Don’t Tell Me How to Parent!

Rachel last summer when her daddy left

Rachel last summer when her daddy left

If the title didn’t give it away, I don’t appreciate people telling me how to raise my child. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, since people have been trying to stick their noses into my business from the day I announced I was pregnant. I think that is just a part of being a parent. Everyone wants to know how you do it so they can tell you what you’re doing is wrong. When it comes to how I help my kid handle a deployment, however, mind your own beeswax!
Allow me to explain. I happen to have one of the best kids on the planet. Yes, I’m saying

Rachel's 2nd Birthday

Rachel's 2nd Birthday

that because I’m her mom but I’m also saying this because she’s incredibly well mannered and easy going. She started sleeping in her own crib when she was about 4 months old, and slept through the night almost immediately. I had it pretty good. When my husband left for his deployment she was only 19 months old. I thought she would have a hard time with it, but she really seemed to handle it well. But then it happened. My husband came home for two weeks in January for his R&R and she bonded to him like glue. I’d like to take the time to explain that I went to a conference in St. Louis for 4 days and it took her half the day to get used to me again when I returned. My husband was gone for 6 months and she went right to him in the airport and gave him hugs and kisses! She’s definitely Daddy’s little girl! But I digress… When my husband left again to finish his deployment, Rachel started having a hard time. She was asking about him constantly, crying for him, acting out, and worst of all, she started waking up in the middle of the night.

During Daddy's visit home

During Daddy's visit home

I actually see the change in Rachel’s behavior as a good sign.  This means that she knows her daddy is gone and, more importantly, that he’s supposed to be here with us.  This is something I had prepared myself for.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but I made it my mission to help my little girl make sense of all of this.

I made Rachel a “Daddy Movie” made up of all of the pictures of him I could find.  It’s a slide show  set to the song “My Girl” and even explains at the end that Daddy is coming home.  It’s incredibly cheesy but it gets the point across.  I also draw pictures of our family with her and explained that Daddy is working far away but he will be home when the weather gets warm.  I have her talk to him on the webcam as often as possible.  I have a calendar in her room where we count down the days to Daddy coming home and other special events.  I given her a plethora of events and activities to keep her busy and create little milestones throughout the course of the deployment.  We talk about Daddy every day and now Rachel will tell me that Daddy is coming home real soon.  I even bought a butterfly hatching kit so she can see that Daddy will be home when the caterpillars become butterflies.  I know, the last one is strange, but how else am I going to help a two year old measure time?  Besides, it’s a fun activity and I should at least get an A for effort. Daddy Movie

Clearly, I’ve been working pretty hard to make sure Rachel gets through this deployment the best way she can.  This

Rachel and our dog Hondo

Rachel and our dog Hondo

still didn’t solve every problem that developed after my husbands departure.  She still won’t sleep through the night.  For weeks I’d wake up to her crying around 3:00 am, spend the better part of an hour trying to put her back to sleep and then wake up again with her at 6:00am.  So, I did what I think any logical parent in my situation would do.  I decided to bring her into bed with me when she wakes up in the middle of the night.  It’s the only way I can get a decent amount of sleep and it seems to put her at ease.

I think you see where this is going now.  That’s right.  I was talking to a group of people the other day and someone commented on how good natured my daughter is.  I thanked them and this apparently invited a bunch of questions, one of which asking if she sleeps through the night.  I explained that she doesn’t, which then lead to me explaining that I bring her into bed with me.  And there it was…”You know, that’s not a good idea,” someone said.  “Have you talked to a doctor about this,” another said.  And my favorite: “Oh the poor little thing,” said someone else.  

Grrr!!! Who do they think they are?  Do they really think they were being helpful?  I’ve come to expect this from some people, like my family and my in-laws, but I was dealing with people I barely know.  Picture that!  Mere acquaintances questioning my parenting!

Me and my girl...back when she slept thru the night!

Me and my girl...back when she slept thru the night!

I managed to keep my cool with these people and explained that bringing Rachel into bed with me is an excellent idea.   I told them that I always have her start the night in her bed and I did actually talk to a doctor about this who is on board with my method.  Trying my best not to sound like I’m on the defense (eventhough I totally was), I explained that Rachel is waking at night because of separation anxiety and it’s best for her to be as close to me as possible in her father’s absence.  I wanted to say a whole lot more but adhered to my better judgement and refrained.

First of all, don’t feel sorry for me or my child.  This is the life my husband and I chose for her and, all in all, it’s a pretty darned good one!  We are a military family and this happens to be a part of it.  It’s not always great, but a lot of it is because we make it great.  I could go on about how I think people these days confuse pride with pity, but that’s another blog.

I’m going to make a t-shirt for Rachel to wear when I know we’re going to be around judgemental people.  It’s going to say: “If my mommy wants your opinion, she’ll ask you for it.”  I’m going to make another for myself that says: “Back off, B****!”  Maybe I won’t, but it’s fun to think about!

Rachel this past Easter

Rachel this past Easter

The truth is, people are always going to give you their opinion.  They are always going to judge you in some capacity and maybe even talk about you behind your back.  There’s only one thing you can do about it and that’s be the best person you can by your own standard.  As much as I wanted to slap someone when I was in that situation, I knew all I could do was give them my own opinion and go on to be the best mommy I can.  I know I’m a good parent and I don’t need the approval of some people I barely know.  Let them talk!  They clearly have nothing better to do!

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2 Responses to “Don’t Tell Me How to Parent!”

  1. Katie Kelly Says:

    Hey! I teared up reading this. I know what it feels like to have your parenting methods challenged. It hurts, but most of all you want to tell people to mind their own business! People constantly come up to me in stores and things and say. “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!” I used to go into some big rant about how they’re really good babies and they’ve been sleeping through the night since 3 weeks old, etc. But now, I only say, “It’s not bad at all, I love my daughters.” most people just shut up and walk away. Good luck with her during the deployment, you’re a Super Mom!!!

    • andreaseeger Says:

      Thank you so much for your comment! I used to be super sensitive about stuff like that when I first had Rachel. The first time someone told me breast feeding is archaeic and disgusting I wanted to cry. It seemed like no matter what I did people were going to find something wrong with it. Then I developed a thicker skin as time went on. You can’t help but laugh at these know it all’s! It’s hard enough to be a parent- you shouldn’t need to worry about someone telling you the baby bjorn is going to give your kid scoliosis or that breast is best or whatever else they may have seen on tv!

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