Last night I had one of those crazy, unbelievably epic long phone conversations. The kind that just don’t happen anymore because we have e-mail and Facebook. It’s easy to post quick comments. It’s convenient to NOT pick up the phone because we’re too busy or it might encroach on our activities but truthfully, there’s nothing that compares to a good long talk with a close friend or in this case, my cousin. We’re a year apart, been married almost the same amount of time, share some similar family dynamics and certainly have our own shared extended family in common. We talked about our lives, our passions, our marriages and our regrets. We laughed and we encouraged. We shared some difficulties and triumphs. Thankfully, we have very similar opinions on many topics so the conversation moved along quickly~ for 4.5 hours. Yes, that’s right, my ENTIRE evening was spent on the phone . And yes, my ear was sore, nearly bruised when we were finally done.
One part of our conversation focussed on our Facebook connections and the crazy things people say and do online. As moms we are often quick to point out the successes of our parenting and lament the failures. A lot of young moms(not necessarily younger than me but with younger children) have pressures today that I didn’t have to contend with. There can be a lot of peer pressure to use certain methods with babies and toddlers and to discipline(or not) a certain way. As a “seasoned” mom myself I am often quick to give advice and often I assume that since I’ve ‘been there done that’ I can be of assistance to the up and comers. Of course, there is value to advice from someone who’s walked in those shoes and I looked to others for advice as well. However, there is NO teacher as good as experience and even though experience 2nd or 3rd hand is useful it won’t get you through the sleepless nights. I can remember feeling so exhausted some days that I wondered how I’d ever make it through. But I did. In fact, I went through about 6 years where I wasblessed if I had even close to 4 hours of sleep in a night, even if it was broken up. I had 4 pregnancies, 4 newborns in 5.5 years. All 4 were completely different and although I got better at certain things each baby took the life right out of me for at least a couple of years. I keep telling my husband that I’m still in recovery mode since my youngest is now 10, in school for her 5th year. It’s taken me this long just to get caught up.
I’ve had friends and family who are mothers give me advice and even presume to know what I was going through and how I could make my life easier. You know what? They were all right. What???!!! Yes, they were. Every single one of those mothers was exactly 100% right on their advice. Yes, I should have taken the bottle away sooner. Yes, I should have forced my husband to get up for at least one nighttime feeding. Yes, it gets better. Yes, you will sleep again. Yes, yes, yes. And you know who else was right? I was. I still am. I am always right. Always. I am the mother of my domain. I am the one who rocked the babies, stayed up with the fevered child, held the puke bucket, took the croupy one to ER late at night, reset the dislocated elbows and reached into a poured basement while 9 months pregnant to pull my 70 lb child to safety.
You see, I have one boy and 3 girls. I am undisciplined and it has spilled over onto my kids. I am married to an over-achieving, hard working farmboy from Saskatchewan who does not know the meaning of ‘good enough’. I’ve had a newborn in the NICU for 2 weeks, 4 c-sections and an IUD pulled out when I was 10 weeks pregnant. I’ve told off doctors and public health nurses and I’ve chosen to not have my babies vaccinated. If you have every one of these things in common with me, then perhaps your advice for me would be EXACTLY what I need at any given moment. But we all know that’s not the case. Your family dynamics are different from mine. Mine are different from my sisters’ and hers are different from what our mother had to deal with. I may not parent the way YOU would but when it comes to my kids, I am ALWAYS right. So, to all of you moms out there who want some advice, ask for it and take it under advisement. But ALWAYS trust your instinct because YOU ARE ALWAYS RIGHT when it comes to your kids. And so am I.