10.10.2013

CM: parenting the child you have

My most recent post on Connected Mom. What did it look like to parent YOUR baby? 


When Gwen was a baby, I remember wishing that she came with some warning lights and maybe an LCD panel that told you exactly what combo of things would work today. Warning: tired baby. Use sleep sack plus fan plus white noise and hold an extra 5 minutes. Warning: just fussing in sleep. Leave her be! It was an interesting juggling act, trying to figure out what would make my girl happy.

Babies don't come with warning lights though. Nor do they have owners manuals. But you do figure it out. Eventually I realize that if I trusted my intuition and really listened to her, I could start to "read" her cries. I could tell the difference between a cry that meant she needed something, and one that was just a sleep whimper (aka. leave her alone or you'll wake her more!).

Every mother has to learn to use her intuition. We all seek advice at some point, and commiseration often. That's why blogs such as this one exist: a place for like mined Mamas to come together and share some collective knowledge, to share their experiences so that they, and other mamas, can know they not alone. I love these places for that purpose.

This is why I will always ofter advice if someone asks for it: I'm happy to tell you more then you ever wanted to know about breastfeeding, babywearing, baby lead weaning, safe bedsharing, and gentle parenting; not to mention offer copious amounts of commiseration on sleepless nights and strong-willed toddlers. But every baby is different.Which is why I completely understand if you ask for my advice, listen to my advice, digest my advice, then ultimately throw that advice right out the window!

The biggest lesson most mothers go through, no matter what parenting style you use, is learning to parent the child you have. We all form an image in our minds, pre-baby, of what kind of mother we will be. These unique little people though, they have their own ideas. What worked perfectly for others would not have worked for Gwen, and what works perfectly for Gwen would not work for others. That is okay. It says nothing about me as a person and everything about my child as an individual.

For us that looked like full-term breastfeeding and BLW, continuing to babywear, bedsharing for a few months then transferring to a crib where she stayed until 3.5. It means always trying to use our gentle words and gentle voice, giving my child lots of whys, but using time outs if needed when everything is just too much and she can't listen anymore. To others it looks VERY different. That's okay. 

Too often mothers pit themselves against one another for the "right way" to do things. Even within communities, even within the Attachment Parent community, there are debates about what makes you AP enough, who's doing it the right way. But my ultimate advice for the most AP thing you can do when parenting? Listen to your baby, listen to your heart, and not to anyone else. Parent YOUR baby.



9 comments:

  1. Wonderful post! I totally agree with you--just listen to your baby and listen to your heart, and everything else will fall into place.

    I was also one of those people who had this "image" of the kind of mother I'd be. But so far, I think I'm far from that image. It's all good though, because motherhood itself is far from what I had imagined. Although it's harder in many aspects than I imagined, it's also so much greater in others. And I've only just started on this journey so I'm looking forward to what lies ahead!

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  2. Aww, she is so cute, and you are right. Babies don't come with manuals. It is a pure things of trial and error. The best thing is to listen to your baby, listen to your intuition. If that doesn't help you can always ask others. You also learn by having the hands on experience and by watching others.

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  3. This is so true: "learning to parent the child you have. " Great insight and thanks for sharing!

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  4. Great post :) I love this. I always see to it that I parent my child the best way I can not based on what I want but based on what she needs.

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  5. All my kids were so different, I would have needed a new "manual" every time! :) Ultimately though you are right, listening to your heart and to your baby is the best any mother can do!!

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  6. Fantastic thoughts! And it's good to remember that subsequent children are different as well...what worked great for #1 may be a terrible idea with #2.

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    1. So true. My best friend's girls are as different as night and day!

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