Hi Be Well,
I hear ya! Parenting is a whole new world to most of us, which is shocking.
I have 3 girls, ranging in age from 2 yrs to 8 yrs. And recently I started reading a new book, "Under Pressure" and it is such a good description of parenting now adays. I had not ever thought about the "history of childhood", apparently it is its own discipline in university now! Anyhow, the book goes through how children were treated in history, and what the generation turned out to believe. It was quite fascinating (to me anyways!) and he says that this is the first generation (being you and I) that values our children as if they are the hottest comodity we have to offer to society, our heritage, our world. They are the hope for change. They are the ones who will change things to make it better. Sound familiar? It sure does to me.
So, is it any wonder that we're overwhelmed with this responsibility? Not until Spock in the 60's was it?, was parenting a thing to be read about. It is only recently that parents have been taught how to look after their children. And I don't know about you, but I've been told by a lot of sources about 300 ways to raise EACH of my girls. Be strict, teach self-discipline. If you're strict, they won't develop their own self-discipline.
Oh! And another thing that gets me, that we have to MODEL to our children how to do it right. So not only do THEY have to have the best upbringing, circumstances, feelings, behaviors, education, and experience, we have to MODEL that! Yikes. I think I feel an ulcer coming just writing this!
And you know what? In Under Pressure, the author goes on to say that all this coddling and 'helicopter' parenting is going to create insecure, flat-thinking, dependent people. Unable to take risks, make decisions, or think for themselves. Yikes. So, I'm taking some of his suggestions and relaxing a bit in some of my parenting methods.
For infants, I think we need to relax a lot too. If baby needs a cuddle, then cuddle. If baby needs to nurse, then nurse. Common sense will guide you, unless you are suffering from Post Partum depression - that is a different story altogether. I had one baby who was loud, and ate all the time, I TRIED to put her on a schedule for my own sanity but it didn't work very well. Somewhat okay, but still.... For my first child, she put herself on her own schedule, eating every 4 hours, waking for 1/2 an hour, and sleeping the rest. She observed everything and needed stimuli to be kept at a minimum. Babies have lots to learn in the womb from your beating heart, and sensations and noises. After birth, they have to learn so much. They just need to be close to mommy, and to be loved. For the mommy though, she needs to recover, and that is when support and the village comes in handy. And a nursing mom needs good nutrition and rest, so again - mommies need help. In other societies (other than the americas & europe), women are put to bed for anywhere from 6 weeks to 3 months after child birth. No cooking, bathing the infant. In Korea, women don't bathe at all in teh first several weeks after childbirth. They are to sleep and rest. Nurse the baby, and let Grandma look after baby after that. Doesn't that sound wonderful?
Sometimes, we just need to give ourselves credit for birthing the thing! \
So, yes, you are definitely NOT alone! Parenting can be quite the journey!
All the best,