You are the one who made me a mum, and that didn't come without a very steep learning curve. There were many things that came naturally to me — loving you, soothing you back to sleep, and instinctively figuring out what each of your cries meant — but there were so many things I didn't know. So, I did what many new mums do. I tapped into the biggest resource at my disposal: other mums.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on every facet of motherhood, and it's overwhelming to say the least. While much of the information was amazing and helpful, a lot if it was not. My biggest struggles with you revolved around sleeping and eating, and because I had no frame of reference, I took the advice I was given.
I wish I hadn't.
When it came to food, I went by the book. If it said "6 months and up," I didn't dare give it to you at 5 months and 29 days. Everyone around me was so rigid in what they gave their kids and when, and because they seemed to have good reasoning, I followed suit. Although you pretty much ate everything by the time you were a toddler, I can't help but wonder if the "by-the-book" mentality had anything to do with your picky eating now. Honestly, though, this is small potatoes (pun intended) compared to my regrets regarding sleep training.
I made every mistake in the book with your sleeping. I was so tired and desperate to rest that I would lay you right next to me the moment you would fuss. We BOTH slept like babies. What I didn't consider was how hard of a habit cosleeping would be to break. Several people told me the only way to do it was to let you cry it out. They said it would take about three days, so I listened.
I wish I hadn't.
They were right about the three days, but I still get a choked up thinking about sitting outside your bedroom and crying while you cried. I wanted to run in there so many times, but I didn't. And to this day, you — now 9 years old — sleep much more peacefully with me laying next to you. I feel like it's because of the way I tried to break you of the habit. I regret letting you cry it out and making you feel that I wasn't there to scoop you up and cuddle you. I know it works for some, but it wasn't and isn't for me... or you.
These small (but crucial) examples taught me more about motherhood than almost anything else. They helped me realise that for the rest of my life, no matter what I choose to do with you and your sister, everyone is going to have an opinion. I learned to take it all in stride and do what feels right for MY kids. These experiences also greatly shaped how I give advice to other mummies. First and foremost, I don't dole out unsolicited advice. And if someone asks for my opinion, I'm very careful to say that it's what worked for me vs. treating it like gospel.
I'm sorry if my tactics messed with your sleeping and eating. I just didn't know enough and thought it was too reckless to trust my gut. Let this be a lesson to both of us that mistakes happen. All we can do is learn from them and do better the next time. And I promise you that for the rest of your life, I will always try to do better.
This article was first published on PopSugar.com.au.