Hey, you! Yes, you. I know you about to have your first child. And, I think it is great that you have read all those books about how to raise a kid. But, listen. Please. Stop. You actually know NOTHING about what being a parent is really going to be like.
I know what you are about to say. You are about to smugly tell your friend Anna that you are going to feed on a schedule and NEVER feed on demand (as she is feeding her little one on demand). Oh, you are also going to tell her co-sleeping is going to ruin her marriage.
A few short months later, when your child won't sleep or keep any of her food down, you will almost drop her while rocking her to sleep. You will start co-sleeping with her. You will feed on demand. You will "wear" her.
And when this happens, you are going to smugly tell your friends how crying it out is cruel to children and you couldn't imagine doing it. You will blast all books that recommend this sleep method. You will tell everyone that you could only imagine co-sleeping and baby-wearing as a parenting method. You will be proven wrong six years from now when your second child will push you away and reach out for her crib because she will only feel comfortable sleeping by herself.
You will feel guilty, like you are abandoning her. You aren't. Go and enjoy these moments after she is laid in her crib to read to your older child.
In fact, now that I think about it, you will never be as confident of a parent as you are right now. [Please refer to the graph I drew you about your confidence as a parent, below.] Enjoy this moment of sheer ignorance. It will last for the first few months as a sheer coping mechanism because your first child will be colicky and have severe reflux. During those month, please keep checking the stove. You will at some point leave it on in your sleep deprived delirium. Your sister will find it and turn it off, thankfully.
More than anything else, just get off your sanctimonious pedestal. You are a good mom. But so are the moms that choose to parent differently from you. You won't believe this until you have your second child. At that time, you will want to call up all the moms you judged and apologize. It's O.K.. Just remember what your dad used to always say, "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
There will be tough times, especially this past week when your youngest will have to go to the hospital for trouble breathing. But, stop listening to everyone else and listen to what your heart is telling you is right for your kids. A kind pediatrician will tell you when you are sorely sleep-deprived and at one of your lowest moments that you are doing exactly what you need to do for your children. You will find a brief moment of peace.
If anything, this lack of confidence will remove your blinders and allow you to actually make parenting decisions and change your parenting style as needed.
Stop reading articles and posts that blast moms for not parenting one way or the other. In particular, don't read that article about how letting your child cry it out will kill her braincells. It will only make you lose sleep. And stop reading comments by moms that blast each other for the way they parent. Instead, remember that you know nothing about their situation until you have walked a mile in their shoes or spent a month living with their children.
Take time to encourage other moms. Don't give them advice unless they specifically ask you for the advice. They may be struggling and just need encouragement, not your opinion.
Don't listen to unsolicited advice. You will get copious amounts of it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but a friend told me that a friend told her, "Other people's opinions are none of your business." And she is right.
Now, go tell someone she is a good mom. It may be the exact thing she needs to hear to keep herself from breaking down.
A special thanks to the post about judging parents over at My Twice Baked Potato inspiring this post.