was the beginning of my realization that I didn’t know as much about parenting as I thought I did.
Eight years ago today, my son was born.
Before Caleb came along, we had two little girls. I had read the parenting books and taken a class. So, really, I knew what I was doing.
The girls naturally settled right into the schedule. Right away, they slept, woke, ate, and played when they were supposed to. It took Lauren a while to learn to go to sleep on her own, but after the first couple months, she was with the program.
By the time she was a toddler and Rachel was an infant, I had coordinated Lauren’s nap with one of Rachel’s. We were a model family for the book and the system. I was, very nearly, a perfect parent.
Obviously, you can hear the sarcasm. I knew I wasn’t perfect, but I did think the system was THE right way to parent. And I thought that all those problems other parents had were because they weren’t following the system. I had two children under age two, and I had found THE parenting philosophy and style. It would be smooth-sailing from then on out! Lucky me!
Then Caleb came along. He LOVED to nurse. He loved to cluster-feed. He loved to cat-nap. He loved to be held. When I tried to force him into the plan, into my schedule, he was a miserable baby. Finally, I decided to get a sling and hold him a lot and let him cat-nap and cluster-feed. It was like a deep sigh of relief — from him and me! He was a very happy baby.
Hmmmmm. Maybe THE system wasn’t the system for every baby. Seriously, I know you’re all laughing, but it was a huge lightbulb moment for me to realize that all babies are not the same and cannot be parented the same.
Remember yesterday’s quote? “The only time you relate the same way to any two people is if the relationship is shallow.”
Caleb taught me that I would have to relate differently to my very-different children. Caleb taught me that there is no one right way to parent. He taught me that every baby does not need to eat, sleep, and play at the same frequency and duration. Caleb taught me to listen to my children, to watch them, and to learn their needs and to nurture each of them individually.
(Around this same time, Lauren turned 3 and realized she had a will of her own. Suddenly, the toddler parenting plan wasn’t panning out so well with her either! Boy, it was tough to learn I didn’t know anything about parenting after all!)
Baby Caleb taught me to be more flexible, to relax, and to enjoy my babies more. Baby Caleb looked so cute in his sling!
And this boy continues to challenge us. Not in a bad way. He is just the outside-the-box kid.
The system or the usual way of doing things does not work for him. He’s a delight and a joy. A climber, a prankster, a sensitive soul. He’s a thinker and a hugger. He loves LEGOS and K’Nex and Star Wars. He loves laughing to Looney Toons and The Three Stooges. He’s the kid whose drawings always have a wonderfully-detailed back-story. And because he doesn’t fit the mold, he has no idea how wonderful his uniqueness is or how very intelligent he really is.
Happy 8th Birthday, my Red-Headed Monkey Boy!