Before having kids, I had a list in my head of things I would never do if I was a mother. It wasn't that I judged my friends, family and strangers for their choices (ok, maybe just a little from time to time) but I thought I was all knowing and knew better. My list went like this. I would never:
- use a pacifier
- let my children eat in their car seats
- use a bottle before 6 months
- and if I did use a bottle, never prop it up
- let my children sleep with me
- be late (yes, I had that in my head- imagine!)
There are likely others I can't remember but these were some big ones.
Then I learned I was pregnant and having twins. My list grew and I added to the irrational thoughts of before. I would never:
- let the babies cry it out
- have anyone touch them without washing their hands or using sanitizer (I bought two cases before they were born)
- use jarred baby food
- run to them when they were crying for no reason
- rock them to sleep past 6 months of age
- baby proof beyond baby gates
- spit on a tissue (or my finger) and wipe a person's face
Fast forward time ahead 10.5 months. Last week, the babies and I were travelling to my parents for a few days. We had left on cue, just before morning nap, and the babies slept like a dream while I filled the car with gas, grabbed a coffee, did the drive through bank and continued on our journey. We had one long wait in construction and the girls slept through it. The second stop in construction was the breaking point. The babies had been in their car seats for 3 hours, napped the required 3 hours and were awake. And hungry. And mad that I would not let them out. We were 14 km from my parents house and I contemplated pulling the car over to the side of the road, getting the stroller out and walking there. Had it not been 34'C I would have. Instead I fished around in my purse and found the golden ticket- 2 arrowroot cookies. I paused for a minute, realizing I was breaking my rule, and then gave them each an arrowroot which they gobbled up happily. While I listened to the silence, I reflected on all the things I thought I would never do and the wisdom I now have only 10.5 months in.
Every single thing I thought I would never do, I have done at one degree or another. I've used baby jarred prunes (you try pureeing prunes), have half my house baby proofed (apparently I thought I would rationalize with them) and have spent many nights snuggled with one and sometimes two babies in bed. Especially when they were very little. I confess, I love snuggles. My husband and I broke into the pacifiers at age 4 months when we were into our 3rd hour of being unable to calm the babies down. Bottles, well, those just became a necessity at times. Although I am proud that we are still breastfeeding and they did not take a bottle until the breastfeeding was fully established. It worked for us and we syringe fed them along with breastfeeding until they were a bit more developed and alert. Rocking them is such a peaceful, soothing activity for all involved. And we do try to help them learn to self soothe, there are times when a girl just needs her mommy or daddy.
I'm learning that is the theme of parenting; it's about choices and trying to do the best thing 98% of the time. A wise colleague and friend told me that. I no longer stress or fret about what happens 2% of the time. I don't consider it a failure but a learning and sometimes a coping. It's about having happy, healthy baby girls and calm, content parents. We try our best and life doesn't go as planned in one's head. Especially raising two at a time.
For all those family, friends and strangers I might have judged before I had children, my apologies. I've lived and learned. Most importantly, I have learned to keep my lists realistic and practical. And that most of us are doing the best we can do, to be the best parents we can be, each day at a time.