Photo by: Wonderlane
Periodically, it seems that motherhood was actually inscribed as a "how to" manual, like The Bible. Of course, there are many interpretations, and many devotees proclaiming that they have The Answers if you follow their lead.
An example is the much ballyhooed article from last week in Time magazine, "Are You Mom Enough?" The picture on the cover provokes opinions around how long one should breastfeed. Additionally, it presents The Gospel of Sears. Or one parenting "manual" that focuses on attachment parenting.
The trouble with manualizing parenting is that there really isn't one way to parent. In fact, many parents find that they have to shift their paradigm with different children. But Parenthood, being one of the ultimate contact sports (or at least comparative sports) likes to focus on the black and whiteness of it all. The good vs bad. Us vs them. Hmmm, dynamics that many of us try to NOT instill upon our children.
A problem with parenting is that there is no instruction book. Although, I like the idea that the OB/mid-wife/person who delivers the baby forgets to give you the personalized leaflet that is attached to the placenta. One thing that seems to make sense is "Do little harm." The reality is that we will all give our children memories that they wish they didn't have. There will be moments when, in retrospect, our kids will wonder what we were thinking or how they ever survived. (After all, some of us didn't need a car seat until we were 13 years old...)
In other generalized guidelines, "Follow your gut...or don't." Some of us are more intuitive about parenting, while others need something more concrete. As there is no one right way, you pretty much can do as you want. Obviously, keeping kids safe is a priority (I'm not advocating neglegence) but safety is up to interpretation.
During the first few months of life, parents are caught up in the minutia of it all. Each wrong turn can seem monumental. When in fact, it doesn't really matter in the scheme of things. Bottle vs breast; how long to breast feed; working vs staying at home; sleep training vs not; co-sleeping vs crib sleeping. So many choices, which boil down to: what works for each individual family. The caveat: what worked with your first child when you were a family of three might not be replicable as a family of four. We all get to create our own Gospel According to Mom.