A friend and I were talking today about how demanding and competitive parenting has gotten since we were babies. 25 years ago parents just raised their kids, sure they read books and had to listen to advice given by the generation before (and thus be judged accordingly), but there wasn’t the same “air” of you have to do it this way or your kid is going to be messed up/slow/a low functioning human. What ever happened to happy? There was a time when parents said I just want my kid to be happy and they meant it! It seems that today parents focus on getting their kids to do things faster and grander than ever before. When you ask about how a baby is doing most moms will give you a developmental milestone update (myself included), why don’t we ever just say, you know what my baby is really happy and we are having fun. Why is there all this pressure for our children to be “the best.” Shouldn’t we first try to achieve our personal best and then expect that of our children, I know that I am not at my personal best! Do we forget about ourselves and put all of our eggs into their tiny, innocent little baskets? Everywhere you go you hear moms comparing babies. Some moms do this innocently or from genuine interest (you know who they are) and other moms try to act like it is innocent and genuine but it is coming from somewhere competitive (you totally know who these moms are).
This issue really picks my bum. When I was at a get together of a group of children another mom gave Everly and I a lovely compliment, saying that Everly was speeding along nicely in her development. Yes she is and we are proud of her I replied, I also said that try as I might I can’t slow her down, lol, this is her pace! Another mom said that since I do what I do for a living Everly should be ahead in her development because I can make her do things. Really? Have you read my blog? This is not the blog of someone who has successfully figured out how to make her daughter do things! stubbornness aside, you can’t make a baby do anything before they are ready (both cognitively and physically); if you could my work with families would not last long and we would never need additional therapy services. If you could just “make” a baby crawl or talk, there wouldn’t be a baby around who was “behind” and they would all be walking and talking at 2 months old (okay that’s an exaggeration, but do you get what I am getting at here?). I don’t want to be accused of forcing my child to do something she isn’t ready to do and I want to enjoy my baby being a baby. As excited as I get for her to meet milestones, I also get a little bit sad every time because it means that she is that much farther away from being an infant, which means that she is growing up and that I can not stop time. Everyone says to me that she will be walking in no time, and they say it so excitedly. I always reply let’s hope not and roll my eyes and then I get these blank stares, lol.
The same idea goes for her sleeping. I realized that trying to “train” her to do something she just wasn’t ready to do was not working for us, so rather than let it consume me again our family took a break in December. I was focusing too much on trying to get her to sleep 12 hours solid at night because of course everything says that she should sleep such and such hours and blah, blah, blah. Of course you want to believe the blah, blah, blahs when you are tired, so you go with it. Well a few months later and nearly 5 books read I have found that not one “sleep solution theorist” has the answer for our family, and you know what- rightly so, as they have never met Everly. For the past few weeks I have married many different “sleep techniques” and have given Everly a bit more of the lead when it comes to sleep and shocker or shockers, she is sleeping better than ever. I have given her what I need to give her and have allowed her to find her way and do the rest. This isn’t to say that every sleep time in our house is blissful, it isn’t and it will never be, because every sleeptime isn’t blissful for me, I am realistic about this now! But we are not fighting each other and keeping logs and making it the focus of our day (and night). Some kids are easy to put to sleep and like to have long naps (Q buddy, that’s you!) some babies aren’t this is Everly.
On a tv show the other day I saw that the mom was using a program to teach her toddler to READ. I was like, are you kidding me? This toddler has the rest of her life to read, and will learn to when it is truly developmentally appropriate, why are you rushing this? I can just image how much google lit up that night from parents searching “baby reading programs” so that they could get it for their own unsuspecting infants before their friends do! But seriously people, reading toddlers? I understand that some geniuses start reading very young, but newsflash eager beavers, these children usually pick up the books and start reading on their own with only having been read to themselves as intervention. Reading with and to your baby is still the best option to promote early literacy, you don’t need some special kit and program.
I am not trying to say that we should stop telling people when our children do wonderful things, of course that should be celebrated. I am saying that the pressure should be taken off of our children and that sometimes just being a happy baby should be wonderful news enough. When will we start to let our babies be who they are? When will we just relax and enjoy the ride. I say this for myself as well. I always have the developmentalist part of my brain telling me “when” Everly should be achieving certain skills. I was acutely aware that she had a minor delay in gross motor skills in September, lol. But look how that turned out, it goes to show that every baby has their pace for development and learning! I have slowly learned to let go. Things will happen when they are going to happen, and there is no point in getting caught up in it, comparing her to other babies or obsessing. I am challenging myself to enjoy her for the person that she is, because she is wonderful and if push came to shove, I wouldn’t change a thing.