Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Choices: what's best for me may not be for you

I'm feeling really random these days so I've taken to writing about what's on my mind... Tuesday seems to be "What's the crazy lady feeling today?" day so this week, I want to talk parenting.

After spending most of my teenage years as "the" neighbourhood babysitter, then working as a nanny, having two nephews and a niece (not to mention the 11 step nieces and nephews I have), I should be pretty good at this parenting thing. If all this experience taught me anything, its that when it comes to your own kid, all bets are off.

Nothing I learned in all those years working in childcare prepared me for the adventure (and misadventure) that has been being Brennan's Mom. I learned many things in those years of taking care of other peoples kids but the one that was a 'hard line' was...

Cosleeping! Specifically, NO cosleeping should ever occur.

TroubleMaker sleeping: 15 months old
It was the demolishing of my Golden Rule (by cosleeping) that made me realize I knew nothing about parenting. All the tips and tricks I shared over the years with my new parent friends was worthless. I was two steps beyond tired. TroubleMaker did not sleep. Ever. His sleeping was so infrequent, when it happened, we took pictures.

Five years later, he finally sleeps through the night (and has, in all fairness, since a little after he turned three and a half) and we are at the point that we can lay down with him and get back up once he falls asleep. Every couple of weeks, this backfires and he wakes up, but for the most part we are back to 'normal' (or as normal as we can expect).

This works for us, mostly. We are often criticized (as we were for breastfeeding until he a little over three years) but it is a choice we made.

So what prompts this? The co-sleeping is part of a parenting method we've tried to employ called attachment parenting. One of the things we've learned is no system is perfect, no one system works for any one child and that when something isn't working for the parent, it may be time to start changing things.

Tonight, TroubleMaker tried to sleep in his own bed (well, in the spare bed, we gave away his bed). He was successful in the sense he tried. He went to bed in his own bed, he stayed there for 20 minutes. He didn't get up; he stayed there and when we checked on him, he asked to try again another night.

I'm immensely proud of him. It was a huge step for him and towards his independence, which was the overarching goal of this whole parenting journey.

So my only tip to new and expecting parents is:

The first rule of parenting is that all preconceived notions of how things should be will (likely be) tossed out the window. The second one is get a good book, read it, buy another good book, read it and get yet another book and read that one too and then pass them all on to some other expecting parents and laugh while you're up all night with your non-sleeping child like I was.

Being a mother is the single most hardest thing I've ever done. My son is an amazing human being and I love him with every single inch of my person and I wouldn't change a moment of it (well, maybe me not sleeping through the night from week eight of the pregnancy until he was 40 months old)!

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