Parenting instinctually is important to me. Really, really important to me. And I am so blessed to be married to a guy to whom it’s also important. Ben is constantly encouraging me to follow my instincts, even when it isn’t an issue that feels like a big deal to him as a guy.
There’s the fact that every night, we split ways for the first part of the night. Because Timothy starts the night in a twin bed across the hall from us (so as not to disturb Vivi who’s on our floor), and I couldn’t feel comfortable leaving him in there alone, even with a monitor- and it wasn’t making sense to move/wake him to our room. Mentally, I knew he would be fine and we were close by….but I just couldn’t make myself feel comfortable with that. And unlike most guys, who’d just tell their wives that obviously the baby would be fine and someone would hear it, he said “I’ll sleep in the extra bed in there, and bring him to you when he wakes up. It’s not a problem; I can sleep anywhere.” He assured me that I should follow my instincts, and if I wasn’t comfortable leaving him alone, then one of us should be in there. And it works for us…I don’t worry, we all fall asleep quickly, and by midnight, if not long before, we’re all in the same room/bed together. (And as a side note, no, it doesn’t damage our marriage. On the nights we all start in the same bed, we all still just fall asleep. By the time we get there….we’re tired. You can ask Ben if you don’t believe me…but we do get lots of snuggle time after kiddos go to bed and before we do!)
Or there’s calming my concerns about our kids’ development. Not real concerns….I’m totally confident that they’re both developing normally, and are intelligent, active kids. I’m also confident that the way we parent them is best for them and meeting their needs. But at a few points, when I started to wonder if Timothy, like his big sis, would be “behind” kids developmentally, I suffered from brief self-doubt. Is it really our parenting style that causes them to be behind? Please, I don’t want to have to deal with explaining to people that yes, Timothy, too, is over a year and still not walking. And um, yeah, no, babywearing isn’t hurting him. Or….? But Ben jumps in and reminds me of what the real focus is: What’s best for our kids? So maybe because they’re with me so much they won’t move as soon, because they don’t need to. Does it matter? Their emotional needs are being met; they’re being grounded in our love and growing up securely; they’re developing their muscles as they enjoy partaking in my life. The golden standard isn’t what society tells me it is. Just because the baby who’s left down for hours a day is crawling at 5 months, doesn’t mean that’s what everyone needs to shoot for. And if Timothy’s 8 months before it happens…who cares? He’s developing normally, and he’s SO happy, secure, and confident. That’s what matters….and Ben reminds me.
Or the way he’s encouraged my breastfeeding journey. When I’ve gotten discouraged with nursing aversion issues with Vivi, he didn’t just say, “Well, then, why don’t you just wean her if you don’t like it?” Instead, he sought to find out what my goals were, and how he could help me reach those goals. At one point, that was taking over nighttime parenting so I could switch to just nursing during the day. At other points, it’s just been encouraging me to keep on…and encouraging me that it’s okay and I’m not a bad mom to struggle with the hormonal baggage of tandem nursing. But he never told me to quit crying about it, or reminded me that I “asked for it”.
Ben lets me parent by instinct everyday…and as he supports my gut feelings, he also goes by his. It’s a beautiful pattern- a beautiful way to parent together. I love being so in sync with each other on our parenting journey! I’m so thankful to have the rare gift of a husband who’s as passionate about natural parenting as I am…a husband who’s gung-ho for meeting our kids needs and parenting naturally, rather than putting me in a “choose me or them” position. Together, we can seek what works best for everyone, instead of the pressure being put on me to choose between instinct and marriage, for instance. I’m pretty confident I’ll never have to say, “Well, Ben really wanted (such and such), so we’re working on that. It’s hard, but it’s what he wanted, so….I guess it’ll all work out.”
Thank you, Ben, for supporting your crazy, passionate wife as we parent two awesome kids with plenty of challenges!