Motherly Advice: A New Child-Rearing Manual

I’ve heard it and I’m over it.  I’ve heard every old belief, every story, and every ‘rule’ about child rearing possible and most of them don’t apply to my child.  Is it possible that they don’t apply to anyone other than the ego of the person that is touting the advice?  It may be.

When I had my son I was open to all manner of advice, and unfortunately I tried it all, but to no avail whatsoever.  You see, my son was unique in that he was born as himself, infinitely individual, unlike any other model ever made and only similar in that he was one of a species called human.  No two are the same.  Let’s start there, shall we?  A rational, totally left brained approach would have us believe that if it works for one, it works for all.

What are the things they tell you to do with babies?  Put them in a crib to sleep, they say, and swaddle them, let them scream it out.  You should take them for a ride in a car to get them to nap, but don’t ever let them sleep in your bed because they will never, ever fall asleep again by themselves for the rest of their natural lives.  Yes, someone said that to me.  There are plenty more where those came from, but I don’t feel like digging into that slime pit at the moment.

Our child would only sleep with me or my husband, screamed louder if we swaddled him, screamed as if on fire at the sight of a car, and made our ears bleed with the decibels inside a car from the sheer terror of the movement.  I have a memory regretfully branded into my brain of when I tried putting him in a crib.  He screamed at naptime daily until he vomited and shit himself for three days straight, and then was wary of me, his own mother, for two weeks afterwards.  (I was following the directions in the book which told me not to rescue him under any circumstances, while I sobbed silently outside the door, curled up in a ball on the floor.)  Both of us sweating and shaking, I finally came to my senses and realized cribs were not for us.

You see, he was too smart for Dr. Ferber who invented “ferberizing”, but I didn’t know this yet.  I allowed Dr. Ferber to alienate me from my own infant.  I just read last week that the other famous doctor whose advice I tried to follow like a good mommy, Dr. Sears, left a tidbit of crucially important information out of his books and has recently added the information.  Thank you, Dr. Sears, we are still suffering the repercussions of your neglect, 12 years later.

Do I carry a little bit of self righteousness about this topic?  You bet I do.  I feel that I have run alongside the best of them, and any one of us who’s had a child who doesn’t fit into the regular mold (as if there is one) and has been patronized, ridiculed, judged, advised, and bullied until she builds an armor like that of a Roman soldier,  I have earned stripes so deep that I’m loathe to explain anything to anyone anymore.

One thing I will tell you is that I have some wisdom to share.  My wisdom doesn’t include telling you what to do with your baby, or how to be a good mother.  My wisdom doesn’t give you some pat answer that’s going to fix everything.  My wisdom is about trusting your own wisdom, because every single mother is a unique being and every child is a new creation.  There’s never been one like her and never will be again.  You do get a manual, but you have to listen in the quiet for the information.  You have to listen to your heart and your gut, and you have to be able to withstand the onslaught of everyone else’s opinions and then not waver in your truth.

If I’ve come away with anything from the gift of motherhood, it’s the realization that I have to trust myself above all others, and that I have my beautiful, bright, highly intelligent, uniquely perfect son to thank for it, not Dr. Know It All.

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6 Responses to “Motherly Advice: A New Child-Rearing Manual”

  1. Melanie Meadors Says:

    Oceana–you sound like you might be the person to ask about this–when my son was born *gulp* ten years ago, something didn’t jive right with Dr. Sears and I, but that was so long ago that I can’t remember what it was. Now, I’m hearing more and more about him being a pioneer of attachment parenting, etc. And I’m not sure what I missed. What was the piece of info he left out? I’m wondering if NOT seeing that piece of info caused me to discard his books those years ago.

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  2. Oceana Says:

    His books gave the impression that you couldn’t put your child down for a second and had to attend to every little whimper. His grown son is now saying that his parents weren’t that extreme and that his father has gone back into the books and added/changed some details. I bent over backwards, without a moment to care for myself, trying to follow his advice and burned out completely. There was some good advice in those books, but the common sense of a mother putting her own needs first so that she had the energy to care for her child was missing, imo. Thanks for leaving a great conversational comment!

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  3. Crowing Crone Joss Says:

    Amen!

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  4. Oceana Says:

    Lol! Yes, Amen indeed!

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  5. Marc israel Says:

    Just wanted you to know I deeply appreciate the reflection, the wisdom and heart you put into each written piece Oceana. In raising my own daughter I did get caught up in thinking what I read or heard was expert advice, and absolute truth and only way to raise a child but now I use this a reminder of that fallacy. “I am not your guru and you are not mine. but within our heart lies direction to discern what for us is truth and light the divine.’ namaste

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  6. Oceana Says:

    Thanks, Marc. It seems we learn this after the fact, or at least well into the process, and I wonder if it’s true only for first babies, or for the ones that come after. Do we make all of the mistakes on that first one? And if so, how do we reconcile that if we only end up having that one. These are some rich questions to ponder that I’m sure lead to an ever expanding spiritual evolvement if we’re willing to look deeply and live authentically. I appreciate your reflections o this and love the quote…Bless…

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