I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
November 20, 2007
>When Punky was an infant, I must have read a good dozen baby manuals. I consulted baby magazines, baby websites, baby DVDs, and I messaged my pediatrician’s office once or twice a week with questions. I may not have started out knowing much about babies, but I was determined to become an expert for my child’s sake.
Bruiser’s upbringing has been entirely different. It started when I couldn’t find my copy of What to Expect the First Year anywhere, which was my Baby Bible when Punky was an infant. “Oh well,” I said to myself. “I’ll just wing it.” And that’s what I’ve done ever since. I am bringing Bruiser up without the benefit of Ferberization, Attachment Parenting, or the principles laid out by The Baby Whisperer. I’m not anxiously comparing his monthly milestones to the ones kindly provided for me on Babycenter.com, nor am I trying to make him The Happiest Baby on the Block. When something has seemed wrong with him, I’ve taken him to see the doctor. When I’ve had questions, I’ve asked my friends, not to mention you guys. Parenting by Instinct seems to have worked out fine so far, but it’s led to some entirely different decisions from the ones I would have made with Punky. Like this one:
“I’m letting Bruiser cry it out now,” I said airily to a friend yesterday, duly noting the look of horror that spread across her face for a split second before she managed to compose herself. Benevolently, I let it slide. She was only a first time mom, after all, I snickered to myself.
“You are?” she asked suspiciously. I could tell she was wondering if there was a punchline.
“Yeah, you know, I never, ever would have thought I would let a child of mine cry it out, but my gut just told me it was time.”
It’s true. After nearly eight months of running to his room between one and five times a night, there finally came a night when I was so tired that when I heard his squawking on the baby monitor, I… I… turned the volume down. Oh yes I did. Someone call DPS.
I woke early the next morning and remembered seconds later what I had done. In horror, I ran to his room. Oh no. Oh no no no no. He would never trust me again. He would never be the same. He would be suspicious of everyone and everything from now on. I had ruined my baby!!!! Breathlessly, I opened the door to his room and rushed to his crib… and there he was, looking strangely… fine. He had just woken (back) up, and was happily gurgling away while playing with his feet.
That’s when I realized that it was time. Time to let him cry it out. Of course, there were ground rules and experimentation involved in my decision. I resolved, for example, to never let the crying get to that red-faced, choking, falsetto-y screeching point, the point he would have quickly reached as a younger baby. That shit freaks me out. But parenting by instinct helped me realize that his “crying” now at night is just for show. When, rather than swooping him up and rocking him, I instead opted to leave him in his crib, all hell did indeed break loose and he yelled like someone was sticking him with a pin. But within two minutes, he’d given that up, decided I wasn’t coming back, gotten bored, realized he was hella tired…. AND GONE BACK TO SLEEP.
My baby has been manipulating me! Gah!
And now I’m left wondering why I didn’t go with my gut long ago and why instinct-based parenting is really so out of fashion. We’re all so afraid that others will judge us for our parenting decisions that we think we need to have an “expert’s” philosophy to rattle off to naysayers in order to justify our actions. But damn. They’re just babies. How hard could it be?