Tossing the Parenting Book Out the Window Already

I think I’m a horrible parent already. Just two months in too.

I am now harboring a strong belief about information found in baby books. I read tons of them before I had the baby too.I think that the people who write the baby books about things you MUST NOT do for fear of causing terrible and irreparable harm to your child – even though generations of parents have done it before and we all lived- are secret government operatives charged with controlling the population through psychological torture.

If you do what the baby books tell you, you will be miserable and so will your baby.When you finally break down and do all the “wrong” things,  behold everyone is pretty much sane and happy. You might even be getting more than an hour of sleep at a time. The whole new parent thing becomes manageable when you start listening to your kid and gut as opposed to the so called “experts”. Those experts are sleeping soundly in their beds purchased with your hard earned money while you are wrangling a grumpy newborn.

I am learning though that I am not the first “bad” parent out there.As I talk about my experiences with other parents I am realizing that more people than I realized do what works as opposed to what is endorsed by the baby books. They don’t say it loudly, but they do whisper their indiscretions reassuringly when I tell them of having fallen off the baby book advice wagon. These are good, sane, educated people with healthy and bright kids. My reservations about breaking the rules are starting to disapate.

I just can’t parent by the book. All of the books had whole chapters about whether to return to work or not. That implies that it is a choice. It never really was for me. Frankly, I skipped those chapters. Strike twenty for my parenting style according to the books.

Today was V’s first day at daycare. I was prepared to weep and gnash my teeth. I was expecting to wail inconsolably and have to be dragged bodily from the room. I was expecting to feel guilty for choosing my career over my child. Didn’t happen. And I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. Weird huh?

We took her bottles in, plopped her down in the crib, talked to her teacher briefly, kissed her little forehead, told her we loved her and calmly went to work. No tears. No reservations.She seemed happy which probably made a difference. She isn’t old enough yet to hug my leg and yell “No Mommy.” But I did my research on the place, checked it out, interviewed the director and teacher, checked references and licenses and ratings. They had every check mark they could get and I didn’t get a bad feeling. My gut said it was OK and my brain was reassured with quantifiable data. I felt good about leaving her there or I wouldn’t have done it.

I theorize that since I had to leave her in NICU for the first 11 days of her life that maybe I have some of the wailing and gnashing of teeth over leaving my child with a stranger out of my system. Believe me there was plenty of it going on the first two weeks. And at least at the daycare I picked the stranger. And I will not walk in to a new tube, machine, or beep beep hooked up to my daughter because whatever twelve year old resident or nurse is on duty that day thinks she needs one. Her teacher is there all day. She only has a few babies to take care of and the only thing she can overdose my kid on is bottles and attention. I wouldn’t be upset if she did both.

And the breastfeeding crazies… Jeez people. Don’t glare at me or purse your lips when I say my baby gets both breast milk and formula. I am not a failure as a mother or a woman because I don’t make enough milk to keep my ravenous little piranha baby full. When my kid is still hungry after breastfeeding I go mix a bottle of formula and feed her till she is full. That is what I am supposed to do: make sure my child isn’t hungry. It makes for a happier baby. That makes Mom and Dad happy. Everybody wins!

You breast milk fiends out there who preach that it is better to let the baby go hungry to establish a milk supply than providing comfort when it is demanded have drank way to much coo coo juice. I don’t think that being the person who refuses or can’t provide food is exactly the bonding experience I want with my child.

If you want to starve your kids fine. I’m not starving mine, much less for the recommended six months. And I have it on good authority – my pediatrician – that as long as she gets 50% of her nutrition from breast milk she will get all of the benefits that make it important to breastfeed. So there. I get the best of both worlds you crazy boob food harpies. Go gnaw on some baby books.

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