I’ve learned the hard way that most things in life are not clean cut like they seem in self-helps or textbooks.
I remember reading through What To Expect When You’re Expecting, and everything seeming so cut and dry. If labor starts to feel rough, get an epidural. After you have the baby, start breastfeeding. After two days in the hospital, take the baby home. Things are not always as easy as they sound.
This is especially true for raising a child. People everywhere write on the subject like they are experts, and as a result we clueless parents eat their words up like candy. Pinterest is overwhelmed with articles about “How to get your child to sleep through the night,” and “How to calm a fussy baby,” but the truth is sometimes we just need to figure things out on our own.
I read an article recently that claimed to ensure my child would sleep through the night at six weeks if i followed these seven steps. After reading it, I felt a little discouraged. I felt like saying, “but my baby doesn’t always like to be swaddled,” and “we are not always at home during the day so that he can nap in his crib.” There was no way her seven step plan was going to help my baby sleep any better.
I continued perusing Pinterest, browsing article after article, waiting to find one that was going to help me when it hit me: my daughter is sleeping through the night. She’s sleeping an eleven hour stretch. She started that around ten months. And before that? Eight hours. Sure, it took some time for her to figure out how to sleep on her own, but she did it. And I helped her. Suddenly I realized that maybe I know more than I think! I figured out how to help my daughter take good naps, and she learned how to sleep in her crib through the night. And you know what? I will figure out how to do the same with my six week old. But it took me figuring some things out on my own.
Don’t even get me started on teething! Sometimes it’s terrible, and other times teeth pop up and you have no idea. My daughter’s first two teeth kind of came in together, so it was rough. Fever, crying, the whole she-bang. How were we supposed to treat it? I took to the Internet and read about Amber teething necklaces, different oils that could be rubbed on the gums, sucking on a frozen washcloth and more. So, which way was the right way to treat teething?
Here’s the thing: there’s no right way. There’s my way, and there’s your way, and there’s your friend down the street’s way. You have to figure some things out on your own through trial and error.
I was talking to a friend recently who said she was afraid to have kids because she worried that she wouldn’t be able to calm her child when they were crying. She was afraid of being in a situation and not knowing what to do. Being the friend that I am, I assured her that she would find herself in that situation, more than once. It’s part of parenthood. There are going to be times that you won’t know what to do. But you know? You’re going to figure it out, and you’re going to pat yourself on the back and be all the better for it.
My mom gave me some great advice when I became a new mom. She told me that anymore we are so quick to jump online and research things and question ourselves that it clouds our ability to solve the problem ourselves. She told me that I needed to take a step away from Googling everything and develop my own instincts. And those are priceless.
In an age where information is at our fingertips, it’s important to learn not to abuse it – or over indulge yourself. You are the expert on your own children! It just takes a little figuring out!