It just is.

BRONTEI just got back from taking the dog to the pet shop for a wash. Bronte is excitable. She does this thing where she doesn’t just wag her tail when she’s happy/excited/elated, her WHOLE body wags. If I was standing in front of you telling this story, I’d re-enact it, because I think I do it well. Having said that, I’ve never looked in the mirror whilst re-enacting the whole body wag… so it could very well be embarrassing and ugly. But you get what I mean…She also likes to hug other dogs. She’ll jump up and try and embrace their head. The neighbourhood dogs are used to it, and a few will just roll with it. One even hugs back. Today at the pet shop there was a dog the same age as her. He was a well-groomed poodle. Of course Bronte did the whole body wag, and the cuddle and threw in a jump for good measure, all the while Mr. Well-Groomed Poodle remained calm and poised. Ah, we were those parents. The one with the dog out of control. We’ve been there before, with the not-so-perfect child. It’s not new territory for us.

We sat around the table talking about children. I started to talk about the topic that I always seem to talk about; sleep. Or the lack of it. “I’ll do things different with this new baby,” I promised, not quite sure who I was making the promise to. “You know, I really did it all wrong. It’s all my fault.”

For those that don’t know, Lacey didn’t sleep very well and never has. She was an unsettled baby who screamed for the first 24 hours after birth, and then pretty much every day of that first 6 months. It was torturous. And she hated sleep. She slept in 40 minute stints, even at night, only to be put back to sleep with a breastfeed and 15 minutes of us rocking her in front of the tumble dryer. It was constant, and hard, and exhausting. We were shadows of our real selves.

“Who decides what’s wrong?” my friend piped up, “What if she was just an anomaly? Who are you measuring yourself against anyway?”

A light bulb went off in my head. What if it just was? What if it wasn’t all my doing? I’ve blamed myself all this time. You know, the regular spiel; I went back to work too early, I didn’t read enough books, I made the wrong choices, I was a nanny for 12 years I should have done/known better, and I didn’t try hard enough. But oh how I tried. I tried so hard to make things right, and it just didn’t work. And as for who I was measuring myself against? I wasn’t comparing myself to anyone, because parenting is an individual journey, but I’d be lying if I said that seeing everyone else getting sleep and having happy babies didn’t make me think that I failed. Big time.

I could have cried in that moment, and hugged my friend a million times over. If only we weren’t separated by an awkward booth table which my baby belly was finding difficult to navigate.

I’ve always thought, particularly after that tiresome first year, that Lacey was my practice run baby and that I’d score an A+ with the next little person that came into our lives. Even writing that makes me realise how ridiculously my mind works. RE-DONK-U-LOUS even.

I’ve thought about all the things I’ll change with this next baby. I won’t hold it as much. It will never fall asleep in my arms. And I’ll follow those sleep books to a T. In fact, I’ve already started reading them. I was gunning for that A+. But then when I pondered what my friend had said, those simple questions that made me have a little epiphany, I realise they were the things I loved best about those early days, why would I deny myself that? Oh, and deny my sweet little baby that too?

And when it comes to behaviour, our little girl is filled with sass. “You know Mama, last week I said a square word,” she bragged. “Do you mean a swear word?” I queried. “Nope, a square word,” she insisted. Of course I let her know that we don’t say naughty words, followed by a whole spiel about other words we could use {all the while laughing inside at ‘square’ word}. She’s filled with confidence, and bravado. She’s nothing like I was. I’d hide behind my Ma’s legs before talking to anyone, where Lacey will shake hands and introduce herself before I’ve had a chance to do the same.

She’s not afraid of a tantrum, thankfully they’re usually at home or just as we’re leaving somewhere that she wants to stay and play at. Sometimes she’s just plain sassy, and not in a good way. Sometimes I wonder what I did wrong, what I’d do differently if I had my time again. You know; regret, remorse and guilt.

