I had a flashback today. I’m not sure why. It was just one of those random memories that pops into your head every now and then, but I thought I’d share with any of my fellow mom’s who have younger children who are struggling.
When my son was at that stage where he was starting to give up the afternoon nap, but he wasn’t quite ready (and, quite frankly, neither was I), I think he must have been around 2 or so. That was over 10 years ago, so I’d have to look it up in the baby book to be sure, but I think that should be pretty close.
Anyways, my daughter was in first grade or so, and I had to pick her up everyday from school at 2:15…RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF NAP TIME FOR MY SON.
So, daily, I would fight with him to get him to nap right after lunch time, so that he would be up in time to go get my daughter. He wasn’t a willing participant in this schedule at all. In fact, most days, I would try to let him cry it out, only to have him fuss right through his nap time, making it too late to go down. The result? A cranky two-year-old who would fuss until dinner, then try to fight his way through bath time, now over-tired, until he’d finally crash, only to be up at the crack of dawn to start all over the next day.
Why not just skip the nap, you say? Then he would sleep in later the next morning, right? Well, logic would dictate that scenario, but my son was a strong-willed baby, and would still be up at the crack of dawn no matter how late I kept him up the night before. He’s still an early-riser to this day.
About this same time, he had mastered the public temper-tantrum, complete with arching his back, as I tried to buckle him into the stroller or car seat, which brings me to my topic.
One morning, while out with friends for coffee, one of my friends decided that she would “help me” (or rather, teach me, in full humiliating Super Nanny style) how to handle my unruly child. She’d taken a Child Development Course after all, so she figured she would be able to convince him that she was right.
She proceeded to buckle him into the stroller, and we made it to the car. I must admit that watching her try to “reason” him into the car seat was rather amusing, even though I was doing everything I could to restrain my motherly pride.
When we got home, she took the car seat out of the car, with my son still buckled into it, and brought him into the house, still buckled, and continued to “reason” with him before she would unbuckle him. Her goal was to get him to take the nap he so needed, that I had not been able to accomplish successfully. It took everything I had in me, to humble myself, and try to learn something from the situation. But a part of me was insulted, and the help was not wanted. Still, she was my friend, and meant well. So, I let the demonstration continue.
She finally got him calmed down enough to let him out of the car seat, then proceeded to put him in his crib to take his nap, while I stayed in the living room and let her “handle him.” Again, feeling wounded and prideful, I sucked it up.
She spent the next TWO HOURS going in and out of my son’s room, speaking to him in a low voice, and trying to convince him that he needed to take a nap. As I sat there in the other room, all I could think was, “Son, you’d better not go to sleep for her! Please, let me keep my dignity.”
And, do you know, that my son NEVER did go to sleep or calm down for her that day. He never gave in to her “child development training.” He made me proud that day. I know it’s wrong for me to say, but sometimes, especially in the early years, when you are doing your very best to hold it together amid a screaming toddler’s tantrum, the last thing you want is for someone else to come in and do it better than you. Admit it…it’s true. AND THAT’S OKAY.
The point of my story?
For any of you mothers of young children, especially if they’re going through the “Terrible Two’s,” or “Colicky Sleepless Nights,” or “Teething,” or any of the other myriad of baby unknowns, sometimes doing the best you can do IS the best you can do. And not all advice is wanted, or even good, advice. What works for one child will NOT work for the next, no matter what the books say. Sometimes we need to realize, our babies didn’t read the books. They are fumbling through it too.
Keep doing what you’re doing. There is another side. It does get better. Sometimes it just takes time…and prayer. And it never hurts to pray.
By the way, my friend and I can laugh about that moment now. Especially now that she has two children as well. Have you ever gotten unwanted parenting advice? I’d love to hear your stories.