As mum’s we rely alot on advice – from our own mothers, from girlfriends, from clinic sisters, and sometimes just from well meaning strangers in a queue. I know that every new mum also has a “book.” This book is either passed down, or bought with the specific intention of trying to gain a better understanding of what to expect with a newborn, what to do in certain situations, when to call the doctor, or any other advice that will make us BETTER at dealing with parenthood. I have much respect for these types of books, my own book was so well read by the time my first baby was a year old – it was dog eared and crumbling at the spine.
This said, last night I had one of those mummy moments – you know the kind mums. Those moments where your heart physically turns into mush and you experience this gush of love for your little one, and you kinda forget the sleepless nights, the whining, the crying, the vomit ruined Trenery shirt, the pen stained couch, the new household items your kids demolished, etc, etc. Well in that moment, which I will expand on in the next paragraph, I realised how the “book” lied, how the “book” wasn’t always correct, and how the “book” should always be read with the proverbial pinch of salt.
Back to my moment.. we had bathed the kids as usual, Liam was reading his Dad a bed time story (yes, he picture-reads, we listen) and I was settling Hannah in her room. As the “book” instructed, and as I had tried to do since she was born, I put her in her cot, tucked her in and made for the door. As I expected, she shouted at me angrily and was on her feet, stamping in protest, arms outstretched. I scooped her up and we started our slow dance. As I rocked her, singing our favourite tunes – on repeat for as long as it took for her to fall asleep – she fiddled with my ear lobe, she stroked my cheek, she nuzzled into my neck, she patted my back in time to the tune. And that is when I had my light bulb moment.
Any informed mother will tell you that rocking your baby to sleep is a bad habit, they’ll tell you that the “book” says your baby must learn to self-soothe, that your baby must not associate sleeping with YOU phyiscally assisting them – by rocking, breastfeeding them to sleep, or any other physical interaction. The “book” says you should put your baby down, encourage them with sweets words, pat them on the back and say “you’re on your own buddy, count some sheep” and leave the room. Ok, not in those words, but you get my drift. But as I held sweet Hannah, and I got all mushy inside, I thought why in the world would I want to give this up? This closeness, the quiet bonding time, this special feeling of holding my babe in my arms, and she clutching onto me like I was the only thing she loved in the world! Hannah is growing so quickly, she’s moving out of infancy and onto toddler-hood, and then she’ll be classified as a “child” not a baby! There’ll be plenty of time for her to self-soothe, to put herself to sleep, for me to yell “get back into your bed, young lady!” But for now, while she still lets me, I WANT to rock her to sleep, it’s 20 minutes in my day that I thoroughly look forward to, that I can’t wait for (no, not because it means she’ll be asleep for the rest of the night!), 20 minutes that the “book” is encouraging me to avoid at all costs – what nonsense!
With the beauty of hindsight, I see how quickly time has flown with Liam. He doesnt let me rock him to sleep anymore, he won’t even let me stroke his hair, unless he is sick and feeling very poorly. Instead I must lay there quietly and listen to him sing (yes, this kid likes to take the lead). As he drifts off, I sneakily snuggle up close to him; I’ve got to use all my wiles to get a cuddle in these days. So while I can, I will rock my baby to sleep because I know this moment is fleeting and I’d rather she rely on me to ease her into lala-land, I’d rather she feel the warmth and comfort of her mama’s love, than the lifeless clutch at a security blanket or a dummy – I think it makes for sweeter dreams..
So while I think the “book” is great for advice, and for giving you a perspective you may not have considered before, I also believe that mum knows best and even if we defy all the rules – if your baby wakes up with a smile and arms outstretched, you’re doing it right!