motherhood,  Parenting

What’s Your Parenting Style?

Is there honestly a better way to strike up a lifelong friendship at mom’s group – or isolate and appall potential parent pals – than busting out some confessional-style admissions of the number of minutes hours you’ve let your little bundle of joy CIO sleep train on any given evening?

I think not.

It’s kind of the new litmus for casual encounters becoming ‘something more,’ kind of like a post-collegiate ‘what’s your major/sign/political affiliation/marian devotion of choice?’

Except more loaded.

I’ve learned the hard way (read: from direct experience) that not everyone thinks it’s amusing to mock your sleep-stunned child for failing to ‘learn from his mistakes’ and choosing instead to cry for 2 solid hours between the hours of 3 am and 5 am.

In fact, some parents find that quite cruel.

Color me sadistic, but after 15 months of running in to his royal highness at the slightest peep, I was about ready to throw in the towel on ever getting more than 4 solid hours myself, and resigned to the 3 cups of coffee each morning that restarted my heart after an excruciating night of torment. Also, I was 5 months pregnant. So if this little one comes out a little on the short side, we’ll all know why.

In a desperate act of stupidity, I turned to a virtual poll of my facebook audience and cried out for sleep tactics. I was losing the battles and the wars. There were few victories on our home front, and we were all downtrodden, wearied, huddled, etc. I figured soliciting some well-meaning cyber advice couldn’t hurt.

No stranger to facebook drama, I boldly stated my objectives and issued a call to arms for fellow parents. I think it was something like: “We no sleep good for long time, baby up wakes always no sleep cant drive car please help sleep anyone ohpleaseGodanyone ….”

And oh boy did I get some feedback.

It was a virtual full-spectrum panel on parenting advice, running the gamut from CIO while mommy physically removes herself from the house and goes to the 24 hour gym/a hotel/the backyard/anywhere so the crying doesn’t reach her sensitive ears and tug her heartstrings too tightly to a curious article citing the evolutionary reasoning that human babies were not meant to ‘sleep in their own caves, because saber-toothed tigers might eat them.’ End quote.

Needless to say I was enlightened, amused, and edified by the outpouring of opinion, commiseration and doctrinal instruction my sad plea elicited. And I came to a conclusion of my own:

Whatever works for your family, works for your family. So do that. 

Whether ‘that’ is co-sleeping (which in our household goes by the clever moniker ‘no-sleeping’), bed-sharing, bed-swapping, mattress on-the-floor-lying, baby-wearing, breastfeeding, bottle feeding, trough feeding, love and logic or love and complete absence of logic disciplining, crib-using, cloth-diapering, vaccine-injecting or vaccine-avoiding chiropractic pediatric medicine.

In other words: do your thang,mommas.

God gave you this particular child(ren) for a reason, and He has given you the resources and the resourcefulness to track down answers to (most) every situation you’ll encounter on a given day. The trick is to keep your mind – and heart – open, but to know when to close it down around something solid and workable.

Don’t feel capable of strapping your sweaty newborn to your chest in an Ergo carrier? Fine, toss him in the stroller and get your grocery shopping done.

Want to nap with wee bebe snuggled by your side in bed but feel better banishing her to the pack n play once the sun goes down? No problem!

The bottom line is, if it works for you and your particular child, then it works. Who knows why or why not, and who cares if you aren’t able to do Montessori-style home schooling with your precocious 2 year old and he doesn’t learn his colors for another 6 months?

In the grand scheme of things, these little bumps in the road are just that, and no matter what any well-intentioned (or perhaps massively-overreaching) practictioner of (insert parenting style here) tries to convince you of, you’re ultimately the world’s expert on your child.

And on yourself as a mother, come to think of it.

And every book that has ever been written is already out of date by the time your little one arrives in your arms (with our without drugs) – they hadn’t been born when it went to print, and you hadn’t become a mommy yet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to nesting feverishly and stocking the first 2 drawers of interior baby’s dresser with 800 Target-brand disposable diapers and fluffing my Grovia organic cotton inserts. Just in case.


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