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Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and other good advice

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When my first child was born, a well intentioned relative couldn’t wait to recommend her favorite babysitters to me upon my arrival home from the hospital. To this day, I vividly recollect that the last thing, the very last thing, that was on my mind was to leave them with a babysitter.

I had that fierce “throw yourself in front of a Mack truck” reaction to any perceived threat to my littles’ well-being, including that I couldn’t tolerate their crying for a minute.

I did suffer post partum depression and severe anxiety in the weeks following my children’s births, but what calmed my frazzled soul above all things was the satisfaction of rocking my contented newborns, sharing those moments with my husband, and of course, achieving any kind of unfragmented sleep.

These days, I foolishly throw sleep away to read just a little too late or allow the dogs and cats to sleep with me.

Another well-intentioned relative suggested to let them be while I was challenged with colicky babies.  “In her day,” she’d said, “you just put them in the playpen and let them cry it out.”  She also brought piles of newspapers and magazines to read while she would offer to sit with the babies.  I couldn’t imagine how she would get all that reading in while she was there to spend time watching my cherubs.  I lived there with them and hadn’t been able to read the daily mail for a week!

I find a fair amount of time for my own pursuits now, including reading, and happily set them aside when my grown kids and I have a chance to talk together.

Through the years, I caught a lot of flack for carrying my children too long (“You won’t want to hold that kid all day when he’s a 5-year-old!”) or for letting them play with my apron strings while I was cooking.  Literally, Sarah Jane would tie herself to my apron strings and hold onto my legs in the kitchen while Char was in my arms, on my hip, and Jody would be on a chair or stool helping to measure, chop or cook something up with me.

It’s especially nice, now, that Char offers to cook every Friday night, Jody can bake the most amazing chocolate cake you’ll ever taste, and Sarah Jane sews up incredibly detailed aprons like nobody’s business.

I also experienced hurt feelings when more well-intentioned friends criticized my home-schooling decision.  There were a few years when parents of my kids’ friends had been in and out of my home for birthday parties, sleepovers, car-pools, tea and dinners.  When we made the leap into homeschooling from a couple of years of local public school, those same friends just fell out of our lives.  There were many times when we were asked, “Are you sure this was a good idea?”

Needless to say, 10 years at home did not ruin their lives.

One doesn’t want to spend too much time analyzing these periods of growth and life.  It doesn’t change things.  I have learned and continue to learn so much from every decision made in rearing my children.

And could I have done things differently? You betcha.  You sit there with a brand new life in your arms and realize the responsibility you have and do your best.  I believe humans are inherently good and I also believe that the role of parenting is an opportunity to better yourself.

In so many ways I have improved mine and other’s lives because I’ve had this opportunity.

I’m not nearly finished and pray I never will be.

The kids are alright – April 2009

The post Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and other good advice appeared first on Wing and A Prayer Farm.

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