It’s only taken me several weeks too many, but I’ve come to the realization that too much information can be a very bad thing. Especially when it comes to parenting.
I had the Heathens in my early twenties, and I had no idea what the hell I was doing. I basically flew by the seat of my pants, and I’m sure I made plenty of mistakes along the way. I fumbled my way through early motherhood, and counted each day a success if everyone ended up fed and in moderately clean clothes.
In retrospect, I feel like I could have avoided certain frustrations if I had only done things differently; for example, maybe I could have bypassed the picky toddler food wars if I had given the boys more table food from the start, and less of the jarred stuff. When all the other moms were structuring their kids’ playtime, I confess I often told my kids to go play and let them be. I wasn’t overly proactive, and if anything, I was really put off by the intensity of the hyper-parents we saw at t-ball practice (in fact, we quit t-ball shortly after watching parents argue about which three year-old was going to play first base). Still, as the boys got older, I wondered if maybe my inexperienced laissez-faire approach to parenting kept my kids from being all they could be. I still fretted, as does any new mom, but I didn’t really know enough about raising kids to worry about half as much as I could have. Little did I know that a modicum of ignorance was actually a good thing.
When I got pregnant with Bean, nearly ten years later, I was oh-so-determined to do things better than I had before. I read, and read and then I read some more. I poured over Dr. Sears books and spent hours on the internet soaking in all of the latest trends that promised to give us the smartest, healthiest, most well-adjusted baby. I was going to be ready this time…hell, I was going to be Supermom. I would be armed with information, do everything right and breeze through Bean’s babyhood with confidence.
You want to know what all that reading really did? It made me neurotic. I spent the first weeks of Bean’s life fretting, and fearing, and plagued with insecurities. I worried I wasn’t holding Bean enough, feeding her enough, or engaging her enough. I feared the smallest misstep would damage the perfect bond that those Dr. Sear’s books claimed we were supposed to have. And dear God, if she was crying, I better be holding her, lest I damage her little psyche with feelings of abandonment. I had to be the perfect parent, even if it came at the expense of my common sense and sanity. Instead of relaxing and trusting my instincts, I was destroying my confidence as a mom with an overload of “expert” parenting advice.
Now that my post-partum insanity is finally waning, I’ve remembered something very important. I raised this guy:
And this one:
And they’ve turned out just fine, if I do say so myself. I did without a pile of parenting books, or endless internet searches. My husband and I did it by being ourselves, and not by trying to follow someone else’s manual for how to raise our kids.
I don’t want to be the mom that is so paralyzed by fear of screwing up her kids that she can’t enjoy their childhood. So, the Dr. Sears books headed to the donation pile and I’m going to spend less time worrying and more time enjoying this: