I find myself parenting differently the second time around. My expectations have shifted and my this-is-what-the-parenting-books-say has completely disappeared. I think I’m a better parent because of it.
A prime example of this are my three-year-old daughter’s sleep habits. We moved a couple of months ago, and she developed a new routine. Our new house has a main-floor Master bedroom, and nearly every night, she tip-toes downstairs in the middle of the night and crawls into our bed. Most nights I don’t even hear her, and I will often wake with her little body pressed up against mine. Not only do I not mind this even a little bit, I actually need it too. I’m still adjusting to my own “new normals” and there’s a big part of me that feels safe and secure when my children are at my side. Content and happy, calm and peaceful, just how life is meant to be. She snuggles into me and whispers, “Mama, can we snuggle?” with her sleep-drunk voice and her bedhead hair. So I wrap my arms around her and we fall back to sleep, both comforted by the fact that we’re together.
But I find it interesting that I’ve never questioned the “should I put her back in her own bed?” part. If my son, my first-born, had done the same, I likely would’ve done what many parenting books suggest: that children need to sleep in their own beds. I likely would’ve walked him back upstairs to his room, and put him back to bed. Because that’s what I “should” do. Or, more accurately, that’s what I perceived I should do. But now I realize that parenting is so much more enjoyable if you simply do what works for your own unique family in your own unique situation.
This works for us.