As a new mom, and a neurotic one at that, I fretted a great deal about doing "the right things" as a mom. I really felt like if I followed all the rules I would be a great success at this mothering thing. I sort of live my life that way -- follow the rules, do your very best, success will come. That mantra served me well. Until I became a mother. The rules tangled around my head and made me just a touch crazy: Avoid binkies. Don't offer a bottle until you have nursed for at least 3 weeks solid. Never rock your baby to sleep. Never nurse your baby to sleep. Don't let your baby sleep in the swing! Wearing your baby (in a sling) will only make him more dependent on you. OK, that last one cracked me up because 1) Jackson LOVED the sling, and 2) um, he was a baby, he was SUPPOSED to be dependent on me. But I really did try very hard to stick to all the rules, because I wanted to be a good mother. But they really did make me crazy. I was so worried about doing the right things I didn't listen to my instincts. I mean, my instincts have served me pretty well over the years, too, ya know?! Not sure why I let them all fly out the window when honestly, that's when I needed them the most.
Eventually, I suppose, I let a lot of things slide. My boys, neither one, liked the binky, so no problem there. I offered bottles to both of my children in the first few days of life -- Jackson out of sheer frustration about the whole nursing thing, and Holden because I learned from Jackson that the bottle did not interfere with nursing -- and in the end they both were good nursers. I let Holden nap in the swing. I used my sling constantly with both children. I found nursing my babies to sleep calming to mommy and to child. I eventually, trusted those instincts. And you know, each of my boys is vastly different from the other, and yet they had the same mama following the same set of "rules." Go figure.
It has been a long, long time since I rocked my eldest "baby" to sleep. I felt, early on, that I had to avoid that "trap" and trained him to fall asleep on his own. I was super proud of my baby who could put himself to sleep (though it took a long, long time to get to that point); but in looking back I have to wonder what the rush was? Why did it matter? Was I really worried about the idea that I would be rocking a 10 year old to sleep if I didn't wean him from it early on? I suppose I was. Again, I am a rule follower. But with my second I never fought his love of rocking before bed. Sometimes he wanted it / needed it, sometimes he did not. And now, at the ripe old age of 32 months, he still asks for me to rock him before I put him into his bed at night. He snuggles down into my arms, resting his head on my shoulder, and the day melts away into the calm and quiet of that single, lovely moment between me and my babe. And I love it, treasure it, adore it. It is one of my favorite moments of the day. I'm not sure when I'll break him of that habit, but I'm not in any rush to follow that rule.