Before the Bug was born in January 2015, I did a lot of reading.
Chico and I both got the Baby Center weekly emails, telling us just how pregnant I was and comparing the foetus to different fruit and vegetables (for size, I mean). It was exciting to follow his development week by week, and know how he was growing.
It wasn’t until after the Bug was born, though, that I really delved into the online world of parenting blogs and forums.
And it wasn’t long before I realized I simply had to stop.
Parenting bloggers are not always experts.
I’m someone who likes to seek advice from perceived experts. Most bloggers describe themselves as normal parents and share tips that have helped them (I’ve done it myself!). But when it comes to a specific concern, they are rarely qualified experts.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, of course. But when you’re in the totally normal state of near-panic when you first get home with your child, you’re often looking desperately for immediate answers. Answers which most bloggers and forum posters are not qualified to give.
Parenting blogs don’t describe your situation.
You’ll never find a forum post or blog article that perfectly describes your situation, or your child’s.
You’ll be thinking, “That *sounds* like what’s happening, except for this, that and the other thing.” So the solutions or suggestions they make never seem quite right, because you’re not sure their situation is the same as yours in the first place.
Then there are the blogs and books (I’m thinking of the “What to Expect” series in particular here) that make things sound so categorical. Reading these can make you feel even MORE insecure, especially when what they’re saying goes against what’s happening at home.
You can’t get immediate, accurate answers.
Online advice never comes fast enough. When you’re a panicked new parent, wondering if what your child is doing is normal, you want answers NOW.
Most people can’t call up their paediatrician and ask every single question whenever they want. If you go searching for info online, you have to wade through your search results first, then see if they apply to your situation. If you post on a forum, you never know how quickly someone with any experience is going to answer you.
You’re craving advice, information, or perhaps just comfort immediately, but you cannot get it.
When advice comes in, there can be too much.
Sometimes, when a question I had was responded to, it brought on even more confusion.
There are so many rights and wrongs, so many ways of doing things that are dictated by our family practices, our cultures and our backgrounds. Sometimes it can just be overwhelming thinking of all the possible solutions to a problem.
Often, by the time I got around to trying any of the suggestions I had received, whatever it was was no longer a problem.
Getting into a vicious cycle.
For a couple months after the Bug was born, I had some books I looked to frequently (“What to Expect the First Year,” and others), and I was frequently on Baby Center forums. I started listening to a parenting podcast called “The Longest Shortest Time.” I became a member of a couple of Facebook parenting groups. I downloaded an app for timing nursing sessions, measuring the baby’s weight, and knowing how long he slept.
While each of these resources was helpful in its way, and none of them was negative or toxic, I became overwhelmed.
Seeking answers or advice, I would turn to one or any of these resources, and would inevitably come back with more questions than answers. That brought on anxiety, as I then tried to find answers to the new questions that had sprung up.
I even wrote a couple of articles myself, hoping that by putting things down in words, I would clear up my own confusion, and thus make things easier.
Finally, I decided that spending my time with all these things was breaking down my confidence, rather than building it up.
So I threw it all out the window.
Not literally. I didn’t throw a book out the window.
I cut myself off. I deleted the app, shelved the books, stopped listening to the podcasts and removed myself from the forums and Facebook groups. I also cut off contact with a couple of people in my life who had proven to be toxic.
I decided to trust my instincts–to trust my husband’s instincts. I decided that the only “experts'” opinions I wanted or needed were our family and our doctor’s. I did hold on to the Quebec “From Tiny Tots to Toddlers” book, which healthcare providers in Quebec often refer to as “the Bible.” But that was the one resource I retained.
And do you know what?
I found myself so much more relaxed, more confident, more delighted with our baby, and happier.
Suddenly, motherhood became joyful rather than fearful.
Rather than over-thinking things, and worrying about how I was going to be a parent, I found the confidence to enjoy every single day.
I realized that it’s not about how *I* am going to parent, but how *our son* needs to be raised. Taking the focus off of me and putting it back onto our son actually helped me make more time for myself.
It may sound contradictory, but there you go. Deciding to be confident and to trust my instincts, allowed me to use the time I had spent worrying to do other things. I made new friends. I got back into my crafting.
Life got good again.
No, life got better. Because now it includes a wonderful little person I am lucky enough to call our son.