Posts Tagged ‘toddlerhood’

Motherly Advice: A New Child-Rearing Manual

June 19, 2012

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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