I don't (or damn try my hardest not to) give advice unsolicited. About most things...travel plans, relationships, menu choices, apparel (....okok I give Ross advice on apparel just because he should be diagnosed with some sort of fashion deficiency ...because he is apparel challenged) career choices. I may ask leading questions. I may share like experiences...but most importantly I don't give parenting advise....and most people don't ask thank God. Folks who are free with their advice in parenting seem to miss that...nobody asked them.
Once upon a time in a former career path I was involved in the educational process of parent who were tottering or had crossed the line into abuse or neglect, those things being the dipolar end of the spectrum. I was relatively young...26 or so...with no children. Although I have often used the analogy that you don't have to be standing in a blazing house to know that the damn thing is on fire...yet I cringe when I think of how little experience I had in the actual arena of parenting.
It took only one weekend to realize this...I remember when they packed The Professor in the car after a few days at the hospital when it was fairly cold. He seemed so small and we went home in that evening hour. I remember thinking .."Wait are they gonna let us just walk out of here with this BABY??" and "I didn't even have to siiiiign anything to take this child outta here." Maybe I thought it was because I was with Ross who was bowed chest walking as proudly as a goose out of the Klinik with our son brooking no argument. Pretty sure that if he wouldn't be thought a fool he would have sung "The Hills are Alive" from the Sound of Music. I myself was experiencing a little more trepidation.
Within 48 hours (Sunday from Friday to be exact) ...after a week long trial and error...(mostly error and futile results) of breastfeeding and worried to death that The Professor was hungry I went to supplement with formula and realized I didn't have any.... after 6 pm...in Illesheim Germany...Shit shit shit shit shit! At that moment I came to the solid desperate conclusion that I didn't know what in. the. hell I was doing. I sent Ross to the only place that I knew would have formula...the hospital... and beg them to give us some to last us through the night which they gladly did (no begging required I'm sure we weren't the first dumbass American who forgot there wasn't a 24 hour Walmart down the road).
I could enumerate a long long list of things that I wish that I knew..things I beat the hell out of myself over...things I wish I could do over...and really in the larger picture they are now what I realize..little things...the fact is I realized my mistakes and corrected them the next time around...sometimes I wrote my mistakes up op my own personality quirks or resolutely admitted were perceived "traditional" misteps but willing to take the judgement of others and proceed in the same direction.
The point is...all parents must find their own level....their own way..into parenting. Ninety five percent of people will float to the top and find their own normal. They'll bob along..go under a little and come back up..as the waters get choppy etc. We find our way back up.. I learned a looong time ago that there is a huge spectrum of parenting choices. On one end you have neglect and the other end you have abuse...but in the middle...the middle has a huge array of different styles and choices. Forgetting the ends, (Abuse and neglect which of course I am not going to hesitate to say are wrong and immoral) there's plenty in there that I would say I wouldn't do and some that I have said that I wish had of thought of...Bottom line. We each do the best we can where we are with what we have. Period.We are a summation of our experiences. Cobbled together with our genes and nurturing we forge forward in this world making the best way that we can in all aspects of our lives.
Parenting isn't for the weak. You move from nights of lost sleep and this tiny person's bodily secretions to preventing the child from accidental suicide and then into negotiating the finer aspects of social mores and relationship building along with goal setting and achievement. It's precarious...and thrilling and heartbreaking and scary and wonderful fun...
But it's a mountain you gotta climb yourself. I'll be down here cheering you on...not bossing you around.