Chapters End Where New Ones Begin

For the better part of the last ten years, I’ve been either pregnant or nursing. Two days ago, Buddy decided that he no longer needs to nurse to go to sleep.

I knew the end was coming. He’s four years old and I didn’t want to rush it, knowing that he was my last baby. I told myself that when he was four and a half, if he hadn’t stopped on his own, I would cut him off. That deadline came and went and I didn’t stick to it, but it wasn’t long before he made the decision himself.

I’m happy to have my body back. It’s finally mine again.

But I’m also sad about that chapter ending.

Boo is halfway through third grade now and Peanut is halfway through kindergarten. Buddy will (hopefully) be starting school this fall and I have no idea when my kids got to be so big. You don’t see them growing up in the little moments; it’s when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture that you realize how far you’ve come.

Everyone’s a Critic

Someone once told me that there are two things you should never take advice on: relationships and parenting. You have no idea just how true that is.

Everyone is a critic. Everyone knows better than you – not just the people who have had kids but even those friends of yours who swore they’d never become parents themselves. Everyone has an opinion and you will hear it all. Parenting is hard enough, but add on all the criticisms and you’ll be pulling your hair out in no time.

Not everyone agrees with the style of parenting that my boyfriend and I have chosen for our daughter, who is now nearly five weeks old. (Hard to believe it’s been that long already.) If we had concerned ourselves with how other people perceive us and our parenting skills, we would probably be losing our minds.

I hate – hate – that I get bombarded from all sides. One of the things I feel very strongly about, as an example, is the “cry it out method.” The majority of my friends who are parents, as well as my own mother, have told me that when my daughter is inconsolable, sometimes I should just put her down and cry it out. There are all kinds of articles and studies out there that explain why “cry it out” could be detrimental to a child’s well-being. This is why I never leave my daughter to cry when she’s upset. When she’s crying, it’s not because she’s manipulating me – she either has a need that has to be filled or she just wants to be comforted. Sometimes, the latter is all she needs.

We also co-sleep. If we didn’t, none of us would ever get any sleep and we would all suffer. It took some getting used to, and some nights can be difficult because she insists on being right up against me, but it’s a thousand times easier than getting up every hour to pull her out of the bassinet to comfort her. She actually sleeps through the night this way. We also exclusively breastfeed, so co-sleeping just makes sense. Instead of getting up to put her on my breast, I can pull it out and go right back to sleep. I can’t tell you how often she and I have fallen asleep while she’s in the middle of nursing during the night. Hey, it works for us.

And that’s my point. We have a very specific way of how we want to raise our daughter and our methods work for us. I could go on and on about the choices we make for her, but that’s not really the point of this post. What I think all parents need to know is that you have to do what works for you. New parents have all this pressure from friends and family and even complete strangers about what is right and how they should parent their children. The truth is, it’s nobody’s damn business how you choose to raise your child as long as you believe you’re doing right by him or her.

Everyone else is going to have an opinion on what you’re doing and there will always be someone who thinks you’re doing it wrong. The trick is to block all that out because those opinions don’t matter. What matters is your child, forget about the other stuff.

When it comes to relationships and parenting, it’s usually best to go with your gut, even if it’s contrary to all the other advice you’ve received.