Tuesday, April 3, 2012

This is not about Baby Hiccups.

I'm a new mom and I'm thrilled...except...it has been three weeks and my baby still won't hiccup. I've talked to my pediatrician and several baby hiccuping consultants, but nothing seems to work. The moment I got pregnant I started reading about baby hiccuping because I knew it doesn't always happen stress-free. I feel like all the preparation I did was for nothing and I'm not sure what else I should be doing. It just feels so unfair, both to my baby and to me. Hiccuping is natural and I don't want us to miss out. What am I doing wrong?


So, the clever reader may have already deduced what this post is actually about and anyone who has had a uterus tenant and dared to go on a mommy board knows exactly why I've made a substitution. I don't need that bile flooding my defenseless little blog.

More important than my general cowardice is that these feelings are not unique to baby hiccuping, so there is no reason to summon the hellfire and histrionics. Besides, your hiccuping consultants have told you more than I ever could. The problem is that they aren't in control of this endeavor and neither are you.

Parenting is a lifetime sentence of absolute loss of control. Some people think that you lose control when you enter into a relationship. They are wrong. (In fact, that is a whole different blog topic. If your partner becomes incensed that you have taken too long to bring his dinner and throws his bowl at you while simultaneously screaming and soiling himself, please send me an email because we need to talk in a safe place, free from my sarcastic internet persona.)

Our pre-parenting skills and all the well-intended advice work against us. We are led to believe that if we only did _______ for a little bit longer or tried ______, our baby will hiccup or whatever. Everything else has always worked that way. Clearly if it isn't working, we, as parents, are doing something wrong. The plan is foolproof. There is nothing wrong with the plan.

Children do not care for your plans. Your plans are merely an inconvenience that delays watching Bubble Guppies. The only thing you did wrong was you made plans that required performance from your child. This is easy to fix. Hiccuping is natural. So is a thunderstorm. I don't know about you, but I can't force either to occur by sheer willpower or extended study. It doesn't mean that it will never rain or that you shouldn't carry an umbrella. Just don't let it ruin your day.

Let's fast-forward. What if your child doesn't play sports? What if your child doesn't go to college? Should you force her? Have you ever seen a child forced to play softball? I think my mom may have some pictures. It's not pretty. There are many wonderful opportunities that may be beneficial to your child. Some will work out and some will not. Rather than focus on what is deviating from "the plan," focus on spending time with your child.

I'm a firm believer in staying out of a child's way, fostering a loving, structured environment and a creating self-worth miles away from anything your child does. If you really want your child to hiccup, keep trying, but if the quest to hiccup consumes your life, then stop. I'm not kidding. Your time with your child is too precious to spend in constant "achievement" mode. Relax and enjoy the moment. This is good practice for when your child comes home with green hair or plans to attend business school. (Hopefully I've covered the complete spectrum of parenting nightmares.)

You may be thinking that it should be easy to make babies do things because they have squishy, undeveloped minds. You are delusional, probably because you aren't sleeping (nor will you for the next 18 years). Don't play chicken with babies; they have nothing to lose and all the power. All they want is a hedonistic life of eating, sleeping and warm shelter. Engage them in a battle of wills and you, by contrast, will live in Dante's Eighth Circle of Hell, enduring incessant screaming, social isolation and eventual sleep-deprivation-induced psychosis. In the end, you have to give them what they want, or the state will put you in jail. Check and mate.

I'm not saying that eventually you won't need to set limits, but nature has set up a wonderful way of training parents to have a soft touch. When dealing with adults, it is perfectly acceptable and effective to say things like, "Write this report by Monday." and "Stop hiding waffles in the couch cushions." With kids, these types of phrases might work, for a while, but you are going to be spending a lot of time telling your child what you think they should be doing and less time working on your novel or eating ice cream. It is much easier (and more helpful to the child in the long run, different post...) to set general limits and let the consequences do the work for you, but that means releasing some control. Luckily, babies will break you like a wild stallion.

Think of it this way. Parenting is a lot like getting an egg shell out of an egg white. The harder you push, the faster the shell moves away from you. Let the shell come to you. If it doesn't, dump a bunch of nuts in the dough and hope for the best. This is one batch of cookies in a lifetime of cookies.

Oh, and if anybody ever says anything hateful or judgmental to you about any of your parenting decisions, keep in mind that some people have not achieved the bliss of losing control, so they try to control everyone around them. Feel bad for them, not yourself. Also, some people are jerks.

Finally, just in case you ever feel like the new mom in town, looking in vain for a seat in the Good Mommies cafeteria: You are not alone. You are not a failure. You are a wonderful, strong mother. Be proud of what you have accomplished so far and confident of what you will achieve in the future.

Again with the graphic?


Yep. I had so much fun last week with yeah write that I'm hooked. Take a look at the great blogs and vote for your favorites on Friday.

 

26 comments:

  1. Love the egg shell analogy...I've never thought of it like that, but it's so true! Also, people can be jerks, amen sister :)

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  2. Don't play chicken with babies.

    Words to freaking live by.

