I just experienced something utterly irksome. Something I vowed I would never allow myself to feel. That little thing otherwise known as Mother's Guilt. The most vile thing about it, is that I'm not sure if I should be feeling guilty or not. Here is what happened...
Last night I read an article about Balinese Parenting in The Mother magazine. The Mother is an alternative natural parenting mag, and I love it. I am inspired by their ways of bringing up kids and it reflects my own beliefs that love and nurture reign high over discipline, authority and making baby abide by my timetable. As such my natural parenting style is to be very hands on, to pick baby up when she cries, to nurse her for comfort, to carry her in a sling, to be with her pretty much constantly for the past five months, to co-sleep, to breastfeed etc. I hadn't questioned my ability to do any of this, and presumed I had.
But then after reading the article on Balinese parenting, and their very hands on approach I began to question whether I had been as hands on as I should have been? The reason I questioned this is because baby rarely nurses for comfort anymore. So have I somehow trained her out of this? What have I done wrong that she doesn't need this anymore?
The worst thing about it is I can't remember what I did or did not do. The past five months are a bit of a blur. I know I always allowed baby to nurse on me to sleep when she wanted to. Occasionally I'd allow Grandma to rock her to sleep in the pram, and I do this alot now. But if she wanted the breast it would still be here for her. I fought a few battles in the early days and I do remember refusing dummies, and I do remember being confident that baby could nurse on me, even if she was there all day. I remember doing my research and being sure that I would happily allow baby to nurse to sleep and take long leisurely naps in my arms. But at the moment she doesn't seem to want it. in fact this is the second time she doesn't want it. A few weeks ago she had stopped nursing for comfort. But then during some developmental changes, she started again. And now, once again, it's stopped. I miss it too. Maybe I am grieving the loss of this little dependence. When I just now put Ivy down for her first nap of the day, she happily babbled herself to sleep. Maybe I have done nothing wrong... Maybe she is just learning to sleep all on her own.
That's the most miraculous thing about babies. I have found that even if you worry about something they are or are not doing, often within a week or so, they change anyway. They grow out of things. They do this on their own, without encouragement from Momma. Given alot of love and a little space they change and alter with the winds, leaving us parents flailing in the dust wondering what went right!
Maybe that is all that has happened here. Somewhere along the lines everything went right. I know many more disciplined parents would be over the moon at such a result! Maybe she doesn't nurse for comfort because she is happy and content and able to get the sleep she needs without being on me. And maybe instead of guilt I should be feeling pleased of my confident little girl, even if that is tinged with a little sadness because I miss her nuzzling to sleep in my arms.
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