Estimated reading time: 2 minutes
Robin Freyberg, New York, USA
I’m an overthinker.
I always have been.
Decisions that people would make easily or momentarily will often take me days, weeks, or months to agonize over. We won’t go into the seemingly never-ending analysis required to purchase a leather jacket.
So, imagine the minefield that is parenting.
When my first child, my daughter, was born, my capacity to overthink matters entered a new dimension. I overanalyzed every parenting decision. Should I sleep train? How? When? How do I handle discipline? Time outs? Positive punishment? Old school punishment? How should I introduce solid food? Veggies first? Fruit first? What kind? Overthinking.
At the time, I think I read every parenting book ever written. I was convinced that the experts knew more about my child than I did. Never mind that I was the one spending endless hours, days, weeks, months getting to know her. Never mind that I had received a doctorate in social development. Never mind. Never mind.
Of course, things have been different the second time around with my son. I have learned to trust my instincts more. Or rather, I have learned to trust the experiences that I gathered from my first. I don’t consult the baby books nearly as much. I haven’t even cracked open that “What to Expect” series once.
Okay, maybe just once.
Yet, that voice still lingers.
That voice still questions.
Am I really doing the right thing by my son? Is it okay that he hasn’t had organized playdates yet? Is it okay that we didn’t enroll him in those baby music classes? Is it okay that he is taking longer to sleep through the night? Overthinking.
Until one morning.
It is 5 am, and he starts crying. I wait a few minutes in the vague hope that perhaps he will go back to sleep.
He is not going back to sleep.
I pull him out of his crib and bring him into my bed to nurse beside me.
Maybe now he will fall back asleep. He never does but maybe now.
He nuzzles underneath my arm and starts to drink.
It is dark and warm in the room, and I feel his breath, warm tickles against my skin. I inhale the deliciousness that is the top of his head, gently stroking his honeyed hair. And I am at peace. And I am happy. I could stay like this forever with his body tucked into mine.
And then it starts.
But you can’t stay like this. He needs to go back into his crib.
The experts say you can’t stay like this.
My family says you can’t stay like this.
They say he will want to sleep like this forever, and then he’ll be ruined.
And then you’ll be ruined.
And then I remember my voice, the only one that ever mattered.
If it works for you, then nothing needs to change.
At that moment, I realize that it IS indeed working for me. I can silence the other voices and listen to my voice. I begin to relax in my body and enjoy the moment for however long it may be. My breathing deepens as I seem to sink further in my mattress, and my body melds with my son’s.
Just like that, with no warning, he stirs and sits up beside me.
Just like that, the moment is over.
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