These Are My Choices

>> Wednesday, January 28, 2009

As mothers, we make decisions daily about how we are going to parent our kids. What should I serve for lunch? Do I need to offer more vegetables this week? How do I discipline him for throwing that toy? Do I offer the potty again or wait for him to tell me he has to go? Should I clean the kitchen or do that puzzle he's asking me to help with? These are just some of the small, daily decisions.
But motherhood presents us with bigger choices than that. How long do I let him cry? Will he sleep with me or alone in his crib? Will I wear him for his naps? How does he spend his awake time? We all answer those questions differently according to our own personalities, our life experiences and the personalities of our kids.
I make my decisions from my heart, as I'm sure most of you do too. I truly try to think of what is best for my boys and for our family.

My boys sleep with me, for as long as it is beneficial for us both (OK, mostly for them). I don't get the deepest of sleep that way. But I get more uninterrupted sleep (I don't ever get out of bed) and the cuddles make it all worth while. They are only babies for a short time and I want to drink it all in.
I wear my babies, both of them, whenever I can. I want them to know they belong to me and are deeply connected to me. I don't have much personal space this way. I have some little person physically attached to me at almost every point of the day, and it gets a little weary. But I do it for a reason, 2 reasons really.
I let Lucas make his own decisions about most things. I give him choices and respect his decision, to a point. I try to honor his attempts to be independent and encourage the good decisions. This means things don't always happen the way I want them to. I do put my foot down for the important things. But, I like watching him become his own person.
I usually give Lucas what he wants. If he wants to eat lunch in the living room and watch his favorite movie, I usually do it 'cuz I like giving him what he wants. If he asks me to sit by his bed and rub his legs, I do it. He may be manipulating me, but if there is any shred of genuine desire to have his mama near I have to be there. This makes me somewhat of a pushover and makes discipline hard sometimes.
I am horrible at discipline and don't do it well. I try and sometimes do OK. But often I either lose my cool or let him walk all over me. Neither one is optimal, but I am working on it.
I pick up Caden when he cries. I rarely let him cry, unless it can't be avoided. I would much rather put him on my back and continue what I am doing than leave him to cry and try to filter it out. There are times when I need him to be content on his own, and he isn't accustomed to doing that, so it is hard for me because I do hold him so much.
I take things personally because I let myself be SO connected to my boys. I want them to be happy and to deeply know they are my world. Them being so connected to me makes them want to only be with me. Or at least prefer to be with me. And this means it is sometimes hard for me to leave them with anyone else, especially Caden. And this is mentally and physically exhausting.
I like to get down on the floor and play, really play, with each boy. It is intense and draining and would be easier to put on a movie (which I do sometimes) or tune them out. But that is not how I want to nurture their minds and hearts and little souls.

I have friends who don't wear their babies, whose kids sleep in their crib from night one, who let them cry until they learn to sleep through the night or nap on a schedule. Those are their choices and they have their own benefits and disadvantages, just as mine do. They aren't better or worse moms than I am. We just make different choices. I find myself feeling insecure about my decisions when I hear someone talk about something different. Should I not co-sleep with my kids? Should I let Caden cry? But that is not me. The choices I have made so far, that is me. And I know that my choices have consequences for me. I am tired, sore, at times overwhelmed and in need of some personal space. Perhaps more so than a mother that puts up more defined boundaries. But even in light of that, I wouldn't have it any other way. I have made these decisions because I put the needs of my boys above my own, for better or for worse. Some of the decisions I make contribute to me reaching my limit. I play it cool until I reach my limit and then I break. And when I break, I am not proud of my behavior. I am realizing lately that I do need to put some self-care closer to the top of my priority list. But over all, I am counting these years as a time when my own needs are secondary to the needs of my boys.

I have the rest of my life to sleep all night with the covers pulled up to my chin. For now, this is what I choose. It is hard, very hard, but it is what is right for me and my boys and that is what really matters.


Atwood-Family of 3 January 29, 2009 at 7:34 AM  

So true that this time is so short and we do have the rest of our lives to "sleep with the covers pulled up to our chins". Unfortunately, my "breaking point" where I take it out on my child (soon to be children) comes very quickly and very easily so I am that mom that has let her kid cry very early on, lets her play alone, has a very structured schedule, etc. But I came to grips with that peace with that early on, becuase I knew what I became to her and for her when I didn't do that. Of course, I hope to be more "like you" this time around-to be more tolerent of fussing, middle of the night wakings, napping on me more often (which was one area I actually "succeeded" in-wearing her often and LONG), etc. But I know if I can't do it and we fall back to the way we have been doing it, I have the support of my husband 100% and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it is best for my kids and myself. Thanks for making both ways of parenting-yours and mine-ok because in the end they are what are best for our individual kids and families.

mommaof4wife2r January 29, 2009 at 1:05 PM  

choices are hard, but they are our own. and that's a good thing.

Melinda January 29, 2009 at 1:09 PM  

I felt like I could have written this post almost word for word myself, just saying my girls instead of boys.

I have practiced both styles of parenting that you mention, AP and more defined boundaries. I've not worn any of my girls but I did hold Aspen a lot and we still cosleep.

I can honestly say, overall that the AP choices seem to work better for me and my family. Yes, it does get tiring when the little one only wants you, but after a while that will naturally shift. These days Aspen has gotten much closer with her Dad and they play a lot together. She eats up his attention and now sometimes clearly chooses his company over mine.

Yes it gets tiring when she has a restless night and keeps me up because she's in bed with me. But if she were in her own bed I'd actually be UP, not just awake.

Yes, it gets tiring that I don't get much "me" time, but I find that I am very fortunate that my older girls will help out while I shower or read or on rare occasions even nap.

AP is tougher when they're little but I think it can really pay off as they get older. As Aspen nears age 4, she shows a remarkable capacity for compassion and gentleness that I believe comes from a sense of security that AP provides.

As for discipline, I find I am better with that now that she is older. The more willful she becomes the more I see the need to set and stick by firm boundaries. I always try positive reinforcement first, like asking her to tell me why she should not throw her toys. If she is out of control though, a time out and firm explanation of why her current behavior us unacceptable usually works. If things get rough, my hubby will back me up and typically all he has to do is remind her to obey me and she will settle down.

Consistency is the key to success with discipline. It's tough, but necessary!

I got your email about the clothes too, I am so excited!! look for a paypal from me tomorrow for the shipping.

Heather February 1, 2009 at 7:36 PM  

You're an awesome mama and I respect your choices...they are yours to make. I think that's the biggest lesson I've learned talking to other parents is that every family has to decide what's best for them.

I can relate to the discipline stuff as you know...that's why I'm working on "protective boundaries" with Juliette. Trudy gave me that phrase and it's helping me. I hope you continue to find your own way through all that comes with Lucas and Caden.

Baby Love Slings


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