How do you recover when something you read or watch or hear knocks down your confidence as a parent, especially when your baby is little?
I've been thinking about this since I found out that a friend is feeling like she's doing things wrong and has lost her nerve ever since she read a Very Famous Sleep Book. I'm not going to say which one, since any of the sleep books can make you feel inadequate and incompetent if the book doesn't happen to correspond to what your child needs*. Any book that's more about pushing the author's agenda than it is about helping you track and pay attention to your own child has the potential to make you feel pretty worthless.
Unsolicited advice: Don't read any sleep books while your child is in the 4-month sleep regression. Please. If you want to read a book during this crucible of a time, read The Wonder Weeks, which will explain why the 4-month sleep regression happens and how it's totally not your fault. Or read the comments in any one of my posts about the 4-month sleep regression and feel the collective exhaustion of the universe of parents of 4-month-olds.
But now back to the topic of getting your confidence back. I kept my confidence because of my mom. I'd call her and she'd tell me I was doing ok and it would all be ok. I believed her because a) she'd always told me the truth, even when it hurt, and b) she'd let me see that parenting wasn't always easy for her but that it was worth it, so I knew she knew how hard it was and wasn't taking my asking for help lightly.
(This makes me feel better even now. Because I know that no matter what else, I tell my kids the truth. And they certainly see that I actively work at parenting well and sometimes fail. That's not just about their development now, it turns out, but also about being able to be there for them when they need me as adults. This is something that we can all do, is tell our kids the truth and let them see that we're real people working on things. And it's way easier than faking it.)
(My mom says she knew I would be ok when I stopped calling her three times a day and got down to twice a day.)
If you do not have a mom like mine to call, let me tell it to you here and now:
You are doing a great job. Not just an ok job, but a great job. You're making the right decisions, and when something doesn't work you're regrouping and figuring out why and trying something else. You're paying attention to your baby, and your baby is lucky to be yours. You're the best parent for your child.
I wish I could give you a few minutes to see it in hindsight, so that you'd know that three years from now you won't even remember whatever** it was that's making you feel so defeated today. That your child is turning into the person they're supposed to be. That a bad feeding or a bad naptime or six months in a row of waking up too many times at night hasn't impeded their emotional development one bit. That your child is going to start hugging you more and crying less. That you're doing really, really well at this.
Who's got something to say?
* I've been pissed about this for almost seven years now–it was the topic of my very first post ever.
** I initially typo'd this as "shatever." Hahahahaha. Truth.