22 October 2010

Or else

It’s such a relief not to know everything anymore.

Before I had my first baby, I knew pretty much everything there was to know about babies. (Considering that I’d always preferred dogsitting to babysitting, this was a particularly impressive credential.)

For instance, I knew that introducing a pacifier too early would interfere with breastfeeding, and that in fact my baby might be better off without one at all. (Which is why there was nary a nuk in the house at midnight when everyone besides the screaming two-week-old was interested in sleeping, so a family member had to be dispatched to obtain one at that rather inconvenient hour. Fast forward to babe-in-arms number four: we shoved the binky in her mouth while still in the hospital.)

I also knew that babies must be roused every few hours at night for the first few weeks, in order not to miss a feeding. (What?! You think anything could induce me now to waken a peacefully sleeping babe? And you mean that some newborns actually sleep for more than a couple hours at a time?!)

Wake that baby up! He's obviously starving!

No, I sure don’t know everything anymore. And I feel badly for all the parents-to-be and new parents who [think they] do. Navigating all that information for the first time is beyond overwhelming. It’s attachment parenting OR ELSE you’re callous and your child will be maladjusted. It’s strict scheduling OR ELSE your baby will never learn proper sleep patterns. It’s every vaccine, following the schedule exactly, OR ELSE your baby will get a deadly and/or disfiguring disease. It’s no vaccines/delayed vaccines, OR ELSE your kid will end up on the autism spectrum. Some people believe everything their doctor says and some believe next to nothing of what is purveyed by the traditional medical establishment.

Do I have opinions (and often supporting research) on these and other topics? You betcha. But they’re not held quite as tightly as they perhaps once were. Don’t get me wrong: I’m an objective-truth kind of person. And I know what I know—but I also know that most of what I know pertains to the particular baby whose head I’m looking over as I type this and/or to her brothers. We’ve all got to figure things out as best we can for our families, and so long as prayer and common sense figure high on the parenting priority list, the rest will get sorted out eventually. In the meantime, simply acknowledging that omniscience belongs only to One can lift a huge burden from a mom’s shoulders—and maybe make her a more pleasant companion amongst her circle of acquaintance, too. ;D


Monique said...

Sort of like the college freshmen who has just completed their first semester of Philosophy.

All they are now is truly menacing.

Bikermom said...

I enjoyed this. It reminds how my dear husband would tell people we got a dog so that we would know more what having a child would be like?????????? What?????

Now of course, the comments of the 'nursery' are not replied to as there isn't any nursery. It is called a pack and play in our room.....for now.

Gauntlets said...

I sympathize with feeling relieved about knowing less. These days, when someone asks me for advice on something, I usually just say, "The more kids I have, the less I know about kids. So, just do whatever works."

And since the advice asker usually has her mind already made up, this answer makes us both happy. :D

Leah said...

I don't read much babyology anymore. I'm only on number 1, but it's too stressful. I have enough guilt as is, without having to add in the number of ways I've messed up his future by what the internet says I've done, or haven't done. I'm thankful to be in the hands of merciful God who has granted my child life and has protected that life thus far!

etem said...

nice one.
i've begun to be delighted when the internet tells me i'm doing something wrong.

Reb. Mary said...

You all sound so grounded :)
Leah, I think that the babyology is most stressful with #1--and I think Gauntlets' answer is a great one :)

Kaylee Hicks said...

Thank you for this post. I'm pregnant with my first and have done a bit of reading and I'm amazed at how many conflicting opinions there are. I'm very fortunate and thankful to have my mom (who's had seven kids) to talk with and ask all my questions to. The Lord has been gracious to me in that He's sustained my relationship with my mom and many other friends who can help and forgive me when I don't "do things the right way" - whatever that is? Right? Thanks Again!

Katy said...

Good reminder, Kaylee. Moms (and husbands) are way better sources of wisdom and guidance than the Internet/parenting books or magazines.

Rebekah said...

Amen. I never know what to say when people ask me what I do about this or that kid problem. The answer is, whatever works for this here kid right now.

Marie said...

Reb. Mary- Are you my twin?=)