There’s been a rash of births around our office and my neighborhood lately, and I’ve found myself entertaining the most wonderful questions from friends and colleagues.
-Will I ever be able to leave the baby by himself for one night? I just can’t imagine it.
-Will it kill the baby to do cry it out?
-Will it kill me to do cry it out?
-Is it really bad to use a pacifier or is that just one of those things that annoying parents say?
-What do you do when you get together with old friends and realize you are totally uncomfortable with their parenting choices?
-Does breastfeeding really take the weight off?
-How the heck did you manage to work on no sleep at all? This is crazy! I’m exhausted!
Oh, and to clarify, they’re not wonderful questions because they’re wonderful situations. They’re wonderful questions because they’re not mine.
It makes me realize I probably don’t get to wear the new mom label anymore.
Not just just because the questions make me think, been there, survived that, wouldn’t go through it again if you begged me. But because when I go to answer, I now know the secret that “old” moms have: there’s no one right answer to anything in parenting.
Oh, it doesn’t stop me from answering. I still have my opinions. But I also know this:
For every kid that used a pacifier without incident, I’m sure there’s one who was somehow horribly traumatized by its removal.
For every baby who survived circumcisions, CIO, formula feeding, sleeping with crib bumper, and wintry days without a wool hat, there’s surely some tragic news story out there that contradicts it entirely.
For every stay at home mom who grapples with her decision, there’s a working mom who feels the very same way.
So when I hear these questions, I find myself answering, “do what feels right” a whole lot.
Just do what feels right.
That’s mostly what parenting is.
Here’s the other secret I’ve figured out after more than (eek) six years; I also know that while your kid may have been walking 2 weeks before the other kids in his playgroup, or signing at 7 months, or able to recite Ovid quotes in Latin at two, you are entitled to be crazy proud. But please know it’s no guarantee of a lock on Harvard. Frankly, it’s no guarantee that he won’t be the kid in Kindergarten who eats chalk.
(Shh…don’t tell the newbies. Let them have their moment.)
My kids still feel like new kids to me. But I am feeling less and less like a new mom. I suppose it’s bittersweet.
When did you stop feeling like a new mom? Or does it ever stop?