Your kids navigate the world based on morals, not these mommy-blogging trends.
By Darla Halyk
We as parents are given copious amounts of responsibility when the nurse hands our baby to us in the delivery room. It’s like: "Here you go. Hold this little human being (that you know nothing about) and keep it alive, okay, got it?"
Somehow we do; we keep them alive and do everything we can to raise them to the best of our ability. But that doesn't mean we don't carry an intense fear of fucking them up. Parental guilt washes over us the moment that baby screams its way into our unprepared arms.
Again, we power through and do all we can to raise our precious urine-, puke- and poop-filled bundles of joy. With a hope that they become happy Adults (and eventually get the hell out of our house.)
I am not the first, and certainly not the last Mom to watch my children become grown-ups.
Hopefully, they mature into self-sufficient adults who are eternally grateful for my many years of parenting -- which has always been my goal as a mother. Oh, yes, and to keep these stretchmark-makers alive.
But now I am raising two strong-willed, intelligent, mindful teenagers whom I have the pleasure of watching develop and learn to become their own people. And by the pleasure I mean, when did they begin talking back so damn much? I should never have taught them freedom of speech. I jest.
I have tried my best to raise my walking and talking hormonal-refugees to have a voice and to stand up for what they believe in, as well as to be fair and humane.
It's insane to me that they are navigating the world based on how I raised them. It's an overwhelming concept. One I have not taken lightly, and one that scares me to death.
These two kids are taking a piece of me out into the world; they are basing their morals, standards, and values all by which I have taught them. Scary, no? Yes, but truly the most important part of my parenting journey thus far (oh, yes, and I reiterate, keeping them alive.).
It is something that has taken me many parenting years to realize. Oh, yeah, and my son saying to me the other day, "Rayne told me she is a better person because you breastfed her and not me."
Insert sound of screeching tires, a needle being scratched off a vinyl record or whatever your "What the actual fuck?" sound is.
Without getting into the semantics of that conversation (in which I sat both my children down and explained drinking breastmilk does not make someone a better person), I came to realize what really does matter when raising a child. Funnily enough, it wasn't that I breastfed or bottle fed, but that I simply did to keep them alive.
With that in mind, here are four things that will not make your child a better adult:
1. Cloth Diapers
When my son was born, I was hell-bent on using cloth diapers. Not the fancy-ass cloth diapers they sell or deliver to you now. I am talking CLOTH diapers with that huge-ass pin. The pin you had to navigate sticking into the diaper and not your squirming worm-like child. Yes, the pin had a cute little duck on the end of it, but it didn't take away from the sharp syringe-like needle you were pointing in the direction of your baby's belly button.
Once you finally pinned the diaper -- and not your kid -- you had to put him in rubber pants. Yup, rubber pants that either constricted your fat-legged baby to the point of ischaemia or leaked so badly you were cleaning the shit out of anything this child went near.
Cloth diapers did not make my child a better person.
Hot topic, this I know, but not one that will make your child a good human being.
Before I am burned at the stake in a Salem Witch-type manner, please know that I breastfed my daughter for 11 glorious months until she weaned herself directly to a cup. My daughter wouldn't take a bottle no matter how hard I tried.
However, my son -- poor guy -- had a hard time latching on to my engorged beach ball-like breasts. After three, long, painful months, I got mastitis and could no longer breastfeed. My son was bottle fed from that moment on.
And with the honesty of Mother Theresa, I will tell you this: My daughter was the difficult child, but not a bad human being. So I say with great certainty, breastfeeding is good for your baby, and it will most definitely keep them alive, but so will bottle feeding. Neither of these will make them a better human being in the long run.
3. Organic Homemade Food
I did it, and I wouldn't change a thing. Every week I had organic vegetables delivered to my door. I spent hours upon hours filtering peas through a metal strainer, because there was no such thing as the baby bullet. I cooked free-range chicken for hours to ensure a mushy consistency; eventually I even learned to create a baby cereal recipe of my own -- all natural, pesticide free. I was a regular Martha Fucking Stewart, at one point cultivating my own apple juice.
My kids ate and still do eat very well. That doesn't mean I didn't fight tooth and nail to get them to eat some days. Of course, I did. Toddlers are little food-fighting assholes. Are my kids healthier for it? I don’t know, but I do know they are not better human beings because of it.
4. Sleeping, Co-Sleeping or anything to do with sleeping
My son was close to 18 months old, and I was rocking that 34-pound child to sleep every night (on the plus side: kick-ass arms.) My daughter fell asleep on her own from the moment she came home from the hospital. Staying asleep for her, an entirely different animal. She would sleep for two hours at the most, and when she did, it was in my bed. My son would not come into my bed even if he thought the house was on fire.
My point is: Do what you want. Co-sleep, rock them to sleep, let them cry it out, don't let them dry it out. Obviously keep them safe but know that those things are going to keep you sane not your children. Those things will not make them better human beings in the long run.
I promise you, eventually they will sleep and when they are teenagers, they will do nothing but sleep.
What I know is that my children are not better people because of the things I did to keep them alive. They are better people because I instilled values in them, teaching them right from wrong.
It genuinely didn't matter how long I breastfed them. Or how long it took to potty train them.
Look, I kept them alive. I am pretty sure that was goal No. 1. Goal number two and the only other goal I care about: them becoming good heartfelt caring adults. All of the rest doesn't really matter in the long run.