Horses for Courses

The same. But different.

The same. But different.

 

A friend of mine recently commented on her Facebook page that she had noticed a huge amount of really nasty things being said by mothers, to mothers recently. It’s not new, and I have written about it many moons ago, and it astonishes me it’s not getting better. It’s generally termed the ‘Mommy Wars’ a term that I despise, as it just sound belittling. But, regardless, recently, I have noticed a lot of really crappy comments directed at people for making normal parenting decisions. People getting ripped apart for choosing different methods of child rearing, everything from how you feed your baby, to  whether you make your child do chores, to whether you let them play in your yard seems to draw judgement and commenting from all over. There seems to be little love lost between mothers, and it’s sad.  There are people out there who genuinely believe parenting is a formula – you feed your children this, use this routine, discipline them like this, train them to sleep like this, and you will end up with a perfect child. But worse is, it’s started to become that any deviation from this formula means you are doing it wrong, or even, as I see implied by internet people constantly, are unfit to parent. No one is immune – in the last few months, even Reese Witherspoon and Jessica Alba have drawn heat for feeding their kids food. I am not even making that up. It’s the dumbest thing.

My children have a lot of similarities. They are both easy going, and they both seem to like to talk (or babble, as the case may be) a lot. But, they are, already, very different. If I had to sum up my daughter in three words it would be confident, independent and empathetic. If I had to describe my son, it would be peaceful, happy and cuddly. Moo loves me, adores me, that she makes clear. But she never needed me as such.  She disliked being held unless she was ill, in pain, or overstimulated. She’d scream like a banshee if I attempted to wear her, and even preferred the pram facing out so she could watch the world. We had a lot of issues breastfeeding (incidentally, new mums, if a health care nurse’s response when you tell her you are in constant pain, and your baby is making you bleed a lot when she feeds, is a long the lines of ‘ That’s ok, it’s just extra protein for the baby. Just keep going’ see a different nurse. This one is not good at her job). When it settled down, Moo nursed to get food and food alone. I had no issues pumping, so she didn’t switch fully to formula until about 9-10 months, but it wasn’t even a blip on the radar. We did gentle sleep training with her when she was four months old, after her colic had settled, and put her in a routine, and she was in her element. She hated having us there when she was trying to sleep – she would cry until we left. Then, she changed when she got to be a toddler, so we did too, and self settling gave way, and became us cuddling her to sleep, and co-sleeping on the nights she didn’t want to be alone. She started solids at 6 months, as recommended. She was in a proper bed at around 15 months. I took toilet training slowly, and she ended up doing it herself, which has meant that she now has no issues. As she’s gotten older, we’ve given her a lot of independence, and she’s thrived.

My baby Bear, on the other hand, loves me, but also, he needs me. He loves to be worn. He loves to be held. He, until recently, has preferred the pram facing in. He fed easily and without issues, except for being a slow poke (during growth spurts, it was not uncommon for him to feed for 18 hours a day for 5 days). As I have weaned him to avoid the discomfort of holding over feeds while at work (pumping, unfortunately, did not work well this time) he has stopped sleeping through the night, and part of me wonders if it’s so he can get the same volume of cuddles in (I was feeding him for about 4-5 hours in total every day, so a lot of cuddle time). He has not had sleep training. In his day naps, he plays with his glow worm until it sings him to sleep. At night, he is either cuddled or fed until he drifts off. He has a routine, but it’s more fluid, and more led by him. He started solids at 4 months, and loves a lot of the food Moo hated (rice cereal, rusks) and doesn’t like things she likes (watching the disgust on his face when he eats mashed banana is something to behold).

If I had raised Moo, like I have raised Bear, she would’ve been unhappy. Really unhappy. If I had done with Bear just as I did with Moo, he wouldn’t have done well either. If I can’t even raise two kids in the exact same way, there’s no way there can be a uniform approach. There is no formula. What you have proven works, by getting your child through alive and happy, is what works. Unless you are endangering your own child or others (and I mean properly endangered, not ‘you are poisoning your children by not eating organic’ endangered) your choices are both valid and no one else’s concern. And wouldn’t it be nice if we stopped comparing, and judging. Parenting is hard. We are all flying by the seat of our pants, even if we don’t want to admit it. It shocks me that someone who understands this can then throw stones at another. Imagine how much easier this could be if we didn’t feel judged at every turn. Imagine if we could just be parents.

I’m An, the wife of a wonderful, but extremely nerdy gamer, a mother to two, a scientist, an amateur pastry chef, a daughter, a sister and a friend.

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