When we have our first baby there is anticipation, excitement and hopefully joy. But, there is another side to it. No matter how prepared we believe we are, nothing truly prepares you for the change that occurs to our lives. I would call it -- my life as I formally knew it. Some women experience serious postpartum depression which needs to be dealt with and supported. Almost all of us go through the baby blues, and there is just a general feeling of "what have I done to my life." I really felt this way after my daughter was born, and I am pretty sure many moms do. I did get over it and moved on, but of course I still think about my life before kids, but now it's more in a wistful way.
As I navigate the world of mommy blogs, parenting articles, and mom groups I have seen a trend towards pushing our kids to be independent earlier and sooner. With us parents wanting our lives to be just how they were before kids. But that's not really realistic is it? Sure, your children do not have to take over your life, but once they are here, they are HERE! Know what I mean?
So I wonder.. when it comes to parenting, what is the rush? Why do we push our kids to hit each milestone, reach each new achievement, and move on to the next step as soon as possible? Is it because we are we so caught up in getting our lives back to how they were pre-children, that we forget to stop and savor the moment?
I know it is extremely cliche, but I love the quotes about our children only being little once. I think it may be because I got pregnant again when my daughter was only 13 months, I have come to really know and feel how quickly it passes by. Before I knew it I was consumed with a new baby, and it made her seem even older than she was. I spent her first year worrying about hitting milestones, sleeping through the night, and other normal parental thoughts. With my second baby I have taken a much more laid back, stop and smell the roses approach.
I am certainly not trying to sound like a sanctimommy, I have had more than my share of these moments, in fact this list is based on things I have pushed for, or wondered myself.
So, what is the rush? Why are we rushing our kids along to hit the next step, looking more and more ahead, and not spending enough time to savor the moment?
As soon as we give birth, we want our body back! Maybe we are not all this way, but I admit I obsessed over how much weight I lost right after delivering, and how soon I could get back in my jeans. Magazines show us celebrities with headlines about losing the baby weight in X number of weeks. This only reinforces the belief that we must get back to normal asap! Stop, slow down. You just gave birth. And, if you are breastfeeding it's not really good to even attempt to lose any weight for the first 8 weeks or so. Now after baby number two I am still working on the 'baby weight' but that's life right?
The next obsession, when will my baby sleep through the night?
Yep, guilty of this here too. My daughter slept a lot as apparently all newborns do, but she did not want to sleep at night, oh no she did not. My first goal was to get her days and nights straightened out. Then hope and pray for her to sleep longer stretches at night, and when she did brag about it like it was some great accomplishment on my part.
Then when she had sleep regressions, like most babies do, I freaked out and wondered how to fix it.
Second time around? Yeah, I didn't sweat it as much. Sure, being tired sucks, but we found ways to work around it. Our babies are not really supposed to sleep through the night when they are so young. It's kind of ridiculous that we expect it.
In addition to hoping and pleading with our babies to sleep through the night, we also expect them to sleep alone and be just A okay with it. Whether it is a bed in your room, or putting them in their own room, I truly believe a baby is meant to be with its mother. Just my opinion, but again what is the rush to have them sleep independently in their own room? This is really not in our babies best interest.
As parents, we worry about our babies hitting all the milestones. Is our baby rolling over soon enough, sitting up soon enough, crawling soon enough or walking. It's impossible not to compare our babies to each other when we are involved in so many groups and have the internet to look up every possible thing.
We rush to start solids and look at it as some marker of progress in our children's development. The truth is most infants are starting them too soon.
We want to turn our babies carseats around from rear facing as soon as we can. While many are now aware of the risks involved in this, the notion that turning the car seat marks some kind of independence is still pervasive too. I can't tell you how many times I was questioned once my daughter turned two about when I might turn her car seat around!
Or what about weaning from breastfeeding? I have already written about this, but what is the rush there? Once my babies turned one I was asked when I was going to wean all the time. Well I am happily still nursing my 17 month old and have no rush to wean him. When you think about breastfeeding in the grand scheme of your child's life, it's really not that long at all.
Potty training, whoa this is a big one! Now I am not a potty training pro at all, and while the idea of getting rid of diapers is great, there is no way I am going to push my children to potty train in some sort of boot camp type fashion. If your baby is ready to train very early great, wonderful for you, but if not that's okay too.
And some more steps we are rushing to hit..
Moving our kids from their crib or whatever sleep environment they are in as a baby, to the next step, the big boy or girl bed, or the room all alone before they are ready.
Starting school, and the desire to find the best daycare/preschool while they are still babies (or before they are even born!) because what if they do not get off to a good start in life or into the best college later?
Now my kids are toddlers, so that's all I've got so far.
In the short span of my children's lives, I have been questioned on why my kids are not doing this or that yet and when they will. As if hitting every arbitrary milestone is a measure of my parental success. I wonder how much more this will grow as we move to elementary age and beyond. I am sure it just continues.
I have to wonder why all the rushing? Before we know it we have rushed our kids to hit every milestone and they are leaving for college. I know it's cliche, but remember, they are only this little once.
That isn't to say it's not good to have goals or reach milestones, of course it is, but do we need to put so much pressure on our ourselves and our babies to rush it all along? Once our babies are here, yes everything changes and rushing along to the next step will never change it, whether that is getting our body back asap, getting to sleep all night again or our old life style back.