My sister-in-law and her husband just had their first child a week and a half ago. We saw them last week after mass and we were discussing many important baby issues. Sleeping, pacifiers, bouncy chairs, and nursing. She was telling me how well Mary sleeps in her bouncy chair. So well, that she is only getting up maybe two times at night. She was thrilled that Mary was sleeping so well, but was concerned that she shouldn't start this habit of sleeping in the bouncy chair. I reassured her that it is just fine and for heaven's sakes, "If it works, do it."
I wish I would have had this wisdom before I had children. My mother and grandmother gave me a great piece of advice (that I didn't follow),
"Do NOT read anything!"
I thought that was absurd and a little irresponsible. So, I read everything and made myself so confused about sleeping, pacifiers, bouncy chairs, and nursing. Everybody has a different take. My mom grew up in the school of ONLY put a baby to sleep on his stomach, but now at the HOSPITAL you pretty much have to take an oath that you will NEVER put a baby to sleep on his stomach. A friend invited me to a La Leche League meeting before I had Dominic. I really didn't know what LLL was so I went. The topic at that meeting was why you shouldn't use pacifiers and why you should nurse whenever, wherever. It made sense so I decided to not use pacifiers.
I read that you should never start any habit unless you intend it to be the norm. For example, never co-sleep with your baby because he will never sleep in his own bed. Don't let them fall asleep in the swing because they will get use to the motion. Keep them on a strict schedule or they will always be cranky and unmanageable.
I did all this with Dominic and wished I never had. Dominic (and the rest of my babies) liked to sleep only on their stomach. I remember crying one night when we brought Lillie home from the hospital because she would only sleep well on her stomach. I kept flipping her over on her back and she would wake up immediately and never get into a sound sleep. Once I would flip her over on her belly, she would sleep great. BUT, they told us to never do that. My sister finally said, "Lindsay, God is not going to take your baby because of a certain sleeping position. If He wants her to be in heaven, He will take her regardless." It really helped me although I am still a Nervous Nelly the first couple months with a newborn's sleeping habits.
Dominic needed and wanted a pacifier. I would nurse him and then 15 minutes later he would be fussy. The poor guy just needed a binki. BUT NO, the LLL meeting said that YOU should be the one to comfort him so that is what I did. I think I nursed all over Nebraska and Oklahoma for 12 months. Lesson learned. I now find great delight in picking out their pacifiers! Side note, I have nothing against LLL, but merely trying to state how I was so influenced by the differing opinions.
Dominic was not a good sleeper at first, but developed into a great sleeper. I would nurse him and then put him right back in his bed like the books said because I didn't want him getting use to our bed. I attributed this habit to him becoming a great sleeper. With my next children, they all slept in bed with us off and on for a year and they are all good sleepers. So that theory isn't true.
I thought all of these issues would determine if I was a good mother or a bad mother. I forgot that they weren't moral issues and didn't concern his soul AT ALL. So, my advice to my sister-in-law, "If it works, do it" Let her sleep in her bouncer if she sleeps. Give the baby a pacifier if they want it and you don't mind it. If you and your husband want the baby in your bed and it's working, do it. Sure, you may have habits to break in the future, but I am learning that most habits can be broken when the mother is ready to stick with it and break it.
I told my good friend the other day that I feel like my time with them is like an hour glass and the sand is constantly running and soon it will be out. I feel these years and days going so fast. I think one has to go through the early stages of motherhood to get to the point of being able to relax. We all have to carve out our own path and find what works for us and our family. I pray that I never tell my daughters or daughters-in-law how something should be done. I don't think my way is the right way, just what works for us. I have only learned that recently. I am not saying that the kids should run the household or dictate how things should go. Personally, I am a big fan of the parents being the parent and the kids being the kid. We do have many rules in our home, we work diligently on manners, we have schedules, bedtimes, and routines, they aren't allowed to be sassy to us, they must ask our permission for most things, we demand respect to John and I and also their siblings, I am constantly reminding the girls "to please act like a lady" but I am working on not expecting perfection and we are both works in progress.
When we began homeschooling, I once again adhered to all the rules and regulations I had heard and read for the hundreds of people I consulted. Once again, I should have followed my own instincts and just listened to John. I am now much more relaxed when it comes to our schooling. I am not disturbed when we take days off just to go thrift store shopping. Dominic loves it! He and I did this yesterday and it was pure joy. We went to his favorite store "The Dollar Tree." He had a whole dollar to spend. I let him take all the time he wanted to roam every aisle and decide what to purchase. He went back and forth between blue plastic police men and a water gun. Oh, the decisions! Finally after an hour, he settled on the blue police men. What is beautiful is that he has no idea how I stood and watched him. I "acted" busy, but was truly only there to watch him. I made sure I paid attention to every question and answered them very seriously. You know like, "Mom, Do you think that the police man with the megaphone is the captain?" I would seriously think about my answer and respond appropriately. Vianney and Zellie needed to head home for their naps so I told him we better get going. He came up to me and said, "I hope I wasn't causing you any trouble. I hope it wasn't hard on you to wait for me pick out my toy. I kept watching you and you were smiling so I thought we had enough time."
Little does he know. I reassured him that everything was just fine and it was by no means any trouble. He will never know how sweet his face was. He will never know how time stopped and I looked down at him in awe of his generosity of heart and thoughtfulness of me. He will never know how everyone listening to our conversation was smiling at him. He will never know how my heart was melting when he was talking to me about his concerns and decisions. Thank you, Lord for today. Thank you for homeschooling ME. Thank you for the time spent with him and the girls. Thank you for letting me relax when in the past I would probably have never of gone thrift store hunting because it might disrupt our schedule or be during nap times.
The time with our children is precious and very short lived. I really want to be very selective how I spend my time away from them and with what I am involved in. Just enjoy them, love them, and do your best. Ask our Lord to guide you, tell Him your heart and your worries. The point of this post is that there really aren't any "wrong" decisions when it comes to parenting if your whole goal is their soul. You will not be penalized on judgment day for pacifiers, bouncy chairs, and nursing habits. God sees into your heart. Even if they go down the wrong path, it is all part of HIS big plan and picture from all eternity. Many great saints came from very ugly beginnings. St. Monica was made a saint because of her wayward son, Augustine. I just told a good friend "Our job is to be home forming and to love them. The results are up to God."