Being right is something I’m sort of giving up on at the moment. Not that I don’t think I’m ever right anymore, but needing to be right isn’t doing me any favors, and I need to let go.
I read a really interesting article lately, about the whole gluten-free, paleo, high-protein, caveman-food sort of thing that’s going on right now. It started out as an interview with the author of a best-selling book (about how gluten causes pretty much most of our modern diseases). He passionately talked about his claims, his book, the “one simple change” people could make to change their lives for the better. The piece went on to interview others, introduce the studies he used as evidence (which didn’t completely support his radical claims) and ended with the thoughtful statement that making a decision, and believing you’re “right” is what really makes a difference for people.
I totally agree. I’m not going to talk about the above-mentioned diet arena (because if you get me started, it’s a little hard to get me to stop), but I totally agree. People need to think they’re right. If you think the diet decisions you’re making are the “right” choices, you’ll probably feel better. If you believe your major life decisions were the right ones, you’re probably going to be happier. And if you believe that the choices you make as a parent are the right choices, things are probably going to work better. It’s about being right, and it’s about confidence….which I don’t have a lot of. But I’m working on it.
In the beginning, it was a little simpler. We’d do whatever it took to get Theo to eat okay, sleep okay, poop okay, and not cry. It was not easy, by any means–because he didn’t do all those things, despite our best efforts–but we didn’t really have to think if we were going about things the wrong way, the right way, or the maybe-okay way. We just did what we had to do.
Now that he’s four months, we have to worry about habits–bad habits, good habits–habits, habits, habits. We have to make sure he can fall asleep okay (without too much rocking, shushing, singing, crying (on anyone’s part), etc.) We have to make sure he STAYS asleep. We want him to not eat too much at night, and eat more during the day. We hope he’ll start gaining more weight, so we struggled over when to start solids. We’re worried because he’s started adamantly refusing a bottle (no matter what’s in it), which means I can’t really leave him for any amount of time. We want him to learn to play by himself for stretches of time.
I never thought I’d worry too much about what other moms thought. I thought I’d know what I’m doing, and I’d do it, and I’d feel comfortable in my Mom-skin. Unfortunately, that’s really not the case. As a nanny, I was confident. The moms told me what their plans were, and I followed through. I got a four-month old to start falling asleep by himself. I fed solids and changed diapers, and stopped feeding bananas, and started feeding pears with a couple of words from baby’s Mom. But now I’m baby’s Mom, and I have no one to tell me what to do. Or even if I did, I’d probably disagree, not follow the advice, and then feel even more conflicted than I already do.
The even bigger deal is that I was an awesome nanny. I was GREAT with the babies. I was patient as all get-out, playful, fun, stimulating, relaxing–whatever baby needed–I could do it. And I’m not just saying that because one of the moms occasionally pops by on here (Hi!). What’s really been hurting lately is that I’m not the mom I thought I’d be (especially the mom I thought I’d be, judging on my nannying abilities). Turns out, when I’m sleep deprived, my patience dwindles to next to nothing (who’da thunk it, right?) and I’m not as good at sleep training. I’m not as good at decision-making. I’m not even as good at putting cereal into little baby mouths.
And though I’m not really happy with the way things are going, I know that I really am being the best mom I can be. Sometimes, I think that’s really unfortunate–that as not-well as I think I’m doing some days, it’s still my best. But it’s all I can do. And I can resolve to do better the next day, and to remind myself that it’s not all hard. Theo laughs every time I nom his belly. That’s easy. At least that’s easy, and I don’t think there’s any controversy over the nomming of baby bellies. So I will nom Theo’s belly unabashedly, and do my best to muddle through the rest, and believe I’m right (at least some of the time).