When I think back to Nora’s infancy, there are SO many things I would do differently now (yes, it was a bumpy road for me!)
However, I know that without Nora’s fussy, colicky, clingy, high-needs personality, I wouldn’t have experienced the intense “crash course” in parenting, nor would I have learned nearly as much about motherhood.
It was a steep learning curve, that’s for sure — but if I’m really honest, I have ALWAYS learned best by trial-and-error (much to the dismay of my parents!) and Nora definitely gave me plenty of trial-and-error opportunities!
Maybe I owe Nora a big “thank you” for helping me to fail so many times those first few years that I now feel so much more confident in my mothering abilities and the decisions I make — even if “they” say I should do it differently.
And by “they”, I mean anyone who gives unsolicited advice — family, friends, neighbors, strangers, books, magazines, online articles, and even the “experts”.
I know the advice was usually given with good intentions, but when I think back to those first couple of torturous years, one of the reasons motherhood was so challenging for me is because I tried so hard to listen to everything “they” said.
Sometimes I felt like I was going crazy trying to do and try everything that “always worked” for everyone else but never worked for me. It seemed that everything “they” said just left me feeling even more frustrated, confused, and defeated.
Even trivial things like how often to give her a bath became stressful for me. One nurse told me to give her a bath every night to help calm her down, then a fellow mom friend said that was way too often as it would dry out her skin. Sigh…
But here we are now, with an almost 5-year-old product of my trial-and-error parenting method… and she turned out just fine so far!
As with almost every facet of my life, once I find my own way (usually through trial and error), I have a renewed confidence that propels me forward without worrying or stressing about what anyone else says I should be or could be doing, eating, wearing, saying, thinking, etc.
While I’m certainly not opposed to seeking out advice from others, or even accepting some of the unsolicited advice that is thrown my way, I know my own life has been significantly improved by simply trusting my own instincts and not always listening to what “they” say.
Let me give you a few more examples…
I can vividly remember taking a 1-credit “jogging class” in college (I had to meet a requirement and it was the only class that fit into the rest of my schedule). The professor talked about how important it was to stay hydrated… and that we should ideally drink WARM water because our bodies can use and process warm water more quickly than cold water.
Then, a couple weeks later, we had a guest speaker come in and she specifically stated that it’s more beneficial to drink cold water because our bodies burn more calories in an effort to bring that water to room temperature.
Thankfully, I really don’t care about the temperature of my water, so I just drink whatever water is most convenient at the time and don’t worry about what “they” say!
After we bought our farmhouse, we were told over and over and over again how certain renovations we wanted to do wouldn’t be good for resale. Everyone had an opinion on color, style, price, etc… and everyone’s opinions were different!
Thankfully, I knew EXACTLY what vision I had for our farmhouse, and Dave was behind me 100%. We did what WE wanted to do and I’m so happy we didn’t take shortcuts or worry about what “they” said to do.
As I alluded to above, there are so many baby and toddler experts who contradict other experts by saying things like:
- “Babies should ALWAYS sleep on their backs.” and “For colicky babies, you might try putting them on their tummies.”
- “Vaccines are the enemy.” and “Vaccines save lives.”
- “Parents should never spank a child or give them a time out.” and “Parents are too easy on their children these days.”
- “Kids shouldn’t snack during the day.” and “Avoid meltdowns and tantrums by making sure your kids aren’t hungry during the day.”
Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot about parenting these past (almost) 5 years and I’m now confident enough to make my own informed decisions, seek guidance when necessary, and smile and nod about everything else “they” say.
If you have any interest in food, you know that it’s basically impossible to eat the “right” thing.
- Some say low-fat diets are the way to go, others say we need lots of healthy fats
- Some say low-carb is a healthier diet, others say not to worry much about carbs
- Some say gluten-free is better for our bodies, others say it’s not worth all the hype
- Some say we must eat organic produce, others say it’s not worth the extra cost
- Some say sugar is the problem, others say fat is the problem
- Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, whole foods, organic, all-natural, whole grain, etc. there are so many “right ways” and “wrong ways” and they often completely contradict each other!
Thankfully, I’ve never been one to jump aboard any dieting trend or fad, and I’ve simply adopted the philosophy of “everything in moderation”. There really is no sense even trying to eat everything “they” say to eat!
Most recently, I did a little online research about Diastasis Recti (when your stomach muscles separate after being pregnant and don’t go back together). I was specifically looking for some exercises and stretching that I could do to help it “go away” (maybe that’s being too optimistic!)
I found hundreds of blog posts, online articles, medical journals, and “expert opinions” — and you know what, most of them directly contradicted what another one of the people or articles said.
Several articles said crunches and planks were the absolute WORST thing to do, and other websites insisted that crunches and planks were the ticket to flatter abs again. I even know several people in real life who swear a certain method works for them… only to have another friend or relative tell me the exact opposite.
Thankfully, I’m really not too worried about my abs right now, so I’ll just keep taking my kids for walks and not stress about doing what “they” say will work 🙂
Obviously some of the examples above are very trivial in the scheme of life… but they do prove my point that there is very rarely one single “right way” to do anything.
Someone else will always have a different opinion, a different viewpoint, a different perspective, and a different preference — that’s not bad, that’s just life.
Certainly, some of the responsibility falls on our own shoulders as we must do our research, be informed, and not always take everyone else’s opinions as the cold hard truth. However, I think we also need to do a better job of trusting ourselves, our guts, our instincts, and our own experiences to help us make the best choice for us right now.
I’m fairly confident we would all be so much happier if we stopped always worrying about what “they” say.