The Fussy Baby Site

I Was a Much Better Parent Before I Had Kids

Sean’s great post last week got me thinking.

I don’t know about you, but I was the world’s best parent before I had kids. I knew all of the tips and tricks to get my fictional children to be obedient awesome little beings who I could get to sleep wherever, eat whatever, listen whenever…I had the answers to everything.pregnant mom

Along comes El Screamo, followed by Fussy McFussypants and all of a sudden, my genius succumbed to reality. Try as I may, not only does it turn out that I do not have the answer to everything, I have come to realize I really don’t have the answers to anything.

In fact, I’m fairly certain our kids go out of their way to keep us guessing. Just when you think you’ve figured something out, woosh, the rug gets pulled out from under you and everything changes.

The last thing these kids want is for us to get complacent.

I can’t count the number of times my husband and I said we were over the colic hump. Except, we totally weren’t. And the number of times we ‘fixed’ our kids’ sleep issues are countless.

I distinctly remember my friend I talking, with brutal judgment, about a mutual friend and her ‘nap-Nazism’.

She’s crazy.” My friend told me.

She refuses to let her kid nap in the car. And if you dare throw a birthday party during nap time, don’t expect her to show up.”

And I scoffed. I had no kids yet, so, what did I know? So I scoffed.

She’s soooooooooo uptight!” I’m pretty sure I said.

Fast forward about a year, and I almost wanted to call the friend I bashed to apologize. I decided against it, because she might not appreciate that I bashed her in the first place. But I no longer thought she was crazy. I’d rather be a hermit with a happy kid than a socialite with a miserable one.

Among the things I swore I’d NEVER do, and then ended up doing;

  • Hold my baby to get her to nap. I would have hung her upside down and swung her to the sounds of Kenny G, if it got her to nap. If napping on my chest was the only way she’d sleep, then on my chest is where she’d go.
  • Co-sleep. Oh heck no, I wasn’t going to share my bed with my baby. My baby will sleep in the crib! Except, it turns out, the only way she’ll sleep is in bed with me, so cuddle up little one, and let’s get us some rest.
  • Switch to formula so early. I really wanted to do what was best for my baby. It took a little too long to realize breast is only best for baby if it’s also best for mommy.
  • Leave my baby to sleep when I could be going out. I want to get ‘Never Wake a Sleeping Baby’ cross-stitched and hung on my wall.
  • Be a slave to naps. There are no plans that are important enough that it’s worth risking the potential fall-out that often comes from messing with the nap schedule.
  • Give a soother ‘before breastfeeding is established’. I tried a soother on day 3 with both kids. Anything to get them to stop crying, I was going to try
  • Be ‘that person’ in the mall with the screaming kid. MY kid will know how to behave in public from birth! This is why I don’t go malls.
  • Plop my kid in front of Baby Einstein DVDs to get a break. I am so grateful for those bizarre DVDs now!

Among the things I will never do again:

  • Judge a parent for the choices they make for their family and sanity
  • Think I’ve figured something out with regards to my kids’ behaviour or sleep issue

I often refer to parenting as The Practice of Parenting. There’s definitely no science to it. There is no x+y=Z. It’s more like, maybe x + potentially Y = hopefully Z.

Once we learn to ride the waves we might start feeling like we have a handle on the whole parenting business. But I don’t think I’ll ever truly feel in control of it.

I think back on the pre-parent me and want to just point and laugh and say ‘lady, you have NO idea!’. But of course, nothing is more annoying when you’re not a parent than being told ‘you can’t understand if you don’t have kids’.

But so far, I can say, unequivocally, that the best parents I’ve ever met are people who don’t yet have children. They have all the answers. They know how to get kids to sleep, eat and behave.

I freely admit I don’t have a clue now. I was a much better parent before I had my kids. Now I rule my life by the mantra that I don’t have to be perfect, just good enough.

With all of the above said, I do know lots of perfect parents.

The parents who listen to their gut and to their instinct, and take cues from their kids, are the ones I look to as examples of wonderful parenting.

The parents who ignore other people’s judgments of the way they do things are the ones who inspire me.

Because the best parents aren’t the ones who necessarily have the most portable kids or the best-behaved in public. Their kids might not be dream sleepers or adventurous eaters.

The best parents I know, the ones who I look at as examples of what good parents are, are the parents who have happy kids who respect and love their parents.

There is no one way to parent, and no way to know how you can and will parent your kids, until you meet your child and learn who they are and what they need.

The best parents are the ones who acknowledge that, and raise their children accordingly.

Leslie Kennedy

Leslie lives in Toronto with her husband, her 2 and a half year old daughter and 6 month old son. She is presently on maternity leave and enjoying the hectic and harried life with two young children.

Photo Credit: maya picture

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