Breaking The "Rules"
When I became a Mom I knew there would be adjustments to our lives and I knew I would run into many situations where I just wouldn't know what the "right choice" would be, but I did know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this child that I had waited years for, was mine and I'd do anything to protect him. Anything.
One thing I really hadn't thought about having to deal with though? Outside influence and what others perceived the "parenting rules" to be. My husband and I were just discussing this the other day and he agreed on how unprepared he was as well that others seem to think they have a say in decisions made or have a right to question your parenting decisions.
My entire life my Mom has said many times over that every child is different and the best choice for one isn't necessarily going to be the best choice for the next. So in my mind, there are no parenting rules because there isn't a one-size-fits-all and apparently my "rule breaking" began day one.
I broke the "rules" in the hospital by not using the little baby bed they brought in. Yup, not even at night. I understand why the hospital has the baby bed rule in place, but I held my baby all night long because he still had some amniotic fluid in his lungs that would cause him to choke. I alerted the nurse more than once, but she said it was normal and the one time I laid him in his bed so I could run to the bathroom while my husband slept, I came out to my son choking on this fluid. I held him all night long and then in the morning when my husband woke, he held him while I got some sleep. I did what was best for him and I and I didn't care what the "rules" were.
For my sons first Christmas at six months old, we had already decided that Santa would not be a belief in our house. I wasn't raised believing in Santa. My parents viewed that as lying to me and we grew up with very little money so they wanted us to know what we got was from them and understand when other kids were getting a million extravagant gifts from "Santa" why we weren't receiving the same from this pretend being. We appreciated so much more every little thing we got knowing it was from my parents and Christmas was still can't-contain-yourself exciting. My husband was raised believing in these things and when we discussed whether our child would, we immediately agreed that it wasn't the right choice for our family.
What I never thought would happen? Being questioned as to not just WHY we made the decision, but whether our child would have a less enjoyable Christmas as a result.
Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny......when did these become rules that parents are expected to follow?
At ten months old my son was diagnosed with a few food allergies. As a result, I went through my entire home and removed anything that contained his allergens. Considering he's teething and his hands are always in his mouth, I also insist on hand washing before anyone touches him, especially if they've been eating. I take the precautions that I feel at this age need to be taken. I'm the one who has stayed awake at night for 6+ hours monitoring my sons breathing to be sure he doesn't have a biphasic reaction in his sleep and yet someone has still felt they were allowed to suggest that I am overreacting. Thankfully, it was said to my husband and not to me directly!
The same time my son was diagnosed with food allergies, I spoke with a nurse regarding whether those specific food items should be eliminated from my diet and she told me I'd be finished breastfeeding in two months. Says who?! I literally said that to her and then proceeded to educate her on the AAP recommending breastfeeding until the age of two. Does that matter though? Shouldn't it be up to the child and/or parents of the child as to when breastfeeding discontinues? Apparently, I'm breaking the "you stop breastfeeding rule at 12 months of age" rule considering at 21 months there is no sign of slowing down and I am perfectly okay with that. At this time, if that is what my son needs nutritionally or just comfort-wise, my husband and I are both more than okay with.
When we brought our son home from the hospital, he and I napped during the day with him tucked in my arms in my bed, but at night I tried to utilize a little cosleeper bed next to ours. Every single time I laid my baby down, he woke up. The only place he would sleep was in my arms. We were both so incredibly sleep deprived. At seven weeks old he got his first cold and I was terrified so he slept in my arms all night long and it was the best sleep he or I had gotten in almost two months. After that, we gave up on the little baby bed and just started cosleeping. I did look up safe cosleeping practices and even saved a pediatricians blog regarding why he BELIEVES in cosleeping and how you can gradually transition out of if when everyone feels the time is right. But this was the only way my little one got any sleep and quite frankly, I'm not sure how I would have functioned getting up so many times every night and being that sleep deprived so it has saved me as well. Even to this day, my son is up at least three times a night to nurse. Sometimes, he doesn't nurse because he's hungry, rather he suckles for comfort because cutting twelve teeth over the past three months has been a lot on him. I was told when we started cosleeping that I was breaking "cardinal rule number one".
My husband and I continue to make decisions about our family's future that I know (based on outside influence we have already received), will be questioned or unsolicited opinions will be given and my stance continues to be; this is OUR child. This is OUR family. We have and will continue to do what is best for us regardless of outside opinions and if being a mother has taught me one thing, it's how to be assertive and take a stand regarding the protection of my family and I see that same change in my husband since becoming a father as well.
So please Mama's, there are no rules in parenting and your family. Ignore the unsolicited advice and opinions (if you choose to) and don't be afraid to stand up/speak up and do what is best for your little ones because no one knows better than you do what that best thing is.