But since that conversation with my friend I’ve had a revelation, what if it just is? What if it just is what it is? Man, acceptance is a wonderful thing. Of course, I want to be the best parent I can be, and for my girl to be the best person she can be too… but if I offload some of that guilt and over-thinking which I’ve been carrying around for a while, life is just a little bit easier. Parenting while wearing a big coat of resistance and self-blame ain’t so pretty.

And as I left the pet store with my out of control dog, I thought about it again. It is what it is. And I smiled, because I’m glad that I’ve got the dog who is so happy that her whole body wags, and the daughter who has so much sass she loves who she is and isn’t afraid to show it. It is what it is, and it’s kinda wonderful.

26 thoughts on “It just is.”

  1. Hold onto that friend and never let her go!
    Ive got a little girl who turned one last week.
    She still sleeps a max of two hours at a time. Longer than that I stress she’s dead.
    It started as 20 mins only in my arms every hour. Then 45 mins every 2 hours.
    Now it’s 1 hr on my chest in our bed twice a day. I breast feed her back to sleep at night. I have not had more than 2 hrs sleep in a year.
    Everyone thinks I’ve broken her. My family. My friends. My partner. Even myself sometimes.
    But I’ve done what I had to to survive. Survival parenting I call it.
    I too think ill do things differently with the next one. But really what I’ll do is whatever I have to do to survive with two kids.
    I’ve thrown away the books and just do what I feel is right.
    Thank you for sharing this story. You are not alone.

    • You haven’t broken anything. All you’ve taught her is that you are there for her 100%!
      My son was the same, and eventually he just grew out of it. He has his day sleep in his own bed now, and only wakes once a night for a cuddle with us.
      It’s ok. You are doing a wonderful job!

      • Thanks Sara.
        She us such a happy well adjusted little girl I can’t fathom why people say I ruined her!
        Some people just don’t have the same idea of 100% I guess.
        I love being her mummy

        • I like the term survival parenting. 🙂
          My boy was a horrible sleeper, I had him in our bed with us for almost 4 years and I promise, now that he’s 17 he sleeps just fine! haha…seriously.

          I bet your little is perfect.

  2. Chantelle, oh to have my kids little again. I often think there is so much i would change, but do you know what?

    The best advice i can ever give you is similar to what your friend said.

    And that is…”Whatever YOU do, is right!

    Good luck and lots of hugsxxxx

  3. oh hold onto the baby and cuddle and cuddle and cuddle – this brought a tear to my eye, if there is one thing I could do and turn back the clock it would be cuddle and snuggle and breathe in my babies all over again… xoxox


    p.s.keep the friend

  4. Far out, this could be written about me and my family! We have a pure bred crazy lad and a crazy lab crossed and the insomniac child and the wild one. Life is never dull!

  5. I have 2 spirited children and a dog who wags her whole body as well (although she’s positively CALM compared to our old dog!). They keep life interesting and I wouldn’t change any of the crazy, chaotic mess (most of the time…).

  6. Bah humbug is what I say to all of those ‘experts’. I have 3 children – all mid to late teens now but when my youngest came along (her name is Bronte!) I had 3 under 4 for a little while. I had the first two (boys) 14 months apart. The first TWO years were a blur and we just did what worked for us. That;s what you should do too. That’s my big advice. Do what works best for your family. A happy mummy means a happy family. I love your friend – she is so right. Each baby/child is so very different. Even now, as mine are young adults – all raised the same way but all so very different. What will work for one, won’t work for the next. What works this week, won’t work next week – ‘oh but you love beans’ “not any more” and then on to the next thing.

