Tiger Moms. Helicopter Moms. Attachment parenting. Free range parenting.
Labels are no longer something you just leave behind at high school. In parenthood, they come back.
I was asked a few weeks ago at a parent drop in what style of parenting I follow and found myself at a loss for a name.
I think I would like to call it the "Flying By The Seat Of My Pants" method.
I had a natural birth. I did it without an epidural. And at one point, I wanted to give up. Near the end, I hoped that I would pass out, just so I wouldn't have to pushing all 7lb9oz's of him out.
Do I hover behind my child at the playground? Yes. Until he gives it a try and I know that he can either do it or not do it to the point that he won't fall and get seriously injured. Then I can be found on the bench watching from a distance. Or racing him up the slide as his best friend.
A boy twice his size comes along and pushes him over? I sit back and watch him pick himself up. I acknowledge the apologies of said-boys mom and let her discipline her child to her own accord. He pushes again? I will go over and make sure it's known to both boys that I am nearby. A third time? Yeah, maybe I do make a comment. He is my child and I won't let him get pushed around, repeatedly, when he doesn't know how to stand up for himself just yet.
That child, the one standing alone at the store front in a near empty mall corridor? The one that people eye and look around to see where his parent is? He's exploring his independence while I catch up with a friend, with her fully understanding why my back is towards her and my eyes are glued to my child, ever. single. second. Yes, I see you Mr Dad, looking around wondering why someones child is more than 20 feet from their parent. And yes, I did stand up the second you slowed down and took a step towards my child. You don't need to tell him to head back towards Mom. She is fully paying attention while he learns about safe distances to play in public in the middle of an open and empty mall corridor where she can watch him without obstacles.
I did a mild-cry-it-out fest. It was the hardest time in my parenting life. I was in tears listening to him. He wasn't even crying that badly. But after, I was relieved that managed to stick it out. Would I do it again? Unfortunately, yes. It has helped all three of us get a better sleep.
I entertained the thought of cloth diapers but decided it just wasn't for me. The idea of having to schedule pick up or drop off service or wash them myself in our top-loading washer was not ideal. We use disposable. And I don't bat an eye about how many we are adding to the landfill.
I made my own baby food, until I realized that I was spending too much time making his food instead of playing with him (he ate A LOT. Like, 1.5 ice cube trays worth a day for those that understand that method of baby food measuring)
He eats way more cheese than any grown man should consume. But it means he eats. And I want him to get fat. I want him to have little baby rolls, even if it is a bit late for that now. I loved when his thighs got chubby, until they thinned out. (But hey, he's still cute!)
I breastfed. For five months. And then I had to formula feed. I didn't want to give up, I felt like a failure but I kept trying and from month 7-14, I nursed again. It's not that I was against formula, it's just that of all baby-related things, I didn't care if any of them went according to plan, except for breastfeeding. I wanted to nurse until he was 18 months, but we were both happier with cows milk.
He watches YouTube. I let him watch it when I need a bit of peace. I let him watch it if he's tired and needs a bit of downtime. I try to keep it under ten minutes a day, but there are times that I just need a bit of peace so that I can build up the energy to give him more quality me than quantity me.
He doesn't have juice. Or chocolate. But I let him have veggie straws (which are essentially chips) once or twice a week.
We didn't circumsize (sorry D, this statement may haunt you in your junior high years...) We would if medically needed. Or if we were religious. But we didn't fall into either category.
We aren't religious. We aren't raising him to know about God. We will answer any questions that we can, give our opinions on the matter and let him make his own decision. And we will stand behind him, no matter what choice he makes.
I get down on the floor and play with him. But I also let him have time to play on his own. He needs to learn how to play independently. He needs to learn how to entertain himself.
We want a second baby. Right now, we refer to our family unit as "a couple with a baby" But part of me is worried about not being able to give D as much attention as I am now. Or about him having jealousy. Or the younger child not being as easy going as D has been. But that worry is so small that it's dwarfed by the thought of completing our family.
I baby wore. I also encouraged the stroller. And now I let him walk. He can usually be found darting the opposite direction of where we are aiming for or thrown over my shoulder kicking and screaming because he wasn't allowed to drink from the cup that was discarded onto the side of the pathway from someone else, weeks ago.
He was also that baby, who at only two days old, was outside for a walk. Because, well, it was a sunny day and I needed to get out. It was late-August. Sue me.
At three weeks old, he attended his first play date. With other children. Some of whom could have gotten him sick. *gasp!* He happily hid under the cover, nursing, pretty much the whole time. Again, I got out because I needed to. I was suddenly a mother. I felt I was solely responsible for this little being (which yes, I know now, I had the support of everyone, especially my husband, but being a new mom was overwhelming with around the clock feedings wearing me down) Selfish, right?
I don't believe in spanking. I don't think that spanking a child teaches them right from wrong, good from bad. But I am not their parent and it's not my place to make those decisions.
I wanted to have a home birth. But my husband was against it. And my doctor basically outright said that "If someone wants a home birth, they are likely not in the right frame of mind to have a child" Looking back to my smooth labour and delivery, I wish I had pursued it more.
We want him to be in sports and activities. He can chose some, but there are also some that won't be an option (swimming, for example, will be a requirement) We want him to know about water safety and to know how to swim. It could save his life one day.
He will often get toys without occasion. Because we like to spoil him and it's hard to resist sometimes. However, the day he starts acting like a spoiled brat is the day he doesn't get anything, anymore.
I wanted to be a stay at home mom but it wasn't financially possible at the moment so I returned to work three days a week to help with costs but also so I still have three days off with D (He goes to daycare one of my days off still so that I can get household stuff done without wasting a day that could be spent doing things as a family) Secretly, I am enjoying have something outside of the house, even though I miss my little guy the while time I am away from him.
Nowadays, and even back in the day, parenting is challenging enough. We don't need to be placing labels on ourselves, separating ourselves from each other. We don't need to mould our parenting into a specific style. We can have a child that only eats organic but uses disposable diapers.
I don't care if someone agrees or disagrees with my method. The only opinions that matter to me are mine and my husbands. If someone thinks I am crazy because I am letting my son wander away from me, but still in view, in a mall then so be it. Think what you want.
Let's forget the labels. Let's leave behind the judgements. Let's come together as parents and help each other raise children that are healthy and loved and caring. And bathed. You know, once a week or so.