As I expected my first child, I knew I would breastfeed exclusively, I knew I would give birth outside of a hospital, I knew I would not use TV and that my child would be clothed in cotton and playing with open ended, preferably wooden toys.
I also was pretty sure I would not fall into the ‘trap’ of letting my child control my life to the extent that my sleep would be disturbed for years, or that my breasts were on demand for years (horrors!). Or that my social life came to an end. I had an unexplored belief that children had the potential to be nasty little terrors who manipulated their parents.
It rocked my world to discover that my baby was not trying to manipulate me. He really needed me. If he was crying he was in pain, hungry or tired. He really did not have an agenda to destroy my life, even though it felt like it at times. And being told that I was too weak to resist his manipulation only p*ssed me off.
He would only sleep next to me and only fall asleep on my breast. Weeks became months, (which has almost become two years) and this has become my daily reality. I would have shuddered in pure horror if someone would have told me my almost 2 year old would still be breastfeeding and in our bed. I would have sworn to make sure it would never happen, under any circumstances. I remember listening to a friend who gave birth months before me sharing her woes of having a baby in bed and feeding on demand, and how that really upset many people in her extended family. I kinda agreed with them in my heart. Being pregnant I had to know all about it already…. (not!).
And I have learnt so much in these two years.
My baby fed on demand. He sleeps in our bed and I do my best to meet his needs, while also allowing for him to understand I have needs as he grows in his understanding of human relationships.
In many ways this seriously rocked my world. I did a dramatic about turn in my thinking. And it has unsettled me in a certain way. I feel a little less confident and certain of myself. (I also feel very satisfied as a mother parenting in tune with both my childs’ needs, and mine) I have had to reassess my beliefs and expectations on so many things through the heart of a mother. I am a little cautious when it comes to embracing anything to the extent that it closes off other options. The mind set of having it all ‘sorted’ and relying on an external authority or a philosophy for guiding my choices did not play out well for me. There is still a small part of me still wonders about me changing my philosophy on infant care so dramatically. Of course it suits me better to parent as I am parenting now. But what does it say about all the assumptions I have made in my life? How do I trust myself to know what is best?
I long for that experience of having the peace of knowing that there are no existential questions to be asked. That on a fundamental level I am at peace with myself and my choices and the questions that I pose myself are of a more practical nature and less of an existential one. I am slowing down in my use of disussion boards. I no longer feel the need to check myself and make sure that I am not missing something in how I go about making my choices in my life.
I’m getting there.