    However, – my dog is perfect! ha ha ha

  7. I think your girl and mine would get along so well! All the confidence and spirit in the world. Love it. x

  8. I’ve done my absolute best, and I have one child who is Bipolar and 2 who are Autistic. Another of my kids didn’t sleep longer that 20 mins at a time for his first 6 months. It is what it is! Follow your heart, or your gut…. whatever! Do your parenting your own way. All the very best as you start over with this next baby, and don’t be afraid to make it up as you go 🙂

  9. I am learning this too at the moment. If you get a chance to read Buddhism for Mothers do it!! I have a light bulb moment on every page. It makes so much sense and makes for a much more peaceful mind xxxx

  10. Is that a German Shorthaired Pointer? We have a GSP and she does exactly what you’re describing! I think it looks like she can’t decide which foot to stand on.

    I’m 6 months pregnant with my first child and I’m convinced that she/he is going to be absolutely perfect and respond miraculously to all the parenting ideas I’ve taken on – thanks for giving me a reality check! But I am convinced people get the children they can cope with, Lacey is lucky to have you, I hope people will say the same of my children.

  11. Haha,, I think children are born with a personality. The first child is a shocking, demanding, and sometimes scary little bundle of love and energy and life in overwhelming proportions; especially for a new parent with no clue of what to expect. I think kids are sort of a reflection of where you are in life, at the time. Sometimes they are planned, sometimes a surprise. I care for my 3 grandchildren, 2 boys and a girl. The oldest(boy) can pick up a phone with whom ever I am talking, and carry on a conversation, whether he knows them or not. The second will sit there listening and shake his head, and never say a word unless he is prodded. The girl, will grab the phone and walk away with it, and gab and gab, at 16 months. She was supposed to be our sweet little sugar and spice and everything nice, like the boys. The boys never climbed up on the table and threatened to jump, she bops the boys and takes their toys and runs, and leaves them whining and yelling, “Nene!” Oh she is loving, and sweet, too, and a little Diva about clothes and shoes and hair. One minute a little angel, the next a little devil child. And she will try to say everything, and do everything she sees or hears.Each of them has their own distinguished personality,which I love. Each was born at a different time and you can see how the different stages of life the parents and grand parents are in can influence how each child reacts and develops. One thing for sure, it is never boring! And it is what it is!

  12. Well said! Well said! I have a dog and a daughter who are just the same as you’ve described. Honestly, they make me happy (most of the time:)

  13. The conversation (debate!) around babies/kids & sleep was worn thin in my mothers group by about six months. I stopped listening because it seemed to me that you do what you do & leave it at that. Personally I’ve been semi-co-sleeping for 3.5 years & will do the same with the next bub who is due late this year.
    Some see this as fine & some see it as out of the question… But it’s only how others see it & that’s all there is to it. My choices as a parent aren’t governed by outside perceptions!
    As a parent the goalposts change all the time so painting oneself into a corner with a static approach to life only adds to the daily grind. Go with the flow – whatever that may be in your home! Xx

  14. Love this. Try to let go of the second guessing and just enjoy your new baby. I found I was (very surprisingly) so much more relaxed with my 2nd baby and I think that helped all of us sooooo much! I did a routine (mostly to help boost my milk supply) that helped with sleep a bit I’m sure, but I think it was the more relaxed approach that helped him feel confident and secure. Two things that you have obviously done with Lacey! So she didn’t sleep well – that must have been very difficult for you, but I love a kid with a bit of sass! It shows they are confident and secure and safe and ready to tackle anything! You’ve obviously done well!!! Soak up all the baby cuddles you want! I found I was so busy with my older child that I found I had a good balance between newborn baby cuddles and leaving him to settle himself. He just fitted in instantly and was a dream. He may have been a freak easy baby…who knows?!?! But it was a vast difference from my first time around of second guessing and lots of tears from baby (and me!!!) Either way, they grow up so fast and become independent soooooo quickly that all we can do is go with the day/week at hand….but we’ll see how I go with #3 in the coming weeks! Eeeek! Hope you’re feeling well and insomnia is settling down too.xoxoxoxo

  15. I meant it, man… some kids are just really shit sleepers. And it isn’t anyone’s fault. This next baby will be different, not from anything you do or don’t do, but because I truly believe Lacey is a rare case.
    Ugh, I hate that you’ve blamed yourself for so long when you did everything you could. It’s so not your fault.
    If you listened to me about that, then hear me now: CUDDLE THAT BABY. Let it sleep in your arms. Breastfeed it to sleep. If that brings you joy and it feels right, then bloody well do it. If it turns out that creates a problem then change. But don’t be afraid because of what has gone on before. Please!

