Heather Sanders

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March 2007



Things I Wish I Had Done Differently as a First-Time Parent.

Written by , Posted in Everything Else, Kids and Parenting

Things I wish I'd done differently

Yesterday I was humbled by your praise and encouragement regarding mine and Mr. OMSH’s child labor practices. And of course, if you haven’t read about that, don’t come unglued; child labor has its place.

Today, because I can’t stand to be a hypocrite, I want to outline some of the things I regret doing as a first-time parent – as in, I know I could have made a better choice(s) and didn’t. We’ll call them mistakes.

And? Because I know I’ll get emails about this … IF you have made decisions that I am calling mistakes, please remember I’m talking about ME. You are YOU. I am ME. Again –> I’m talking about me, not you. I do get on my soapbox about a lot of things, but after raising 3 kids it is a rare thing for me to point fingers at a parent and say, “YOU are doing it wrong.” Okay? Good.

#1. Babywise is stupid.

I wish, as a first time parent, that the Ezzo’s book, Babyunwise, had never been placed in my hands (Note: I did NOT place a link to the book as I WOULD NEVER promote it as an option for how to “train” a child). It was given to me by a woman I thought had it together; she used it and her children seemed well-rounded and behaved. I didn’t know any better (“Doesn’t a quiet, controlled child equal a happy child?” Um. Maybe. Not always.) and wanted to make sure I gave my child every chance in the world, so I implemented their practices on my first child.

I cannot tell you how many times I have wanted to curse their name and wish I could take those years back.

I am not launching into a discussion on CIO, because that is not the totality of what I hate – yes, hate – about this book. I repeat, I do not have issues with short sessions of CIO. I DO have issues with what I can only describe as a method of parenting that distances a parent from the heart of their child. I honestly believe that Babywise is the equivalent of raising a child at an arm’s length; cold, heartless, and wrong.

#2. Breastfeeding Blues

I wish I had breast fed my first child. I didn’t. I’m not anti-formula … NOT AT ALL. I realize there are women, for one reason or another, who cannot breastfeed, need to supplement, or don’t want to breastfeed. If educated about the health aspects of breastfeeding, I do not understand the “not wanting to” portion of the argument, but really … I’m not a Nazi-Breastfeeder. I will say that the time I spent breastfeeding my 2nd and 3rd children were sweet (okay once we got past the toe-curling, explicative-shouting pain associated with both of their tongue-tiedness. – but THAT is another story altogether).

Be it hormones, my babies’ precious suckling faces, or just the sheer delight of being able to eat more, I loved breastfeeding. It forced me to slow down, sit down, and stare at this precious bundle drinking up my milk. I never slowed down with my first child. As soon as I could figure out a way for her to balance/hold her bottle alone, I did. I regret not sitting and holding that bottle for her. I regret that she spent so much time in her car seat … which brings up my next regret.

#3. Car Seats – y’know for CARS

I regret that I used the car seat for more than just a car seat. As in, I wish I would have clicked it into the car and kept it there. And in addition to this I want to sing praises to the Baby Bjorn, the Fleece Kangaroo Pouch, and the Hip Hammock. Those three items allowed me to keep the car seat IN the car and the stroller in the trunk.

I didn’t get into baby wearing until my 2nd child was about 18 months old. She fractured her leg coming down a slide and was in a cast. Pulling out the stroller to go down the hill and get the mail or around the house wasn’t a convenient option. I went looking online for an alternative and found the Hip Hammock. That item led to my adventure in other forms of baby wearing.

Before my 3rd child was born, MR. OMSH and I went to Baby’s R Us and tried on every single baby carrier they had. We wanted one that would fit us both. We found the Baby Bjorn and fell in love (not with the price – but with the function). After cashing in our retirement CD *ahem* we purchased it and proceeded to wear the heck out of it. I can count on two hands the amount of time my 3rd child was in a stroller.

Again, I’m not saying strollers are bad; I’m saying they are inconvenient on most occasions.

Wearing our baby – and even wearing our 2nd child for the short time we did – MADE A DIFFERENCE. I can’t explain it, but it developed a trust and a bond I have had to work hard to develop in our first child. I feel like I cheated her without knowing it. So much regret.

#4. Co-co-co-co-sleeping

I know … now everyone is on edge. What is OMSH gonna say about co-sleeping. Here’s what I’m gonna say. IF YOU CAN … do it. If you like it, do it. If you haven’t tried it, try it. If it doesn’t work, stop doing it. What I regret is not allowing (and I’m not saying that I didn’t try – I’m saying I outright DID NOT ALLOW) my first child to come to bed with us.

I had been trained that if you let a child sleep with you they will always want to sleep with you. And to that, I call bullsh*t. Was that tacky? It was meant to be. I’m pretty darn certain Kenny won’t be 21 and crawling into bed with me. See where I’m going with this?

Some children LIKE and NEED to sleep alone. Some children LIKE and NEED the security of sleeping with their parents. Our 6, nearly 7, year old will come to our bed when she has nightmares. She can snuggle in between her daddy and I and it chases away fear. My son comes to our bed anytime he wakes up to pee. I can tell when it is okay to tuck him back into his own and when he really needs to rest with us. Either way, our bed is open. Our oldest – she wouldn’t come into our bed if I dragged her. It doesn’t feel right to her. And I wonder – is it because I would never allow it when she was a child? Is it because I was uncaring then? Maybe. However, she doesn’t have a means to gain that “security” when she’s scared. She tells us about how she has nightmares and can’t sleep. And she’s alone when she does that. And that is MY fault. Yes, it is. I regret that.

I am 34 and I still can’t sleep when my husband is out of town. I learned how to code and turn-out a website when he went to Basic Training because I COULD NOT SLEEP AT NIGHT. If, at 34, I have those fears, I know that my children have them. I can pray for peace and I can rest in the comfort that the Lord watches over me. But for now, as my children are growing, I’m supposed to be that comfort to them.

#5. Anger Management

This is the hardest to talk about. I have anger issues. No, I don’t beat my children senseless or any other such atrocity, but I show a level of imbalance that is embarrassing at times. In fact, at times I am so downright childish that MR. OMSH has to tell me to quit it. And y’know, I have to accept it, because he’s right.

I don’t stay angry. Not at all. Most of the time I am laughing and corning around and being a complete loon. I have patience and more patience and then another measure, but then *kaaaaboom* … either meltdown or the “wrath of the stricken mother” appears. I cry and holler and say things like, “I just WISH that you guys understood how HARD I work to get ALL of this DONE!” or here’s a good one, “Why can’t you let me nap? DO YOU NOT LOVE ME? DO YOU NOT CARE THAT I AM EXHAUSTED?!” Oh yea, maturity at it’s best. And it is ugly and loud and stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

I see that type of imbalance play out in ALL of my kids at some point or another. Of course, they learned it from me. I’m working on it. I talk to them about losing my temper and how it isn’t right. I ask forgiveness. We move on. I will struggle with this forever – it is how I deal. It is childish. I am sometimes a child raising children.

There are other things – I’m sure there are. But that was a pretty large unload.
So see, I might be able to figure out how to get my kids to work in the kitchen or vacuum the house, but I have my fair share of inconsistencies and regrets.

We are all just trying the best we can.

Heather Sanders


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