Friday, February 8, 2008

I Was Young and Idiotic Innocent

Before I had a baby of my own, I had opinions on parenting.
Shocker, I know! Me opinionated about something? That's just crazy!

Since having my own baby, especially since having a fussy one, I now understand that I KNEW NOTHING!
To anyone whom I voiced my uneducated opinion, please accept my apologies if I was an idiot.

I couldn't believe when I'd hear how some mothers would let their babies sleep in car seats or on them or any place but a crib or bed! Surprisingly, I didn't have an issue with co-sleeping, but that was a bed so it made sense to me. But why would anyone let their baby sleep anywhere but a crib or bed?
Ha! "Let." Like parents always get a choice? My daughter would not sleep anywhere but on Londo or me except the swing and then only at night and swaddled. We tried other things again and again, but she wasn't having any of it. I was so happy when we finally were able to co-sleep, and that only worked with her swaddled and nursed to sleep lying down. It took months to get her into her crib at all, and sleeping through the night? Only when she's good and ready.

I knew someone who said their child didn't like the car, which was why they couldn't come visit. In my mind, they simply hadn't gotten the child used to the car. She should have taken him in the car more often, and for longer and longer periods, until he simply adjusted. After all, babies were supposed to love car rides.
And then we had the Pumpkin who hates the car almost more than anything else in the world! She hates being confined in the car seat (in any seat with straps, really), she hates just sitting there, and when she was newborn she especially hated that she wasn't being held. We have suffered through short and long and very long car rides with her screaming most (if not all) of the way. I can't tell you how many times we've had to stop the car so I could get her out and hold her to calm her down because she was screaming so hard she was having trouble breathing. There was no "just get her used to it" though we tried and tried.

I didn't understand why some parents said they had to hold the baby all the time. I was on board with "attachment parenting" and the idea of wanting to hold the baby often. But if a parent wanted to get something done, they should just put the baby down for a little while and go do it.
Enter The-Baby-Who-Would-Not-Be-Put-Down. Seriously. She would not be put down for more than a few minutes, definitely less than 5, for the first three months of her life (with the exception of the swing, and then at night only). This was another area in which we tried getting her used to being put down in the bassinet, in a swing, in a crib, in anything! She would quickly work up to screaming sobs. She would not simply adjust. Not until her body was old enough and she was ready. Now, she still likes to be held a lot (especially when she's upset), but she loves to be down crawling and walking and playing on her own. But it was all on her time schedule. I would not have kept the remaining threads of my sanity if it hadn't been for the slings.

Overall, I thought that children should just enter the world as part of the family. Things shouldn't have to change too much, as long as you just fit them into your life and didn't make the child the focus of the entire house.
Ha! Ha ha! Hahahahahahaha! See what an idiot I was?

I really thought all children were pretty malleable. I didn't realize that they came pre-programmed with their own personalities and temperments from birth that would sometimes not mesh with what (g)you* want them to do/be. The other day, Don Mills Diva wrote an excellent post about how a lot of parenting depends on pure luck, especially relating to a child's health and temperment. She makes excellent points, ones I wish I knew before I gave birth.

But I can't change the idiot I was. I can only look forward and try not to be an idiot in the future. I keep this lesson mind: I cannot know what it is like to be that parent or even person until I've been in their shoes or until I've tried to wrestle their child into the shoes that are-to-tight-and-I-don't-want-to-wear-them!!! I make this pledge: I will strive not be a Sanctimommy, while I continue to do what I think is best for my child and my child's personality. I will also try not to let others get to me when they simply don't know or understand what I'm going through and what my daughter's personality is like. Usually, people are just trying to help and mean well. Usually, I did too. I didn't even know that I didn't know a thing.

*(g)you stands for "general you" or "group you" or "plural you" or in italian "voi."


Don Mills Diva said...

Yup - it's amazing when you realize that growing up involves figuring out how little you know about pretty much everything...

Cloud said...

This is so true! I often wonder if this is the source of the occasional conflict between parents and non-parents. From the outside, so much of what we parents do must seem strange, wrong, and annoying. (Does she really have to stand there and bounce like that? Why is she playing peekaboo with her baby while putting her in the carseat? Why doesn't she just let that baby cry a little bit? A little crying never hurt anyone...) Little do they know that the chances are we're doing whatever we're doing to try to prevent an even more annoying meltdown.

ImpostorMom said...

haha, so this is what you thought at seeing pictures of Boog sleeping in his car seat in the crib. That kid slept in his car seat until he was 4 months old. It was the only way anyone got more than 3 consecutive hours of sleep.

I totally get what you are saying though. It's sort of like when someone told me 5 days before I delivered to enjoy it because they are so much harder to take care of it on the outside. I was like oh my gawd I cannot believe you would say that to me, I am so uncomfortable and ready to be done. Little did I know, little did I know.

Burgh Baby's Mom said...

I'm pretty sure that anybody who thinks they know the "right" way to raise a kid doesn't have any of their own. Either that, or they're are greatly mistaken. BTW, there have been studies that have shown that we are born with over 90% of our personality traits already established (I do personality styles training once in a while). We are who we are and have very little room to change it!

Shellie said...

Now that baby went and made you wise! Same for me. I SO understand your baby!

Becoming Mommy said...

I have to admit, I wasn't that shocked about how flexible I'd have to be. Being from large families, both Hubby and I knew we had to adjust to the kiddos...not the other way. We were shocked on just the sheer amount of work it all was though. I guess academically knowing what parenthood should be is different than actually doing it.
We were lucky. Sasha has his quirks, which means sometimes we've had to be inventive, but overall he's an easy baby.