Why I own my parenting style (and why you should, too)

This has been on my mind for a while. Various reasons make me think of it: having to miss a social engagement was the most recent, but it can be as simple as talking to other parents, usually moms, about day-to-day life.

Unlike pregnancy and labour, I didn’t do a lot of reading on parenting before we had a baby. I have likely never given any thought to my parenting style until I had a baby. What the hell is a parenting style?! (In fact, I would have rolled my eyes at the phrase “attachment parenting,” and the irony is that of course now I practice attachment parenting.) I read and read and read on pregnancy and labour, determined to have a positive birth experience. Near the end of my pregnancy, I thought maybe I should start reading about breastfeeding, but then Cubber came early, so there went that idea. I also distinctly remember reading one book that once I got to the parenting part, I closed it.

I didn’t start reading any books until nursing/nap marathons, and then I discovered the wonderful invention of downloading library books or buying e-books on my phone. I have a huge screen, so it’s like reading on a mini iPad. Awesome!

Anyway, to back up: I’ve always just done what works for us. As an example…Before we had our son, my husband said he was against bed sharing. Yet, as soon as we got home from the hospital, he told me and Cub to set up in the bedroom so he and a friend could clean the house. Cub has slept with us ever since, save maybe two nights. It’s always just been easiest for us, especially with breastfeeding.

Over time, Cub has decided he likes to sleep like a teenager, so he stays up until we would normally go to bed, somewhere between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m., and then gets up late: as early as 8 and as late as 10. Mama is NOT complaining.

Cub has always been a big-time breastfeeder. You can tell this by looking at him. Chubby baby!! Often before bed time, he likes to nurse a few times. Or, as we discovered last week when I decided to go to an evening yoga class and he, in APB’s words, wasn’t thrilled, he just likes to know I’m around. Doesn’t even care if I’m reading to or playing with him, but wants to know I’m there, so he can happily play by himself in his room.

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As such, this makes it difficult to go out without him. So I’ve had to miss a friend’s celebration, and it looks like I’ll miss another that’s coming up. I once had tickets to go to a Mommy’s Night Out. In the end, Cub and I were getting over being sick, but I couldn’t figure out a way to make it work. Once we moved away from the city, travel becomes a consideration. Do I want to be driving home for half an hour, knowing I have a baby freaking out on the other end? Not really.

Now. Some of you are likely thinking, Just go. You deserve an outing. He’ll get over it and he’ll be fine. And all of that may be true to some degree. But here’s the thing: I’m at peace with our situation. In fact, I like it. My baby is only a baby for so long. I cherish every time I get to hold and nurse him. I also cherish the later nights and mornings, knowing one day he might pull a 180 and decide 5:30, like other babies I know, is a great time to get up (please, no).

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My point in this long ramble is this is what works for us. It might not work for you, and that’s ok. I’m not you, your baby is not my baby, and your life and circumstances are not mine. You have to do what works for YOU…and you should own it. Make no apologies for the choices you make for you and your baby. Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed, or formula feed. Whether you take your baby to daycare or stay at home. Whether you returned to work six months after your baby was born or two years. You, and ONLY YOU, know what is best for your family. I wouldn’t tell you what’s best for you because I don’t know. Only you know that – so don’t let anyone try to tell you otherwise and more importantly, BELIEVE in yourself. Your mother’s instinct is right (in fact, I was pleased yesterday when a doctor told me it was my mother’s instinct that would tell me if anything was wrong with cub after his stroller tipped and he hit his head on the ground. He’s ok!).

For us, the way I see it is this: this is for now. It’s not forever. And I don’t mean that in a “this, too, shall pass” kind of way. I mean it in a “I want to cherish this time together” because before I know it, it will be gone.

So Mamas….keep doing what you’re doing, and I will, too….All of us with the confidence that we know what’s best for us.

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