I didn’t realize I had to pick a parenting philosophy when we got pregnant. Like any new mom, I googled everything I could think of, any question, any idea. Everything parent-related. When you start reading other pregnancy forums in a similar situation as you, you start to notice a trend. I started seeing threads pop up with titles like “Should I do AP or CIO?” or “I can’t decide if we should co-sleep or not.” Many were things I hadn’t really thought of to tell you the truth. I just wanted to get through the pregnancy and labor as safely as possible. But of course, when you keep seeing topics show up about being a “crunchy mom” or “to vaccinate or not to vaccinate” you sort of get sucked in and want to know what it all means.
I knew there were certain things I wanted to avoid when we had our baby (i.e. co-sleeping) and things I wanted to strive for (i.e. baby wearing). I planned on cloth diapering. I planned on vaccinating and circumcising Asher. I wanted him to sleep in our room for a little while, just not in our bed. I didn’t want to nurse him to sleep. I wanted to try and put him down to sleep drowsy, but awake, and the list could go on and on. I found that there was this sort of invisible line drawn that said “if you’re this kind of parent, you should join this mom’s online group.” A voice that said “pick which philosophy you will parent by.” Honestly, this stressed me out. As a first-time parent, you are already worried about soooo many things (which I’m learning doesn’t really go away) and getting sucked into the debate of co-sleeping or not can swallow you up!
What’s funny about all this, is that I’m not so sure it was always quite this way. When I asked my mom (almost 70 years old) if she knew what Attachment Parenting was, she laughed and thought it meant you were a stay at home parent who was with your children all the time. When I asked her if she knew what parents meant when they referred to CIO, she wasn’t really sure. Of course every generation has their labels and my mom said there was always the lady down the road who let her kids run the house and stay up late and the mom who was known to always be home for nap time, but that was it. Everyone just chose their path and as long as the kids were loved and fed and taken care of, you minded your own business.
In one of the online groups I’m in, I came across a mom who had read an article and the author said that a mom who vaccinates loves her child just as much as a mom who doesn’t vaccinate. (If you know that article, please let me know!) What an amazing idea. Understanding this and applying it to your life takes great maturity. To say “I disagree with your choices but can still respect your choice” and then to really live by that is tough. We’re human, so of course we easily go into judgmental mode and say, “tisk tisk, they let their baby cry when he goes down for bed ” or “I can’t believe they don’t let their baby sleep with them.” I know as my child gets older it will soon turn into age appropriate judgments. But you know what? I want to be less judgmental. I want to be judged less. If that means leaving online mom groups, then that’s what I’m doing. If it means checking Facebook less, (eeek) then so be it! I really do believe that the parent down the road loves their child just as much as I do. I have to believe this. Otherwise, I’ll waste so much energy. I want to focus my energy on my little guy and how exciting it is to watch him try to crawl. How excited he gets when he can throw applesauce on the floor for our dogs to lick up.
I don’t know which “philosophy” is the best method. I only know what works for me and my husband and our little family. I could do all sorts of research out there and find theories and science that supports whatever I want to believe, really. I’m tired of the labels. I’m tired of labeling. I am officially the kinda crunchy, sorta AP, vaccinating, cloth diapering, let-my-child cry sometimes, 5 month solid feeding, baby wearing, and the list could on, momma who loves her little guy just as much as the next momma. That’s what really matters people.