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    1. I can only hope that others will learn from my mistakes. :)

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  3. Your "hiccup" here is a great metaphor for - well for basically everything to do with parenting the things we are not in control of.
    PS: Yes, I fully intend to force my children to go to college if they think they might not go. Terrible, but so true.

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    1. Ha! I actually hesitate when I wrote the line about college because it will be very hard for me to not force my children to go. But I thought it was only fair since I talked about sports. Also, I'm not sure I will overtly force them to go. You don't want to go to college? Ok, go find yourself a job and an apartment. Wave goodbye to all your friends going off to college. That's letting the consequences do the work, which is great for me, because I'm lazy.

      I'm probably just bitter because in high school I told my dad I wanted to go into the auto mechanic tech program instead of college prep and he asked me why I didn't just kill my mother outright. Parenting by sarcasm

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  4. Fantastic post! You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it hiccup. This is a great read for all parents - a reminder to do your best and try not to force things that just aren't going to happen.

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    1. Thanks! Life is a lot saner when parents relax and let kids be kids.

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  5. Wonderful post! I am deep into mommyhood (kids ten and twelve) and so wish I had had great things like this to read a decade ago.

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    1. Thanks so much! Good luck with the approaching teen years!

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  6. Awww! I loved this! "Babies will break you like a wild stallion." I love that you took on the "hiccuping" establishment too. There is so much wisdom here, but more importantly there is humor here as well---no use going down this road without a sense of humor. Great post. Loved it! Erin

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    1. That is so true. A good sense of humor is the most important parenting/life skill.

      Yes, the "hiccuping" establishment...sigh. So much unnecessary dogma and hyperbole.

      I'm glad you enjoyed my post!

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  7. This is awesome... the loss of control that comes along with parenting is something i struggle with daily, but it's so true that the more i let go, the better parent i am. and the more my friends and husband enjoy my company. bravo!

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    1. I'm right there with you. I'm stubborn by nature, but I've got nothing on my kids. It's like they are just concentrated packages of my stubbornness. If I want to get anything done or have any life outside of them, I have to let things go.

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  8. I've never felt in control this entire time I've been a parent (just over 2 years). I take that as a win. :)

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  9. As a mother of a newborn too I lerve this line "Don't play chicken with babies; they have nothing to lose and all the power." Perfect.

    I think the whole "hiccuping" pressure prepares you well for the judgment that you'll face for the entire time your a parent. Unfortunately. BTW - there's a great article that ran in the Atlantic a few years ago called "The Case Against BF" You should definitely check it out!!

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    1. I just read the article. It so perfectly summarized my experiences. I also had no idea of the ties between Christianity, La Leche and feminism. Strange bedfellows to some extent. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

      And I think you are right. "Hiccuping" pressure is the first real gauntlet that tests parenting confidence. The difference between how I felt about it after my first child was born vs. my second was dramatic, mostly because by then I was comfortable in my role as "Mom-Boss."

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post! I know with a newborn, time is precious. (I'm not being sentimental, I mean that every waking second that is not consumed by baby bootcamp must be used judiciously.)

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  10. Dante's Eighth Circle of Hell. Love it!

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    1. The hidden nerd reference is that the Eight circle is for fraud, including fraudulent advice. Whomp, whomp.

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  11. As someone with children that did not hiccup I LOVE your perspective. I wish I could have shared your writing with the people who wanted to publicly flog me when they asked the ill-fated question to which I self-consciously responded "no". As parents, we definitely relinquish control to our little ones. A little scary but it makes for great blogging material!

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    1. Thanks so much! I had no idea how judgmental people felt free to be around parents until I was one myself. The loss of control seems to come from all angles, with the kids taking some and nosy people taking away the rest with their "helpful comments."

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  12. Oh my gosh, I never had a tenant in my uterus...I love your post because I certainly get the metaphor and it was very well written. And I for sure understand that people are jerks sitting idly by for a chance to jump and judge. But I'm not a jerk. At least I try not to be. So, for heaven sake, what are you talking about, exactly? If you're on Twitter and don't want to say it out loud you can DM me. Anyone? I feel like an idiot... as I am a woman, just not a mom.

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    1. Oh my! Sorry! I hate to leave people out! This post was about breastfeeding. Please don't feel like an idiot. I had moms ask me as well, because they had never been on a "mommy chat room" or anything like that. I don't advise you doing much undercover research, so let's just say the conversation regarding breastfeeding can get heated, particularly on the internet when you don't have to see the person's face when you eviscerate their feelings. It gets to the point where the moment someone brings it up (see, I won't say it more than twice in a post) there is a collective written groan.

      I'm on Twitter but I don't know how to DM, so hopeful this gets to you?

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  13. Okay, I'm not a mommy and I have no idea what hiccuping means. Pooping? Farting? Breast-feeding? Sleeping? Drooling?

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    1. Haha! The original question was about breastfeeding, but honestly, everything you mentioned is something that some parent, somewhere, has been made to feel insecure about, so I tried to pick something innocuous that could stand in. I swear, I never cared about poop as much as I do when another mother is talking about how her little one is a celebrated pooper. What have I become?!

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I love comments. They make me feel like I'm not talking to myself. I try to reply to all of them, eventually.