Sunday, December 12, 2010

Parenting is heart work

Parenting is such a personal thing.

Some parents choose to have children and then spoil them rotten with all the things they never received as a kid as if material items really mattered.

Some parents feel spanking children is wrong and others swear by a swift swat to the hiney to bring about an attitude adjustment.

Some parents feel the need to schedule every moment of their children's lives while others feel that free time -- even time to be bored -- is critical in their development.

Some parents feel like you should dictate your baby's schedule and others say let the baby dictate the schedule since they can't truly adhere to a schedule.

Some parents think telling their children the truth about Santa is preventing them from heartbreak and some parents would be heartbroken to not have that fantasy alive in their own homes.

Some parents are more worried about being friends with their children rather than being their parent.

Some parents feel like babies belong in the crib from day one and anything else is just a tragedy while others feel like bonding with their children, even co-sleeping is a way to stay close.

Where are you? Where am I? I'm somewhere in between all of those. We are all "that" parent because there isn't anyone other than us that will feel the way we do about those issues. It's a blessing we're not all the same because that would be rather boring, don't you think?

Take sleeping...

With Joshua, I nursed him and his room was literally a door away from mine so it wasn't a big deal for him to be in a crib. We made the mistake of rocking him to sleep in a glider so he felt like he needed movement to fall asleep and if you woke him before you got him down in the crib... Lord have mercy, you get to start all over again. He would cry so badly if you tried to let him cry it out (again, what some people swear by) that he'd throw up all over himself, the bed, bedding and carpet. So it was a quick bath, laundry ... frankly, it wasn't worth it.

Drew. Drew and I co-slept. Andy didn't sleep in the bedroom with us because a) he snores b) I'm a VERY light sleeper c) he felt like if Drew was in the bed he'd roll over on him and thus he couldn't sleep comfortably and d) it was just easier on everyone but by the 5th or 6th month, we moved him to a crib and we did let him cry it out for a couple of nights and let me tell you that is the absolute hardest time I've ever had. It is absolutely gut wrenching to let your little baby scream for you and you not come answer their cries. I stood outside his door sobbing. Is that really the way it's SUPPOSED to be?

Now there is Ben. And, again, I co-sleep. Why? Because I love the moments that I would miss if he were in a crib. I love that he wakes up next to me and pats my arm... I love in the darkness after my eyes have adjusted that I can lay back and watch him play with his hands in the air... how I can hold my hand up there and he will grab the pinkie and a finger and hold on tight as if everything is okay because he KNOWS that I'm right there. When he gets a little chilly, he scootches all the way over and lays right next to me... snuggling is an instinct. If he were in a crib, what would he snuggle with? I would miss this moment of him needing me and me being there to provide whatever it is for him. There are things I"m sacrificing to do this and I totally understand it -- more importantly, so does my husband. And he supports me.

This is my last child and these moments I want to savor forever. I don't expect to have a three year old in bed with me (well, unless there's a scary thunderstorm and his brothers won't let him in theirs) but I know these moments are fleeting and I just want to be here to take it all in. Not get him down so that I can do whatever else i need to do that just can't be done with him around.

I have a friend that is like, "Oh get that baby in his crib," or, "You need to get out." And, I get where she's coming from but for me, this is the season that I'm in. She is not so for me to expect her to get where I am right now, I can't. I've done this with my other ones and they didn't turn out rotten... and nothing bad came of it. It was just a season in life that I embraced because being a mother to my children was what I needed to do for me at that time. And, I'm in "that season" right now with another one.

I know too soon he WILL be in his crib and all these little moments that we share will be long gone and that makes me so sad. I mean, he sleeps through the night already so it's not like I need to be thee to nurse him... it's just these quiet moments that he and I share together in the glow of a dimming computer screen... I get to listen to the gurgles...and to him sing (reminds me of Gizmo on The Gremlins)... and I get to listen to his little mmm mmm mmm mmm's as he soothes himself to sleep. These moments are priceless. Too soon, he'll be off to the playground with his friends and not wanting a thing to do with his mom so why wouldn't I want to cherish these moments now?

So, before you judge another mom or just have an adverse opinion to say to someone about their parenting style-- unless it's blatantly obvious they're doing something detrimental to that kiddo's physical or mental health or their own, consider it just may be a season in their life that they're choosing to embrace differently than your own.

Parenting is truly heart work. Some people's hearts are just in a different place than yours at the time... but that doesn't make it wrong.

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