Whilst lying on a table with my un-mentionables exposed to my beautician, we casually spoke of some similar bed time behaviour we exhibited with our children… the art of lying down with them while they fell asleep. As she oh-so-carefully waxed my bikini line, we spoke of the comfort it brings our children, and how nice it was to meet someone with similar parenting ideals. And it really made me think about BIG PICTURE PARENTING, and more specifically, why people get so hung up on the smaller details of someone else’s life.
Ever since I went back to work… or in Raff’s eyes… STARTED going to work and leaving him, I have been laying down with him at night time. It happened very organically, he was a bit unwell, or we were just having a cuddle, and he said ‘stay Mummy’ so I did, and he went to sleep in a flash. Each night it’s a bit different, but he usually asks me to stay, to lie on the pillow with him, to rub his back, his ear or his hair, or sometimes to sing a song or tell him a story. At first it was a bit of a nuisance, because I would go in and out of the room waiting for him to have enough of me and go to sleep whilst halfway through preparing dinner for the husband and I. Then I realised he just wanted my presence, my comfort. So I stayed. And we both relaxed. And bed time was easy again.
The thing is, I get it. The world has changed a fair bit for Raff lately, Mummy around less, Daddy more, and one day at his Nannie’s, so who am I to deny him the small pleasure of lying down together at the end of the day? He often wants to chat first… even if we have spent the whole day together… it’s like a daily debrief… then he’ll flop his head this way or that way, pull his knees up, throw his dog over his face, yawn and slowly drift off.
So now, I not only accept it, I embrace it. Because this simple 10-minute act of mine makes him feel safe, happy, comforted and loved.
And this is what I want to achieve as a parent. This is the BIG PICTURE. I want my son to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel wanted, to feel needed. To be fed, clothed and stimulated in his daily activities. So does it matter how the specifics look?
It’s so easy to get caught up in them, to obsess over them and compare them. Some people control cry, some don’t. Some people rock their babies, some don’t. Some people breastfeed, some don’t. Does it matter…? NO. As long as you are happy with the big picture you are painting for your child and your family life.
For us, it’s just a few simple things. I just want my child to be a kind, well-adjusted kid, who can feel the happiness in his home. A kid who can see that his parents love each other and him. Who understands the importance of relationships with his family and friends. A kid who eats good wholesome foods most of time. A kid who gets enough sleeps. Does it matter how those exact details look?
As I grown in confidence my role as ‘the mother’ becomes clearer. And my tendency to worry about the teeny tiny details dissipates. Don’t sweat the small stuff they say… so if my child has 10 minutes more screen time than yours, who cares. If he eats dinner at 5, not 530, does it matter? If I lie down with him at bedtime, is it anyone else’s business? No. And that is the beauty of creating your own family; you get to make up the rules based on your values and beliefs. You get to paint the picture.
So go on, be creative with your brush and be your own artist. Don’t just copy others. Confer with your significant other and create an environment for your child to grow and develop in that you are happy with; it doesn’t matter if it’s different from the way you were raised, how your best friend is parenting, or how you hear the kids and parents converse next door. It’s about you. Design your own life.