|How many parents does it take to dress a baby?|
Most people will eventually get to a point in their life where they can consider themselves a "parenting expert." Then they have children. If having a child has taught me any one thing (and believe me, it has taught me much more than that) it is not to judge or attempt to compete with other parents. It is so easy to fall into the habit of comparing your parenting skills with those of your peers by assessing where your little one falls into the amorphous developmental spectrum.
So easy, and so completely silly. But how often do I get asked (or catch myself asking someone else) questions like, "Does your baby sleep through the night yet?" Or "Is your baby crawling yet?" "How many teeth does your baby have?" etc.. etc... And that is just the tip of the iceberg as far as topics you can enter into "mom-petitions" over. Don't even get me started on who is the best baby-wearing, cloth-diapering, organic-home-made baby food making, crafty supermom who whittles teething rings out of the bark of the sacred yew tree. (Its me, of course, so you all can stop trying so hard now)
The thing about parenting is...there are a lot of ways to love and care for a child, and as the African proverb goes: what works for you, works for you.
I was over at some friends' house the other day and they have a little girl who is 2 months younger than Sadie. It was interesting to watch their approach to parenting and see how they do things differently than Loren and I, and you know what I saw when I looked at their little girl? A delightful, rosy-cheeked, happy baby. Sadie's cousin Dimitri is visiting right now, and at 4 months he already sleeps for 8+ hour stretches at night AND he goes to sleep by himself. He is another happy, smiling bundle of joy. The thing that these two little ones and Sadie have in common? They all are lucky enough to have loving, supportive parents to care for them in their own ways.
It is easy to see other babies doing things that you wish maybe your own baby was doing (ahem, sleeping through the nigh. *sigh* or being a small, normal-sized baby, etc...) and then get down on your own parenting process. Sadie sleeps with us in the bed. Actually, she sleeps with me. She wakes me up several times a night, not so much to eat anymore, but just because she wakes up and starts crawling around like a little zombie baby until she bonks her head on the wall and starts crying. She would probably eventually put herself back to sleep (or knock herself out) if she was in her crib in her own room, and I wouldn't have to wake up. But it is so easy for me to just reach out to her, snuggle her up, and soothe her back to sleep. What's worse is that I have no exit plan for getting her out of our bed, in fact, I like her in there. I won't lie. There are some nights that I lay there trying to fall asleep, crammed in between my two snoring loves, and I just want to have a bit of space to myself--to sleep in a position of optimal comfort and be able to roll this way and that without worrying about stealing the covers from one, or covering the other with the covers. So I see how some people can totally NOT co-sleep.
Another thing that is stressing me out about Sadie right now is her impressive level of separation anxiety. It is so hard to leave her with a sitter or even a family member (which we have rarely done anyway) because she cries and cries. She just wants her mom or dad. I find myself apologizing for her a lot on this topic--and also to whoever was watching her and got to listen to her cry for x number of minutes. It is stressful on all of us. There are people who suggest that this behavior is the beginning of Sadie being a spoiled child, and it makes me question myself. Can I, should I be doing something different? But I don't know what a parent CAN do, apart from leaving your baby with sitters on a regular basis and letting them just cry it out. I just can't do that. So I am trying to have faith, faith in my own process and the confidence that if I remain loving and consistent that Sadie will turn out okay. I would just like to take a leave of absence from this whole mom-petition thing. Maybe we can have a rematch when are kids are in their 20's or 30's and raising families of their own... then we will have some idea of how effective our parenting strategies really were. Still, I think for the most part its going to be a tie.