Being a parent is hard. Before Raleigh was born I had all sorts of ideas of exactly how I would parent. I saw people do things well and thought, “I’ll do that, too, and my child will respond in the same way and it will be great. I’m going to be an awesome parent.” And I saw people do things not so well, and I thought, “hhmmmm…” And overall, I think that’s okay. I think it’s okay to observe other parents and take the good and leave the bad, because learning from other people is a gift. Seriously, Andy and I are so thankful to be able to raise Raleigh in a community where we can learn alongside other parents who are all trying to figure this out. And what may be bad for us is good for others, and vice versa, and that’s okay.
But so many of my ideals in how I thought I would parent changed after I met my daughter and got to know her a little. I sit here almost 14 months in, and things look really different in some ways than I had originally imagined. How I parent has become more about what’s best for Raleigh and less about what’s most convenient for me. And that’s a good thing. I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that my selfish ideals that make life more convenient were crushed in a way. And I’m weary, too. Because we are a family, and every decision we make can’t be about “what’s best for Raleigh” because the world doesn’t revolve around her and sometimes we just have to do what’s best for the family. Anyway, here’s what I never saw coming…
1) I thought I wouldn’t nurse Raleigh past one year. My goal was always to nurse her for a year, but I figured after that she would naturally become disinterested and she would wean because babies hate nursing when they become toddlers, right?? Looking back, I’m not sure why I thought there would be some magic switch, but I think I was (and sometimes still am) very much in denial. At 14 months, she still isn’t much of an eater, and I’m not actively trying to wean her. I would be estatic if she just decided she was done, but I’m much more on her time table now. It’s a lot less stressful, and knowing that she’s still benefitting is just encouraging to me.
2) I thought I wouldn’t be on my phone in front of my daughter. Go ahead and laugh, but I honestly believed that my phone would sit on top of our mantle, only to be touched if it actually started ringing (which as many of you know would never happen because my phone is always on silent.) Before I was a parent, I would always see kids obsessed with their parents’ phones because their parents are always staring at them and I found that sad. Now, I’m not saying I’m on my phone all the time when I’m playing with Raleigh, but there are times when I need to text someone to make plans, or I want to take a picture of Raleigh, or I have a really important email, or I have to check my instagram feed because I haven’t checked it in the past hour. And OH my gosh. I’m terrible. Raleigh loves my phone now and we fight over it and most of the time she wins so that has somewhat solved the problem that I never anticipated would be a problem in the first place.
3) I thought I would let her “cry it out”. I thought this is what all sensible parents did because everybody knows that this is the only way to get your child to sleep through the night, and you’re really doing your baby and your whole family a favor by giving everyone the gift of sleep. I thought I would be one of those strong moms who could just work through the crying because you know it’s what’s best for everyone. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with sleep training, more power to you if you can do it. But we tried, and I couldn’t. It didn’t work for us. So now when Raleigh wakes up in the middle of the night I go in and calm her down and she goes back to sleep and one day she will sleep through the night. I feel confident of that, but it is not now.
4) I thought I could train her to love being held by other people. I thought if I let her be passed around as a baby then she would naturally grow to love it. I used to believe that you could “train” babies to love things they hate, to have certain personalities that they don’t have, and to not be bothered by bothersome things. But babies come packed full of a lot of personality and sometimes the nuture doesn’t change the nature.
5) I thought I could train her to fall asleep anywhere. Before Raleigh was born, I had read that apparently, if you teach babies to fall asleep in different locations around your house then they would naturally be able to sleep anywhere. I thought, “Great! Why doesn’t everyone do this?” And then I became a parent and thought, “WHO DOES THIS?” Raleigh sleeps in her crib because I don’t know…it has railings and it’s safe and she won’t fall out. I’m not going to put her to sleep in the kitchen because, I don’t know…I like to cook and she will cry and ruin my happy place. duh. I seriously believed though, that I could train her to sleep anywhere – on the floor, on a bench, in her carrier. And this works until about 6 months or so, and then things get a whole lot more complicated and bed times become a serious matter and we have to leave right now because if we stay a second longer then she will get overly tired and never sleep again!
So for those of you who walk alongside Andy and I and patiently let me change my mind about all things parenting, thank you. I love and appreciate you very much!