I was reading a thread on Facebook today from a well-known author/blogger/speaker. She had simply stated last night some tough love for her son who wasted time playing a video game even though she asked if he had homework and then “suddenly remembered” at bedtime. She sent him to bed and told him the consequences were a zero, staying in at recess and reaping the rewards of his forgetfulness. I did a little cyber *high-five* because that’s pretty much how I parent. But what followed was nearly 300+ comments from her followers about how she handled it wrong, her son was going to be a delinquent, he was learning to be rewarded for bad behaviour, he was likely to fail in life and a whole host of *advice* about how she could have dealt with it differently.
I am mortified.
First of all, she has 5 kids and this is nothing new to her. It was a small insight into her life which she didn’t need to share but she does regularly because she’s a regular mom like the rest of us, with kids who challenge and she chooses not to enter the battle field sometimes. A lot of the comments were offensive and most of them were out of line.
I parent by instinct~you probably do too. It’s a God-given talent we mothers have for dealing with the slings and arrows that come our way in the course of any day. I don’t know what will happen this afternoon with any one of my kids. On any given day we can have someone with hormonal outbursts, a friend who is mean, homework not done or problems at work. We roll with it and some days, I’m the mean mom who simply doesn’t care. Well, I care, but ….I don’t. Sometimes kids just need to walk to their rooms and realize that they got themselves into this mess and they have to figure a way out of it.
When I had my first baby, I was 23. I had an emergency c-section and so by the time I woke up and was moved up to my room, my baby was 2 hours old. My husband had been with him but he was numb and in shock and completely out of his element. When I came to and my baby was laid on my chest , I had 2 thoughts: 1. This kid has a LOT of hair(it was red) and 2. He’s heavy~can someone take him off of me so I can breathe!
Did I love him? Yes! But I just had surgery and now I had a baby to look after. Instinct kicked in. I was moved into my bed and once we were set up , the nurses left us alone with our new bundle. I’ve heard some women say they panicked. I did not.
“Give me that baby.” Time for me to hold him and check him out, but oh, what’s this? He’s hungry?
Before Facebook and the internet, women had children. Did you know that? They did. And they fed them, nurtured them and everything was okay. In fact, they knew what to do! Amazing concept.
So ya, here was my baby, hungry and here was me…with big boobs. I slipped the gown off my shoulder and whadyaknow~ that boy latched on and was doing what babies do best: nursing. No one showed me the football hold. No one came and told me about a proper latch. Nobody was there to say “you’re doing it wrong” or “try this” . I did it and he did it. We did it.
The nurse who came into the room next threw a fit! “What are you doing?” She gave me a lecture about the proper form to fill out and recording when, how long he fed and what colour the poop was in the diaper and yadda, yadda, yadda. All of the sudden I felt like I had been disciplined. Well, apparently, I had. They had fed him in the nursery some formula because I was unconscious and they wanted to stabalize his blood sugar and all that. They pricked and poked my poor baby all before I had a chance to meet him. And now he was “theirs”.
Those of you who know me will appreciate this. When she left the room , I told my husband, “they don’t know who they’re dealing with, do they?” Apparently, no one told me that there are rules while on the maternity ward. I will tell you this: he was my baby and I was going to feed him anytime I wanted to. And I did. Sure, I did get help with the football hold and yes, there were some latching issues later that day but having a nurse who gave me the freedom to figure it out and gently guide me made a world of difference. And it supported my own instinct. I kept my mouth shut for the most part. I had a new mom beside me for a day or so who was pretty much scared to touch or hold her baby. She was so rookie. But you know, she just didn’t trust her own instinct to do the right thing. I had a chance to encourage her even though she was probably 10 years older than me.
We’re going to fail. Sometimes we’re going to do the wrong thing, the wrong way. But that doesn’t mean that *we* are wrong. It means we’re learning what works and what doesn’t. And for some of us, letting our kids mess up and fail and fall flat on their faces is exactly the *right* way.
I’m not a perfect mom. I wish I had done some things differently. But I’m not sorry that I didn’t read every book or follow every bit of advice.
I fed my 3 month old homemade formula made from evaporated milk and corn syrup.
I fed my 10 day old firstborn pablum from a bottle.
I’ve let my kids stay up past their bedtime on school nights to watch hockey.
I’ve let my kids eat ice cream for breakfast.
I don’t make my kids make their beds every day.
My kids don’t have clean rooms.
We don’t have *rules* posted for how much TV a kid can watch(my kids actually don’t watch that much).
I rarely help my kids with their homework.
I don’t make sure everyone is getting the right allotment of fruits and vegetables in a day.
There’s about a million other things I do or don’t do that are *not by the book*. I know mothers who hover and pester and control every aspect of their kids’ days. I am SO not that mother. Does that make me a bad mother?? Or does that make me a bad a$% mother? (I did that for you Jenna) .
Trust your instincts. Don’t take advice TOO seriously from other moms and learn to pick your battles with your kids. Because there will be many and most of them aren’t worth worrying about. So your kid isn’t straight As? Neither are mine! So your kids don’t know how to scramble eggs~neither do mine! So , you’re bottle feeding?? You’re giving solid foods now? You aren’t using cloth?? GASP!
You go girl. Trust your instincts and don’t look back.