I am a new parent, a sleepless new mom who has forgotten what it feels like to go to a movie theater or a play or musical. My infant is now almost nine months old and I find myself doing that thing parents do – talking to other parents. “Does your child sleep through the night? Really? How did you do that?” “Where did you buy that?” “Is your child eating solids yet? What is the food he or she likes best?” “What do you recommend?” And so on…
As a first-time parent, it is difficult to not get sucked into the assortment of books out there, authors who know best because they hold a Ph.D. in something and feel the need to express it in a 400-page long book. Wait! Who has time to read a 400-page book on how to be a better parent? Am I not neglecting the child if I have time to read a 400-page book on how to let my child cry it out in the middle of the night? Hmmm….
So anyway, I reached month eight for my daughter and realized, “Crap! No one is sleeping through the night – I need help now!” So I talked with one of my friends to find out the latest poop on how to get the child to sleep and on a schedule because frankly, I stink at attempting any of this. I run out and buy the book only to be disappointed after reading 5 pages of it. I still tried and got to page 275 – I am not sure it is going to work because I tried it over several nights, and it did not. I let the child cry it out like the book suggested but after 40 minutes of my daughter wailing, I could not stand it anymore and frankly, it took two nights to even get to that number. Poor girl! Then a friend suggested another book- the No cry sleep solution book written by a real mom – yeah, okay. I have been doing most of what is written in this book already and it is not working! I am not a patient woman as it is and it seems this book (while it is a no-cry method) really will require much patience and me staying at home some to get things done. Anyway, the question is, at what point in time do you just accept your fate and accept the fact that 90% of the earth’s population is not reading these books – they are relying on herbs, old wives’ tales, and other methods of raising these children and the kids are apparently turning out just fine. Albert Einstein had learning disabilities as a child – he did just fine wouldn’t you say?
According to one book I read, my child would have ADHD and be a complete freak if they did not get the requisite amount of sleep and naptime. Hmmm – okay. Thanks, doc. In my own household, my husband functions very efficiently on little to no sleep- he is a genius in my opinion anyway. Of course, I am biased. Then, there’s me – I do not work well on little to no sleep because I have always needed 9-10 hours to be an energetic, positive person. I have another friend who is a complete wreck no matter how much sleep she gets. Really? Am I a bad parent because I do not let my child cry it out and put her to sleep at a set time? Really? What is the standard by which we judge parents these days? By how regular their kids sleep in the middle of the day and at night? As I read these books, I feel less like a parent and more like a robot- conditioned to do things one way – the right way – or be judged a bad parent for ever and ever, especially when the child comes back from school with a behavior report. Oh yeah, that is all linked to how I did not make them have a sleeping schedule when they were an 8-month infant!
In the first few weeks of my daughter’s life, I learned that I needed to filter what the pediatrician told me because they did not know my child and I had to trust my instinct and protect this little life. In the first few months of my daughter’s life, I learned that I needed to filter what the family members told me – she was fine – she was getting enough breast milk, and sure enough – she was! I have been filtering things since I was twelve years old but now that I am responsible for a life, I have to be even more discerning in what I believe and what I will be lead to believe. No, she does not need specialty toy X valued at $69.99 at Babies R Us to succeed in life. Heck, my daughter loves to play with our phone, remote control, and Tupperware. She is happy with a spoon and a pot. So, as I embark on this journey to try to get my daughter on a schedule, I need to learn more than ever to filter the comments, the advice, and read the books I want to read and take from them the lessons that matter to me and fit our lifestyle.
Subjectively speaking of course, I am not a bad parent. I am not a bad mother, but a mother who truly cares about her little one enough to not believe all the hype or be sucked into a world where there is a right way and a wrong way. Here’s an objective standard for you: As you read through the hype and filter it, make time to love your child – the best way you know how and everything outta turn out fine.