Not a very inspired title, but I am confused. Sincerely, I am. This is not a rant and rave type post, I am just genuinely confused. Here's what I'm perplexed about: What gives other mothers the right to openly judge the decisions you make for your kids, as long as those decisions are made with the best of intentions? Sure, I've had my moments of going, "Whoa. That is the craziest thing I have ever heard and I certainly wouldn't do that with MY kids." But I would never openly SAY THAT TO THE PERSON, to their face, unless I felt like there was abuse happening. I have the great pleasure of being acquaintances with a lady who feels that it is her place to tell people (namely, ME) what they are doing right and wrong with their kids. Her "advice" knows no limits: potty-training is done incorrectly by just about everyone except herself, no one else feeds their kids healthy enough, and she definitely has cornered the market on educating her kids. I'm sure that they are speaking Chinese by the time they are 18 months old, but whatever. And I am FINE with all of that. Just fine. It just boggles my mind that other mothers would look down on another mother for just doing the best she flipping can. No, I may not sit down with my 3 year old and go through addition flashcards, and my 3 month old doesn't take great naps yet because we are rarely home for him to get a lot of daytime sleep. But for God's sake, I am doing the best I know how to do here. All of this stems from an incident last week...
Scene: The park. With a small group of friends, and aforementioned beotch. Aannnndd action. A few of us were talking about when we had to sleep-train our kids who are now preschoolers. We were reminiscing about the few nights we spent in tears with our babies while they learned how to fall asleep by themselves, and how haaard it was to go through that. One of my friends said that I probably wasn't looking forward to going through it with Charlie, huh? And I happened to mention that, uh, we have already started, to some degree. I had the magical 4 Month Mark set for starting the sleep training, but I started early. Shoot me. Anyway, they were asking what we are doing, and I told her about our new routine, and that Charlie is actually taking to it quite well. Way better than I had expected. I told them that everything had just come to a head, and Charlie was getting zero sleep during the day, which made him ummm just a tad over-tired by the afternoon, which made him sleep like shit at night, and it also made him too tired to eat very well. So I had a hungry, exhausted, screaming baby. ALL. DAY. LONG. I had to do something, and since me holding him for his entire nap 3-4 times a day was out of the question, I needed to start to teach him how to sleep alone. So I'm describing the whole program, when this woman interrupts me, strokes Charlie's little cheek, looks him in the eyes, and says, "Oh you poor, poor little thing. Having to cry yourself to sleep all day and night."
Camera pans to me, mouth agape and unable to speak, which doesn't happen very often. End scene.
Seriously. She actually said that. To my, errr, Charlie's face. First of all, one of my biggest pet peeves is passive aggressive people. Just say what you mean and don't try to sidestep confrontation by slyly inserting some comment into the conversation. Second of all, %@*D&!%%)*#T@. I have never even had the thought enter my head to approach someone about their parenting decisions, especially not over something like SLEEP TRAINING. Some people spank, I don't. Some people are super crazy strict with the food their kids eat, I don't really go insane to make sure they only eat organic food. Some people nurse their kids for years, I don't. And, some people enjoy co-sleeping with their kids until they are old enough to drive, I don't. WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL? Is a person only a "good" mother if they sleep with their kids, feed them only organic food, spank them, breastfeed for 3 years, or have their kids speaking 3 languages before preschool, even if any of the above things make the mother MISERABLE?! I probably could co-sleep with Charlie until he decided to sleep in his own bed, but I would not be a happy person if I shared our bed with him for 3+ years. Does this make me a bad mother? I don't think it does, I think it makes me a person who loves to play and cuddle with her kids during the day, and then sleep in her own bed at night. This woman also commented that I am "making" Charlie cry. First of all, no I'm not. I'm not pinching him really hard on his leg or slapping his face and then dumping him in his crib as I sprint out of his room. That would be making him cry. I'm allowing him to cry for timed intervals, after which I check on him, calm him down, then give him another shot at falling asleep unassisted. And guess what? If it doesn't work on a particular day, it doesn't work. And I rock him to sleep and try again later. Because I'm not a moron. I realize that he is 3 months old and shouldn't be left to cry for long periods of time. But what's worse: Him crying alone for 15 minutes at a time, and then falling asleep for a good nap, OR him not getting ANY sleep all day long and being so completely fried by 3:00pm that he is shaking and screaming and damn near having a seizure, he's so exhausted? I choose Option A. He's not crying because he's hungry or wet or cold or hot or ABCDEFG. He's crying because he wants me to rock him all the way to sleep for over an hour 4 times a day and at night. I had to do this with Ella, and I now have a World Champion sleeper in her. She will actually ASK to go to bed, and she absolutely will not have her dad or myself sleep with her, or sleep with us in our bed. Fine by me. I am free to enjoy her all I want during the day, and then she goes to bed alone. No rocking or singing or crazy bedtime routines, just sleep. And she is a completely happy, well-adjusted, brilliant child with absolutely no "abandonment issues" because I let her cry it out when she was a baby. It works for me and my kids so I'm going with what I know. And if it doesn't work for Charlie? I'll do something else, to be determined at a later date.
I just cannot for the life of me figure out what entitles someone to make snide comments about other peoples' parenting choices. My sister has two kids just like I do, and while we don't do things exactly the same way with our babies, I would never think to openly berate her for the choices she makes regarding her own offspring. I think she's a good mom even though we make different decisions for our very different children. I have lots and lots of friends who are moms and we all have different parenting styles, and I don't think a single one of us is "right" or "wrong"...I think we all have different kids and we all are just doing the best we ding dang can. I have one friend who tried to let her daughter "cry it out", and her daughter would puke every single time. It just didn't work for her. I have a friend who co sleeps with her kids and enjoys it. Whatever works for her. I have a friend who absolutely loves her job and didn't want to give it up when she started having kids. Fantastic, it works for her family. I just don't understand this entitlement that some people feel they have to look another mom in the eye, KNOWING exactly how hard this job is, and tell her that she isn't doing a good job. I've worked in "real" jobs, and I've stayed home with my kids for the past 3 years, and I have friends who work in jobs outside the home while they have kids. And guess what a lot of those friends have said to me before? "Wow, staying home is so haaarrd, I don't know if I could do it." It is hard...you sacrifice yourself all day and night to these little people who just want want want and need need need, and there is seldom any time left in the day for myself. But I choose this job, because I think it is important for me to be here for this time in my childrens' lives, while they are still so little and are becoming the people they will one day turn out to be. And it just blows my mind that another mother in the same position would be unkind enough to tell me (or anyone else) that THEY don't feel like I'm doing the best I can with my kids.
So in closing...be kind to other moms. Whether we stay at home, work outside the home, have one kid or twelve, subscribe to Attachment Parenting or are big fans of Babywise, whether we cook meals from scratch three times a day or we plop some macaroni and cheese in front of our toddlers for lunch...we are all just doing the best we know how to do.
Is he REALLY happy and smiley, or will me allowing him to cry for 15 minutes drive him to become a mass-murdering psychopath? Eh, we'll see.