I think it’s time I gave myself a bit of a break. I’m my own biggest critic and constantly punishing myself for not being who or what I think I should be.
I don’t have a strict routine for my daughter, we muddle through life in our own special way. I don’t teach her with a stern “No”, and I indulge her by picking her up and comforting her when she cries.
But she remains the single thing in my life that I am proud of beyond all measure.
I must have done something right.
While friends read book after book about “sleep training” and “contented babies”, the few books I have bought, (usually because it seemed like something I should buy), remain unread. Flicked through at best.
I parent by instinct. Using my experience in various pastoral leadership roles at school to help me trust myself. It’s never easy, but my maternal instincts are the strongest I have ever experienced, I’d have to be a fool to fight them, and a strong fool at that.
I beat myself up every day that our six month old has no fixed bed time, let alone a bed time routine. She sleeps when she is tired. I have written previously about our bed sharing in my post While you were sleeping.
Well, I must have done something right. As I write, my darling girl is fast asleep in her own bed in her own room. It is night 6. 4 of the 5 nights so far she has settled happily in her cot, not fed to sleep, and the biggest shock of all, not woken every 2 to 3 hours. In fact, on the first and second night she woke twice, the third she woke once and the fourth she didn’t wake at all. On the fifth night she was unhappy alone and so slept with us in our bed. I did not leave her to cry, I did not stress about routine, I let her guide me, and it seems the time was right. She was ready. Just as my instincts had told me.
I have not bought my daughter the best toys money will buy. She does not have designer clothes. She wears hand me down outfits from friends and family. (She does of course have lovely gifts and we are blessed to have such kind friends.) I have bought from nearly new sales without prejudice and I openly clothe my darling in supermarket nappies. But she is happy, she is mobile and she explores the world. She sees every new object as a toy and has not once shown that she is upset by having a cheaper version of the “best”.
I have not been fortunate enough to take the suggested year off work with my baby. I have had to return and leave my darling with her daddy. And yet my daughter has strong and secure attachments. Separation anxiety does not yet appear to have hit, (although we know of course that it will rear it’s head at some point) and although she can show concern when we leave the room she is easily comforted by friends and family with whom she is familiar. She is excited to see her grandparents, she adores her aunt and loves her wonderful guide parents. And although it is clear, that as her mummy, I am uniquely special to her, she is also clearly loving the special time she is spending with her daddy.
We must be doing something right.
My daughter is happy, she is healthy, she plays and she laughs. She seems to have a thirst for learning and explores the world without fear.
We must be doing something right.
My own mother is wonderful, and frequently reminds me that my daughter is the way she is because of my husband and I.
So, at the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I must be doing something right as a parent.
I apologise for my moment of pride and assure you that the normal service of insecurities and anxiety will return at next posting.