Most days I feel like I’m getting the hang of this whole mom thing. My daughter won’t sleep without me or JT pressed up next to her, she won’t take milk anywhere except straight from the tap, and she is still working on being able to play on her own without constant entertainment from me for longer then 10 minutes at a time. But I’m handling it, rather well, if I do say so myself.
My mom friends and I all have different approaches, but we mostly stay out of each others business. We talk about what we are struggling with and go over our victories, and while we may offer suggestions to help others we aren’t judgey if they make different choices (at least not out loud…come on, we are still humans and humans are judgey, it is in our nature).
Then you go to a family function and are forced to question or justify the decisions you make as a parent. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and my in-laws (shocking, right?) and they aren’t pushy, which is good because I’m super stubborn and wouldn’t handle it well. ^.^ But there are still the unspoken questions that you can see in their eyes, or the off-hand comments about how they raised their children that differs from what you are doing. Just because we are handling parenthood differently doesn’t (in and of itself) make your choices or my choices any less valid!
“How is she sleeping? Through the night yet?”
First off, if you’ve had kids then you know sleep for a new mom (or dad) sucks. It doesn’t matter if your baby is a stellar sleeper, you still aren’t getting the kind of sleep restful, no-stress sleep that you were before. Also, I didn’t sleep through the night even before I had a tiny wailing alarm clock, I woke up constantly to shift positions, go to the bathroom, or take a sip of water. The only difference is that my almost 6 month old doesn’t know how to put herself back to sleep yet. She will learn when she is ready to learn, and in the meantime, I won’t sleep well, and unfortunately asking me about how she and I are sleeping is only reminding me how little sleep I’ve actually had.
“Are you feeding her rice cereal/baby food/solid food/cows milk/etc?”
She doesn’t need rice cereal as it serves no purpose besides providing empty calories. Store bought baby food shows her that she gets different foods then mom and dad eat; and to be honest, I’m not cooking two separate meals for dinner (I have enough trouble with one meal) so she better get used to eating what we eat early on. Solid foods before one are just for fun and the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) doesn’t recommend them before certain developmental milestones are reached; she has reached them, but only just and we are taking our time about it because we want to introduce the right foods to encourage healthy eating from the get go. Cow’s milk is made for baby cows, and while I may sometimes feel like a milk cow, my daughter is not a calf and does not need cow’s milk…in fact if we eat a balanced diet of fresh veggies, adults don’t need cow’s milk either.
“Isn’t she a little old/young to be doing XYZ? Sitting, rolling over, nursing so often, etc?”
Just because she is more or less advanced then your kid was at that age doesn’t mean she is slow or moving too fast; if she was truly struggling with something, as an involved parent, I would be working with her on it. Babies progress in the areas that are the most interesting to them, just like adults. She isn’t rolling all over the place because she is more interested in working on hand-eye coordination; similarly, I recently got super into drawing with markers, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get back to drawing on the computer once I’ve mastered this new skill.
Parenting is hard work.
No matter how you do it, parenting is tough. New parents and parents of full grown adults with their own kids have all gone through the trenches at some point in their journey; just because you got out of it already doesn’t mean that you didn’t go through it. As parents, we are always up for talking about how our kids did or are doing, just be aware when you start talking to other parents currently in the trenches about how you raised your kids because it may be coming off more as criticism then parent share circle.
Side note for any of our family reading this: You are amazing. No jokes; no ifs, ands, or buts. You know very well that we value your input; you also know that JT and I will raise our kids exactly as we please and will completely ignore your input if we decide to. ^.^