Little A is now 18 months old!! She’s not a baby anymore! *insert hysterically crying emoticon now*. Well that went fast. I can remember when she was born, and even before, I intently listened to every piece of advice and considered or second-guessed my own approach in favor of this new and “better” advice I was given. I would read article after article, listen to conversation after conversation about one thing after another when it came to child-rearing. Everything from formula-feeding vs. breastfeeding, and why one was better (or not) than the other, co-sleeping vs. sleep training, delayed solids and baby-led weaning vs. pureed baby foods and rice cereal, nap schedules and strict daily routines to unstructured days, the list could go on and on.
Reading and listening to this information would make me feel guilty, or less of a parent for choosing to do one thing over another. I remember feeling like the biggest failure in the world when, after reading “The Happiest Baby on the Block,” after doing the 5S’s my baby STILL wouldn’t stop crying, and the only thing that worked for us was pacing back and forth with Euro Trash techno music in the background and her in her baby ergo until she passed out. Seriously! On the flip-side, breastfeeding came very naturally to us. It was a difficult road to get to where we are today, but we did it. And, after joining several breastfeeding support groups, I’d read post after post from moms judging other moms for everything from starting solids too early, to weaning too early. I mean c’mon. When did it become acceptable to berate and judge other moms who are hanging by a thread, just trying to do the best they can with what they have?!
So, a few weeks ago, I came across a quote that I wish I would have stumbled across a year and a half ago, when little A was born. This powerful quote, I believe, is quite possible the best piece of advice I have received as a parent. It would have saved tons of hours of feeling guilty, second-guessing and questioning my own decisions….
And the funniest thing is that this piece of advice came not from the 10,000th parenting article I read, or the so-called child-rearing experts who claim to know the secrets to getting your child to sleep through the night, eat balanced meals and not throw tantrums. Nor did the best parenting advice I receive come from the millions of forums I scoured, or the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with friends, colleagues, family members or strangers at the super market about the “best” methods to do XY and Z with your baby. Nope, this advice came from none other Mr. Robert Downey Jr.
“Listen, smile, agree, then do whatever the fuck you were going to do anyway.”
Thank you! I mean let’s be honest, the guy doesn’t have the best track record, and taking parenting advice from him might be a little, um, non-traditional, shall we say, but this is brilliant, and so empowering. As a new parent, that’s just what you need. You need to feel confident and empowered that you are doing the best you can. Not judged and shamed for doing something that someone else considers the “wrong” way to do something.
For us, we are a baby-wearing, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping family. To some, we are hippies. To others we are “gentle parents.” To those that told me I should let me baby cry it out in her cot, or stop breastfeeding at 6 months, or put her in a stroller instead of “wearing” her, to you, I say thank you for your advice. What worked for your kid and your family doesn’t necessarily work for mine. So, thanks for your input, BUT… I will smile and keep on doing what I’m doing.
Until Next time,