Motherhood is a lifelong learning process. First we have principles… then children.
As time passed and the number of my kids grew, I had to learn to let go of some things. It wasn’t easy, but it had to be done, in order to survive the everydays. It’s not that I became an unresponsible mother, but there are some things, I had strict principles of with my first child, but don’t/didn’t interest me for the fourth or fifth time.
What do I exactly mean by that? Breastfeeding or infant formula, dummy or thumb, housebreaking, introducing solid food to the baby’s diet, making our flat ultrasafe because of the child – these are the topics I see from another point of view, than I did with at the birth of Big Boy or Big Girl.
All of my children were breastfed, and all of them stopped suckling on their own. Big Boy was the winner, he decided to stop suckling he was 11-month-old, the others received breastmilk until they were 9-month-old. I never was against infant formula, but deep in my heart I was glad we didn’t need it (human nature is like that: we know with our brain that we shouldn’t have preconceptions concerning anything or anybody, but our hearts often say elsehow).
And then came LittleOne. His development stopped when he had 4 months. He was so skinny, none of his clothes fit him anymore. Although I felt I had enough breastmilk, he didn’t gain weight, furthermore… he lost weight. I accepted the doctor’s advice without any second thoughts: I immediately started giving him infant formula with the breastmilk and he caught up within some weeks, later we could leave the formula.
This event was the one which eventually convinced me: one should not judge anybody, and I will never question what and why another mother does what she does to feed her child.
I had a similar experience concerning the dummy-thumb question. Before my kids were born, I decided not to give them dummies, for no reason or so… Only because I said so. The books I browsed through said that dummies were more harmful than thumb-suckling. (If I had read other books, would I have thought otherwise? Maybe, but it turned out this way.) It was pretty easy for me to hold myself to my priniples, since none of my first four kids wanted this form of self-comforting.
Smallest was the game changer again. He was a calm child and a good sleeper from the beginning, but as soon as his cutting of teeth started, he cried quite a lot and was uneasy. Nothing helped. I abandoned my former principles and gave him a dummy. He needed it for two weeks, and then everything went back to normal.
But what’s the situation with thumb-suckilng? Many say that if the child does not stop thumb-suckling after a normal amount of time, it will become harmful: for his teeth and soul as well. You just have to let this go as well. Big Boy suckled his thumb for quite a long time. He stopped it at the age of 7. He didn’t suckle his thumb on a regular basis though, only occasionally, when something made him afraid, scared or anxious. I was really worried and tried at least a hundred techniques to stop him doing it, but nothing helped. Then I just stopped trying and let everything be as it should be, and eventually it worked out.
With the others I didn’t care about this topic that much: of course I always had an eye on them, so that they can’t choke their fingers to the flesh and suggested them sometimes, that a child this old shouldn’t be sucking their thumb, but I did not use any tricks, didn’t try to force them to stop it… and you see, all of them stopped it on their own, in their own pace.
Housebreaking the child is another important question in the life of parents. If not because of themselves, then because of the kindergarten. As a rookie parent I always listened to the neighbour parents’ stories with amaze when they explained how their little girl/boy told them when they needed to pee pee in the potty and they wouldn’t need a nappy after their 2nd birthday. None of my children became housebroken before turning 3, moreover Four, – staying true to his nickname – needed a nappy until the age of 4.
It was really hard for me to swallow the bitter gut. That others could do things we couldn’t. I tried every possible way here as well, but I got fed up with constantly running for the mop after not noticing a pee-pond soon enough. So I let it go. After all, nobody has ever seen a healthy 18-year-old in a diaper. And life has proven me once again that every kid is different and one shouldn’t force anything on them.
With LittleOne I couldn’t have cared less about the expectations and ignore the disdainful views: He’s 20 months old and you’re not even trying the potty? No, we’re not. Because after 4 kids, I knows that this way or the other, but he’s gonna be housebroken.
Transforming the flat into a child-friendly, ultrasafe playground is also one of the biggest problems of every parent. Outlet covers, table edge guards, rail guards, stair safety gate – all of them are devices I thought to be irreplaceable for the sake of the safety of my children, but were proven to do more harm than good. I had to realise that kids cannot be stopped by these simple structures from doing what they want… so they are absolutely useless.
The rail guard at night can be especially dangerous, because if he/she wants to leave the bed for some reason in the dark it is much worse to fall over it than to simply fall off of the bed. After a few falls, the child will learn where to sleep so that it doesn’t happen again (we put some pillows in front of the bed, so that if he/she falls off, they land on something fluffy, but they didn’t).
It’s also more likely to fall much bigger over stair safety gates than the child normally would… Believe me, it’s experience… We tried it out with Big Boy, he ended up in the hospital. They learn how to open the safety lock in a blink of an eye anyway. What good does it do then?
I’d rather let the kid learn how to play carefully (not to play on the staircase, we take care when being near the edges of tables and chairs, not to put their hands in the outlets) in the world even if that means having some bumps on their head or falling off of the bed once or twice, than set them back by putting them in an overly protected environment. Children are not “idiots”, just children, and even if only on their level, but they understand and learn things, so we should put more effort than money in teaching them these.
So what’s my lesson for today? If one is capable of having flexible principles even though being a responsible parent, one can make their life easier, which might be a quite important thing if one has more than one children.