In This Together Everyday
Posted on November 25 2018
Oona, 6 months
I pretty much assume most other moms look at my parenting style and completely cringe. I get it. I’m sure some think I’m too relaxed and don’t discipline enough or properly. I don’t run a tight enough ship for many, no doubt.
Here’s the thing though, it has taken years to develop what’s right for me and my girls and we’ve learned together along the way. Inevitably, some of the development dates back to the survival of my very own childhood. Our own childhood distinctly flavors our parenting style as adults with very own children, for better or worse. More terrifying for some than others. I know there are those of you out there that had an idyllic childhood, growing up in a warm, safe, loving environment where you could trust that your parents’ best version of themselves would be there for you around the clock. Not so much for me, but well done you. What do I mean by “we’ve learned together?” Read on and I’ll try to explain.
Me, pregnant with Oona
As soon as I was pregnant with our first child I was desperate to start studying to be the best parent possible. I didn’t know what that looked like so I wanted to at least read about it to prepare. I read all the baby books and birth books I could get my hands on. And then Oona arrived and I quickly realized she and I would teach each other. Everything I read was out the window.
Oona was a demanding baby that knew exactly what she wanted and she wanted to be held constantly. Not only did she want to be held constantly, but she wanted to be held by me and me alone. Not even Mike would do. As soon as I tried to set her down or pass her off for someone else to hold, she cried until she was back in my arms. I resorted to wearing her in a Baby Bjorn during the day and was constantly up with her at night breastfeeding her back to sleep. It was all about trial and error. I listened to her and met her demanding needs.
Me wearing my Oona to keep both of us sane and happy.
As the months passed and she approached her first birthday, she knew I was her rock. I was tired and needed sleep. I absolutely knew she didn’t NEED to get up at night. She was healthy on all fronts. I had heard and done some reading about having babies “cry it out” and “self soothe” and it sounded so cruel, but I was desperate so I thought I’d try it. She must have known I was tired because it was one bad night of crying and then it was smooth sailing from there.
Here’s how it went down. She woke up at 11:30pm, just as she always had, and cried a little over an hour. I laid in bed and listened to her crying and felt stabbing pain in my chest. This felt so wrong. It was counterintuitive. I felt like the worst mother in the world, but I let her go because everything I had heard and read said absolutely do not go in to the room. If you go in, it just reinforces crying until you’re there to soothe them instead of them learning to self soothe back to sleep. Just about the time I couldn’t take it anymore, her crying became intermittent, and about 15 minutes later she was sound asleep. It felt like the longest 73 minutes of my life. I had this morbid thought, “what if she cried herself to death?” I went in to check on her shortly thereafter and she was sleeping peacefully. She got me. She knew what I needed and she was there for me just as I had been there for her.
And so it continues over the days, months, and years... this mutual love, respect, and trust. It’s a give and take, a show and tell among the girls and I. There’s a lot of open communication, talking, listening. I do my job as a parent to be the best version of me possible so they too can learn to be the best version of themselves possible. I’m not an asshole, but I’m not a doormat. It’s a balancing act and sometimes we screw up, but the important thing is we learn from our mistakes. We apologize, we forgive, and we move on.
Me and my girls, Oona, Neve, Iona, and Vendela
I’m not suggesting this parenting style should or could work for you. What I am suggesting is that you find and trust what parenting style is right for you. Do what feels right for you and your family and try not to worry about others’ parenting styles or their opinion of yours. I have come to find there is no one size fits all. Oona, Neve, Iona, and Vendela have each shown up with their unique spin on things and we’ve grown together and learned from each other. We are very much in this together today so we can continue to be in it together tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that... you get the idea. We really are in this together EVERYDAY!