Saturday, September 5, 2015

Top Ten Things I Think When You Tell Me You Would Never Let a Baby Cry (For Shame!)

I am so tired of all the mommy shaming...

the daily sharing of posts to make every mom in the world feel badly about a choice that they made, in a desperate moment, to get their kids to sleep. The fact is, we sit around judging the decisions of other parents without ever having been there to witness that decision making process.

It's as though that business about walking in someone else's shoes doesn't apply to moms. "Don't judge, until you've walked a mile in their shoes, dear; unless it's about parenting, and then anyone who does things differently is wrong." 

I could write a whole book about all the mommy shaming and judging; how we all judge each other to feel better about our own decisions which others are making us feel guilty for. It's a vicious cycle. But I'll try to keep this topic more condensed. Let's talk about crying.

Here is a list I have compiled, of the top 10 things I think, when you tell me you have never let your child cry.

10. You have never put them in the car for any extended period of time.

This could mean any trip outside your home town or city; any trip from, say, 30 minutes to 14 hours or more.  Charlotte screamed the whole way home from the hospital at 3 days old. It happens. She had just been fed and changed, and it was bitter cold. We weren't stopping. The goal was getting home. We recently took a trip to North Carolina with our 4 children, one of which was only 5 months old at the time. We saved our money all year for this trip, but we still didn't have enough money to turn it into a 3 day, 2 hotel stays, trip. We had no idea how Charlotte might respond to the trip either. Isaac made it to Tennessee and back at about 6 months, with very little problem. Charlotte, however, got to the point where she screamed the second we placed her back in the car seat, no matter how long we stopped for. So we carried on, through her screams, because, well, we couldn't just stay in West Virginia forever.

9. You've never vacuumed. 

All of my children eventually reached an age when they were terrified of the vacuum, and no longer slept through it. Tough break. I'd rather they screamed during my once or twice (not nearly enough) a week vacuuming, than roll around in filth, collecting dog hair in their mouths. 

8. You have never made dinner.

Not every night is a disaster, but, as you must know, infants are unpredictable, as are their nap times. I can start dinner while she's napping, and be elbow deep in raw meat 10 minutes later when she decides nap is over. I have other people in this house who need to eat, and if I catered to every single cry, we'd all starve. Also, baby wearing has not been a viable option for me (so don't even suggest it), for a long time. I have back problems which become so much worse, to the point of not being able to move at all, if I strap her on me to go about my day. So, I do what absolutely needs to get done before grabbing her, and sometimes, she goes back to sleep before I get there.

7. You've never had a child claw, kick, scream, and hit you during one of their overtired fits.

Maybe your children are perfect angels and never fight sleep and only cry when they have a real need for your snuggles, or more. I have not always been that lucky. My oldest daughter became mobile at an early age and refused to even nurse beyond 10 months because it was too restricting. It would be 11 pm and I would go to her night after night because I couldn't stand the thought of letting her cry. Every single time, I'd try to nurse her, she'd twist her head away from me so hard, I would hurt her if I'd continued to try. I'd try to rock her, and she'd kick, scream, and claw to get away from me. I'd put her on the floor, and she'd play happily as though all was right in the world, while continuing to rub her overtired eyes. I'm sorry, but I'm not in the business of allowing my children (especially my 9/10 month old) stay up all night, just because they want to play. Maybe other moms and dads are ok with this. We were not. She was trying to manipulate the situation to get what she wanted, though she was clearly tired and fighting sleep, and she needed to learn that it was BEDTIME.

6. You've never cleaned their nose or face, clipped their nails, changed their diaper, or done anything good for their overall health, that they didn't particularly like. 

Maybe you view these as separate and completely different things, but I do not. I've done a lot of things that are good for my children, that they didn't like, and guess what? I'm sure to do more. No, I don't sit there listening to them scream when they are clearly in need of something from me, even if it is just snuggles. Believe me when I tell you that, because most people refuse to hear that, too outraged by my apparent heartlessness. As stated in the above, that was not always the case. I am happy to cuddle my babies, and rock them to sleep, but they are not always going to go to sleep willingly, no matter how long I try to rock them. And, believe it or not, sleep (and lots of it) is an important part of our little ones' health, growth, and brain development. They may not always want it, but they need it, and when I hear a whiny, fussy child, even well beyond infancy, I hear a child who's likely not getting enough sleep. We remedy that quickly here.

5. You've never disciplined your child, in any way, shape, or form.

This isn't a debate about spanking. It could be spanking, sending them to their room, or just a firm yelling, but the hard truth is that children don't like to hear, "No!" They don't like being told what to do or what not to do. They also don't like disappointing their parents. These upsetting things can lead them to cry, and depending on the situation, the fit that's thrown, or the point you're trying to make with them, sometimes, you have to let it run it's course.

4. You don't have any other children.

Maybe you don't, and that's not a judgment on that, choice or not. But I too was able to cater to every cry out of my first born child. It's been down hill from there. When you have other children with needs, other children who need to be fed, and can't be ignored, sometimes, the baby needs to cry a little longer than you might like. I have had the occasional week here where my older children would never get lunch until 3 or 4 if I stopped everything for those midday infant melt downs. If it was bad enough (and believe me, a mother knows when it's serious or not), we did have a later lunch, and we figured things out. But many days, things needed to get done, they got done, and my baby survived and got plenty of cuddles during the parts of the day when I wasn't providing sustenance to my other offspring.

3. You have never left your child with a babysitter, caretaker, childcare provider, or school.

That may sting, and I don't mean for it to. The point is, our children will always cry for us, even when (or especially when) we are doing something that we need to do for them or the sake of our families. My babies and children have cried even when leaving them with family they know and love, because they want us. They desire to be with us, and they don't like being left behind for anything. But sometimes it is for their own good, the good of your mental, physical, spiritual, or emotional health, the good of your family, or the health of your marriage. These things are all important things, and though they may not like it, you are doing what is best by your family.

2. You don't actually have children.

Because...well...they cry. And sometimes, even holding them, doesn't stop it.

1. You just enjoy thinking you're right about everything and judging others. 

This sounds harsher than I intended, but it's still true. Some people become so blindly passionate about particular topics, that they cannot find a gray area. It's black or white, and if you're not with them, you are wrong! That is really too bad, because we moms could find a lot of common ground in the gray area.

The point is this, I would never judge a working mom for dropping her crying baby off at daycare, or a parent for rightly disciplining their child, any more than I would judge the mom or dad who had tried absolutely everything else, before making that heartbreaking, last ditch effort to get her child to sleep. Just stop it. You don't know how they arrived at that decision. Contrary to what you might assume, it is not because they are lazy or neglectful or selfish. So stop trying to make them feel that way.

There is no such thing as a parenting expert.

No one has the proper credentials.

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