  16. Each kid is so different. My first was a great sleeper, eater etc. and I was the mom who had her on a strict schedule and never deviated from it. With my second, the schedule had to be more flexible since I was chasing the first one around. Is that the reason he is not a good sleeper or eater? I don’t know. BUT, I do know that I spend way more time snuggling with him and babying him than my first. I was so focused on my first being “perfect” that I missed some of the beautiful things that come with imperfection.

  17. This is really beautiful and really helpful today after a shopping trip full of “my my she IS busy” comments and the looks.

    She just is may just get me through the next outing.

  18. I have such a hard time when people talk about parenting. It’s so personal to the parents and the child that you really can’t compare. You can talk, see what might have worked for one but there is no full proof plan. Following “the books” just doesn’t sound like fun, and really, do we want cookie cutter children? No, I think not.

    I have a boy, ready to graduate from high school. He was a poor sleeper, he threw tantrums, he smiled and hugged…but mostly he was mine, he was himself. We parented with love, not methods.

    I try not to engage in parenting talk with my friends (some who are just now having littles) because I get a little worked up. 🙂

    Just love. Enjoy.

  19. Don’t you dare feel any guilt about cuddling that new born baby or letting it fall asleep in your arms..those first few months are so amazing and I loved every cuddle I had with mason even at 2.00 in the morning. So many people and even Mark said don’t pick him up as soon as he cries, stop rocking him to sleep and I must admit I had a the thought that maybe I was doing this wrong but that feeling faded quickly. It felt right to me to cuddle my baby and feed him during the night whenever he wanted it. I keep saying I’ll know when it’s ok to let him cry and when I’m comfortable to not feed him in the middle of the night and around 6 months I stopped rocking/cuddling to sleep and started just putting him in his bed. Around 8 months I started just letting him cry abit when he woke or went to bed and not long after that he started sleeping throught the night. We still have the odd night where he wakes and wants a feed but generally he is great. My point of all of this is I did what I felt right doing as a mum regardless of what everyone said and regardless of what the books say. I of course wanted a good sleeper but it didn’t feel right to do it too soon however as a nanny I knew I couldn’t leave it till he was too old. So go with your gut feeling and a little bit of nanny sense thrown in and hope for the best.and enjoy enjoy enjoy!!! new born born babies are by far the most amazing things in the world so make the most of it. You will be a fab mum to this bubba just like you are to Lacey.

  20. We’ve just spent a week in Far North Qld with my daughters Great Grandmother. She was known as Wild Betty as a child – I believe this is a genetic trait that we are very proud of. Miss 5 will never be meek and she will be a very fine strong 22 y.o women. Until then she will delight and trouble us but it just is!

  21. How can you want to change what you did with Lacey? you have created an amazing child. Some babies just don’t sleep well. I did the exact same thing with my two and the eldest slept where ever and when ever. Still does. Youngest, hmmm well he is currently in my arms having a morning nap. Yes this should give you a hint. Second child will only sleep on me.
    Don’t change what you did cause that changes who you are

  22. I can tell you absolutely it just is! My three have all had their (different) sleep issues and all three are so different. It had absolutely nothing to do with me.
    I was the same with number 2 & 3 and read every sleep book and it made no difference. It was easier the second and third time round as I knew it wasn’t me.
    I love how I have three such individual spirits.

    I always remember my brother saying that when he had his first child he thought he was the best parent ever, his boy slept abd did all the right things. Then he had number 2 and realised it had nothing to do with his parenting!

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