Written by Mary Katherine Backstrom
Gerber Ferber Shmerber. I’ve had it up to here with the experts. Whoever made the joke that “children don’t come with instructions” obviously didn’t live in the Google generation.
It’s 10 p.m. and at this very moment I am washing crib bedding and a needle point rug. Why?
Well, let me take you back in time…approximately an hour ago.
I fed Nugget his bottle and rocked him to sleep. I placed him in the crib and watched him snuggle up to his blanket like the tiny cherub that he is. I smiled, kissed his forehead, and beelined to the couch with my ice water.
Aaaah. Alone time.
My butt hadn’t warmed a cushion before my son was crying.
I found him running around the crib like a pinball, his blanket trailing behind him and tears streaming down his face.
So I held him and whispered that the sky wasn’t falling. And rocked him again. And he was a sleeping cherub again. And five minutes later he was crying. Again.
Rock, cherub, cry, repeat.
And then I remembered what Dr. Expert said: Children his age should be sleeping through the night!
Google: How to make a baby sleep.
“Let him cry 3 minutes. If he’s still crying, pat his butt. He’ll get over it and settle down and sleep through the night and your life will be so awesome.”-Dr. Expert
After two minutes my kid was so upset that he projectile-puked all over the nursery. Exorcist style. So here we are, me and the washing machine.
I’ve recently been advised that my child should be sleeping better, eating more independently, and weaning off the bottle. I take all this advice to heart because, well, the experts say it.
And because these things haven’t happened yet, I’ve been feeling like a failure. Something must be wrong. Is it me? Is it my son? What should I do?
Two things are certain:
1) Parents get tired.
2) Tired parents worry.
And that makes us a prime market for those million dollar parenting miracles. Books upon books tell us how to turn children into tiny little versions of adults who require less work and attention.
Well, I have a secret of my own: Babies aren’t convenient. And they aren’t supposed to be.
In our culture of fast food and quick service and “customer is always right,” it’s easy to get the idea that if something is difficult, it’s wrong.
Your kid isn’t sleeping well? You aren’t doing it right. Your kid isn’t interested in math? You aren’t doing it right. Your kid hasn’t walked yet? You aren’t doing it right.
Parents, I have some good news: You are doing great.
Doctors know diseases. Firemen know fires. Pilots know planes.
And you, Mama and Daddy, YOU are the expert of YOUR baby.
The notion that a stranger could somehow be an expert on your child is a strange one, indeed.
Last night, I ignored my instinct that my child needed comforting. That he was scared. That his mouth hurt. And when I shoved that instinct aside and let someone else direct my parenting efforts, I ended up with puke-covered sheets and a red-faced, sobbing toddler.
Half an hour later, I watched my sweet little cherub sleeping in a crib stripped of linens. And that’s when I realized:
It is time to reclaim our confidence as parents.
It’s ok for a child to need comfort at night. Darkness is scary.
It’s okay for a child to hate math. Math sucks.
It’s okay for a teething ten month old to bite. Their mouths stinkin’ hurt!
And yes, these enlightened experts may have some brilliant ideas. But if you decide to use a certain method, it should be because YOU think it could work for your child. Not because someone else said so.
I will no longer be told that my child should be more convenient. That he should sleep longer and eat differently. He is a child. I chose this messy, inconvenient life. My lack of sleep isn’t anybody’s failure. It’s parenthood. And for MY child, I know what’s best.
A rocking chair, a blanket, and some snuggles aren’t too much to ask of me.
So, parenting experts, you can shove it.
I am the expert of my child. I’m reclaiming my sovereignty of parenthood.
And you should, too.