I read an article the other day [link at bottom of article] and it got me thinking.
It was about sleep and bedtime with little ones. It was our life. We indulge in what some might view as a "coddling" bedtime routine. And we have kids who wake in the night long past a year- and multiple times a night. And we don't practice cry it out. And we will always do what we feel is best for our family. And everyone should- despite what others will think..
We've had some of our closest friends not understand why we don't get babysitters aside from our parents, and why we don't ask our parents to babysit more often (read article below because it just words it perfectly). We have lost the flexibility to go out at night and we know we'll regain it again one day- so we aren't bothered by it or worried. We miss our friends, but we just smile and say they will one day when they have kids (even if they do things completely differently).
It's tough. You don't want to defend or justify your choices. We have decided, despite the tough nights or the occasional long bedtime tuck ins, that we feel best setting our kids up to enjoy falling asleep, feeling loved and safe, and knowing we are always there- even if we are half sleep walking, sprinting to the toilet to pee before being stuck in a rocker for hours holding a baby (my husband is a saint and will do this job because he somehow can fall asleep in any position), or drinking four cups of coffee the next day to keep us going.
But it's really more than just sleep. As parents, you are constantly evaluating your decisions and actions. You are always assessing the outcomes and results, and trying to figure out if its working, and giving you the outcome you desired. It's CONSTANT. I know we can't beat ourselves up, and we have to remember that we are human and cannot be perfect 100% of the time. Or 90% of the time. Or 80%... or who knows the right amount?! But we can love fiercely, follow our hearts and drown out the opinions from others- although that is SO hard.
It dawned on me that no matter what you do as parent- you are sorting it in one of two brackets.
- Are you Coddling your child?
Ex. -Nursing/holding/singing/rocking/co sleeping
-Hugging and kissing them after they fall or get hurt
-Allowing them to bring a cuddly to the store/party/park/etc
-Making multiple foods until they eat
-Reading them another book because they asked even though you already said
- Are you damaging your child?
Ex. -crying it out/forceful weaning/taking away a habit they love
-Yelling at them/giving them a time out
-Giving them chocolate
-Leaving them at daycare/new babysitter/nanny
-Lying to them about Santa
You get what I am saying. If you are too affectionate, or don't scream at your child- you're too soft. And if you are shouting at them to stop, or not allowing them to get messy/explore- you are too strict. You just can't win by these standards.
Of course there are extremes. If you shelter your child from the world and never let anyone talk to them- yes that's probably going to have repercussions at some point. And of course if you call your child nasty names or hit them, you may be creating some serious emotional damage. (**I am not a psychologist or doctor...I just know I choke up if a customer service rep sounds annoyed at me, so I imagine if my parents called me and idiot and meant it I'd be distraught)
But for the sake of anyone who is even questioning their motherhood decisions, I'm going to assume you love your child, want whats best and are just trying to figure out your own path. And therefore, you are doing it right. Want to hold your baby as they fall asleep til they are 5? Great- do it. Chances are they will not be a 15 years old and want you lying there next to them as they fall asleep. Want to cut your kid off from nursing and switch to formula because it's not for you- do it. They will be better if you feel better and it won't mean you mess them up for life.
You can't make everyone happy all the time. That goes for yourself, your kids, your husbands/wives, and your onlookers (who really don't matter).
Motherhood is so much easier when you stop trying to explain yourself and just do what is best for you and your families.
Link to article about sleep: