When you become a new parent, everyone has advice for you. “She needs to wear a hat!” “You need to feed her every two hours, no more, no less.” “Don’t take her outside. She’ll get sick!” “Move her head. She isn’t comfortable like that.” “Where’s her hat? She needs to be wearing a hat!”
It is overwhelming, exhausting and only occasionally helpful.
When my second daughter was born, I was ready. I had answers and reasoning for every piece of parenting advice. Bring it on! I thought to myself as I took my daughter out into the world. But the suggestions didn’t come. People smiled, admired and complimented. No one told me I was holding her incorrectly, not feeding her enough, or feeding her too much. No one grimaced at the clothes she was wearing or the carrier she was nestled in. People just let me parent.
By the time your second child has entered the world, you have graduated from advice receiver to advice giver.
I’ve now had over a year with the title “advice giver” and am struggling with how to offer up the best advice I can without causing all of the emotions in new mothers as “advice givers” past had done to me. I could tell them what worked for me, what didn’t, what I enjoyed, and what my baby enjoyed. I could tell them about the amazing moments and I could tell them about the hard ones.
As I stood today, rocking my 15 month old daughter in my arms, as her eyes slowly slid closed and she drifted off to sleep, I thought of a quote I had seen somewhere across the internet recently, “Whatever’s good for your soul…do that,” and as I thought of the quote, I thought of my own soul, in that moment. There was no place in the entire world that my youngest daughter, my baby, wanted to be more than she wanted to be in my arms in that moment. Now if that isn’t good for the soul, I don’t know what is.
The funny thing is, “Don’t rock her to sleep! You’ll regret it!” was one of the many pieces of parenting advice I had received in those initial months with my firstborn. I remember every time I did rock her to sleep, I couldn’t help but worry about the regrets to come. I researched other ways to get her to sleep. I tried to put her down “drowsy, but awake” as they had told me to do. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes I rocked her. Did it matter in the long run?
Does my 3½-year-old now sneak into our bed in the middle of the night to snuggle between my husband and I because I rocked her too much? Maybe. Do I regret it? Not in the slightest. Do I look around when rocking my second daughter, hoping no one sees me doing the unthinkable act of rocking my baby to sleep? Never. Do I worry she too will sneak into our bed for middle of the night snuggles when she is 3? By gosh, I hope she does.
I have two daughters in this world, two daughters in this lifetime. If they want to spend one extra moment of their lifetimes snuggling with their mama, I’ll take it. My soul is ready. Sign me up.