[ P circa two months ago has way less hair and those pants totally are high-waters now, but what remains true is that he’s not reading any books on proper crawling technique because he’s totally got this. ]
I wrote before on how I read a book on mindful parenting because… I don’t know? Someone? Recommended it to me? Seemed a good idea at the time? And really, I still have no clue.
Prior to that, I tried to read The Happiest Toddler on the Block – which I won’t even link to because you shouldn’t read it. I LOVED Happiest Baby. Loved it. Would recommend it to every pregnant lady. Hell, I’d buy it for every pregnant friend if it didn’t seem like a weird/preachy thing to do. Amazing book and while it was not the panacea that it claimed to be – it did offer a lot of helpful information for a stage in life that I was totally clueless about. So, with that in mind I thought “Dr. Karp must have good insight into toddlerhood.”
I gave the book a chance, really I did. His whole outline seemed like it was a list of Really Bad Ideas, but I thought, he’s a doctor! He wrote a book that was really helpful! Surely, I just don’t understand! So, I kept reading. And about a third of the way through, I realized something very important…
This is bullshit.
I’ve worked with kids my entire adult life. I was a coach’s assistant for the younger kids on swim team from the time I was fourteen. I had my first summertime babysitting gig at 16. First full time nanny job at 18. Taught preschool for two years for kids between the ages of 18mos and 5yrs. Nannied full time for nearly three years after that. The newborn phase was new to me – the youngest kid I’ve worked with was 9mos old – but the toddler phase? I’ve been knee-deep in toddlers for the better part of a decade. I know from toddlers.
Why didn’t I trust my own instincts? Why, when the book initially rang false to me, did I think “well – this guy MUST know better, he’s an EXPERT.” Why didn’t I realize that this is something about which I am sort of an expert?
Same goes for the book on Mindful Parenting. I was raised as a Buddhist kid. I’m following a lot of the same practices that my own mother followed. Why did I think that I wasn’t doing enough – that I needed more guidance? Why did I think that this book must have some secret I wasn’t in on? Why didn’t I realize that I’ve got this.
As parents – and especially first time parents – we’re told by the media at large to second guess ourselves. Blogs (my own included) are constantly heralding the first-timer mistakes. Oh, how naive we all are! Oh, how many ways to do it wrong! We’re told over and over again – it’s ok, no one really knows what they’re doing by blogs and OH HEY YOU’RE TOTALLY DOING IT WRONG AND YOU SHOULD BE WORRIED by the media. It leads to a crisis of confidence that I see all the time among parent-friends: How should I do this? Is it ok to do that? What do I do about this other thing? And I want to just sometimes say “It’s ok. It’s your kid. Just do SOMETHING. You have permission.”
And so, at the risk of being totally cocky, I’m gonna put it right out there that for right now – this phase, this moment – I’ve got this. I’ve seen this. I know what toddlerhood looks like. I know my son. I know our rhythms. We have ups and downs and I’m figuring it out and I’m figuring it out just fine. I love feedback and I love other people’s ideas and I love having resources to check in with when I have questions. But I am not adrift. I am grounded and I am competent and if an “expert” sounds wrong to me… it’s not because I don’t understand what they’re talking about, it’s because I’ve spent years “in the shit” and I’ve developed my own body of knowledge.
I’m putting this out there because I think that it’s toxic to be constantly second guessing yourself and the culture of parenthood that is going on right now is encouraging just that. I don’t know everything about kids or childhood or parenting, but I know enough to know that I can figure this out as we go and if not? I know where to go for help and it’s all of the brilliant and wonderful mamas that I know, not the latest thing to fear from HuffPo or the latest book on what tone of voice toddlers like best.