This is one in a series of guest posts by other bloggers. Read to the end for a longer biographical note on today's guest blogger, Charise from I Thought I Knew Mama. Charise wants people to concentrate on who her baby is instead of what he can do.
Guest post by Charise from I Thought I Knew Mama
When Baby was born, I experienced every cliche a new mama expects to encounter. I was in love; Baby was the apple of my eye; he completed me. Baby was completely perfect to me in every possible way.
When family members and friends met Baby, they seemed to validate his perfection. He was such a good baby, so nice and calm, so beautiful.
We appreciated these compliments, and of course, we agreed with them, but then I started wondering what these comments actually meant. If Baby screamed for seemingly no reason when someone was visiting, would that make him a bad baby? If he fussed, would he be considered not nice?
I began to realize that when it came to discussion about babies, people were most comfortable inserting them into boxes or categories.
This concept was further highlighted for me when I started receiving emails from various sources that explained all of the milestones Baby should be meeting. While these emails were under the guise of providing necessary and important information for a new parent, they began to feel more like warnings.
- If your baby is not doing _________________, contact your health care provider.
Fill in the blank with any of the so-called milestones we've all heard so much about.
Introducing Baby to people sometimes felt like an interview. Everyone seemed to be interested in asking the same questions:
- Does he sleep through the night?
- How wonderful that you're breastfeeding, but does he take a bottle too?
- Does he roll over?
- Is he on a feeding and sleeping schedule?
The list goes on and on.
Now that Baby is ten months old, I have some prepared answers for the milestone questions, but it still bothers me that people want to go through a checklist in order to supposedly get to know Baby.
I wish I could rewrite the baby milestones. I would like people to be interested in what I consider to be Baby's accomplishments:
- Baby is loving and affectionate. (Especially when he wakes to nurse in the middle of the night.)
- Baby is funny and expressive. (If he wants something, he makes it known, and I don't consider him to be fussy, colicky, etc.)
- Baby is curious and interested in the world around him. (Whether he rolls, crawls, or pulls himself up, what I value is his curiosity.)
- Baby eats and sleeps when he needs to. (I trust my baby and my instincts more than a schedule.)
I know that the common compliments and baby milestones all come from a good place. People want to show interest in your child, and milestones can put many parents at ease. Without a parenting manual, a checklist can be comforting for some.
This doesn't stop me from doing my small part to shift the focus onto getting to know the actual child rather than how a child fits into certain boxes with measurable accomplishments. I know Baby will be judged throughout his entire life based upon accomplishments, but for now, if I can make it happen, I want people to see Baby for who he really is rather than how many milestones he has hit.
Charise is the proud wife and mother to a husband and baby who inspire her on a daily basis. A former professional, first in the magazine industry and then as a special education English teacher, Charise is now a stay-at-home mama to her son. She feels so fortunate to currently be living her dream of being both a mama and a writer. Charise does her very best to be a natural, attached parent, and enjoys chronicling her experiences in doing so on her blog. Check out I Thought I Knew Mama for a window into the adventures of stay-at-home mamahood, natural parenting, and green and healthy living.