You can read a post I wrote about my experience with that here. You can get a lot of good tips, but eventually your own intuition and experiences will define your parenting. And what I want you to know, what I need to know, is that that’s not only okay, it’s exactly right. You are doing it right.