An Open Letter To The Stranger Who Told Me Not To Rock My Baby
You don't realise how self-righteous the world of parenting is until your thrown into it. Everyone has an opinion, absolutely everyone, and some voice them louder than others. I voice my own pretty darn loud through my own blog, but I talk about my child and my experiences with my child only: never will I claim to be an expert, in fact, I don't have a bloody clue what I'm on about it, but I don't think any parent completely does. And for that reason and that reason alone, please don't tell me how to raise my child.
When Harrison was only a few weeks old, I was in a shop, rocking the pram as I stood.
It's a comfort for Harrison, and it's also a comfort for myself. My baby doesn't like being still, he likes to be moving, and I don't have a problem with that, its not difficult to rock a pram back and forth, and if it makes my child comfortable, by all means I'll do it. A man, who I'd never met before, stepped in to physically stop my hand from rocking my pram. He told me I was doing more harm than good, and that if I didn't stop now, my son would never settle whilst still. He didn't say it maliciously, or with intent to make me feel substandard, he said it because he believed that he was correct. He believed that there was one way of parenting and the way he raised his children must be the only way to do. Or at least, that's what I'm telling myself. Either that or he saw a new mum and was eager to knock her down a few pegs, just for fun. I'll hope for his kids sake it's the former. He then noticed the dummy attached to Harrisons jacket, and then honed in on that. In his humble opinion, if I had never given him it in the first place, then he wouldn't be using it now, and wouldn't have to experience it being taken off him in the future. Once again, I was causing my child more harm than good, and he managed to make me feel like I was a school child, reprimanded for doing something incorrect.
Had it been someone else, someone older, someone more confident, someone who knew themselves that what they were doing was correct, it may not have had any affect. He would have been told to get on his bike and pedal, and that would have been the end of it. For me, it hit home. On that day, I'd ventured out with Harrison for one of the first times entirely by myself. I was nervous, I was anxious, and I felt like everybody was looking at the girl who didn't have a clue what she was doing. I was rocking his pram for his comfort, yes, but I was also rocking it for my own. Moving that pram gave me a purpose in that shop, subconsciously, if I was rocking the pram and engaged with my completey unconscious baby, then I'd look like a good mother. It wasn't about being a good mother, it was about feeling like one, and a few side comments was enough to knock me right down. He couldn't have known that my confidence level was at 0, or that my anxiety was through the roof, and that comments like that were never going to be received well, but he should never have made them in the first place. I'm the parent. He is my child, and if I want to rock his pram, I'll rock his pram. I don't deserve to be forced into a Dummy Debate in the middle of The Entertainer because your bored of Christmas Shopping and eager to impart your opinion on me. Emphasis on the word opinion. There's nothing to say I'm damaging my child by moving his pram, even less so to say I'm hurting him by attaching a dummy to his jacket (had you known my child at all you would know he doesn't take a dummy at all, it was clipped to his jacket from a previous outing, he can't take one unless it's being held in place). You proceeded to then make a ridiculous clicking noise (if I do say so myself), and claimed this was the way to settle a baby, and at the time, I kicked myself for not being aware of the noise. Now, I kick myself for even taking on board a single comment this stranger made. That clicking noise is worth nothing unless your baby likes it. In case he hadn't noticed, my baby isn't his, so he can take his clicking noise and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.
I wish I could say I didn't take what he said to heart - I should have gone home that day proud of myself for getting over my own anxiety at leaving the house after having a baby, instead, I was left feeling down at the fact that a stranger noticed that I was 'doing parenting wrong'. Once again, I was in a slump, and it was part and parcel down to a stranger with too much to say. I'm not wrong, my method may not have worked with your child sure, but it's a damn good thing I'm not parenting your child then, I'm doing what is right for Harrison, and Harrison likes to be moving. If your telling me that at 4 weeks old I'm wrong for doing whatever I can to make my baby more content, then I don't want to hear it. I'm just frustrated I didn't realise that there and then.
There is way too much emphasis these days on what is right and wrong in parenting - whether that be coming from the NHS, from friends, from family, or from strangers that approach you in a toy shop. Everyone has their own way of parenting, and the debates are rife. If you want a debate, by all means your free to google, I'm sure you'll have be more than entertained by the online keyboard gangsters and their opinions on Breast Feeding, Co-Sleeping, Weaning, Baby Wearing... You name it, someone is claiming they know 'the way'. I'm not claiming to know any way, but I am claiming to know my child. I've been told countless times how to parent my child, and whilst advice is appreciated, I'm taking everything with a pinch of salt. We all like to act like we know what we're doing, but in reality, no one does. Every child is completely different, and what works for your child is not a guarantee to work for mine. Please don't tell me how to raise my child, and for god sake, don't tell me not to rock my baby.