The thing about parenting is that there are so many, many ways to do it wrong.
I’m not even talking about, like, wrongity-wrong (by which I mean abusive); I just mean the banal, everyday, non-stop knowledge that I am fucking doing this wrong. I am addicted to advice, to data, and to rules; and there are so many, and they are so contradictory, and it’s amazing that there is so much to fuck up with a kid who basically still just eats and sleeps. Here is what I’m thinking much more often than is healthy:
- If he cries for more than 90 seconds his cortisol levels will rise.
- If my milk supply is too low, he won’t get enough nutrition.
- If my milk supply is too high, he won’t get enough hindmilk.*
- If I don’t swaddle him, his startle reflex will wake him up.
- If I keep swaddling him his hips won’t develop properly.
- If he is awake for more than 90 minutes at a time he is sleep deprived and his brain won’t develop properly.
- It goes without saying that I am slowly poisoning him, as well as wantonly ensuring that by the time he grows up the world will pretty much just be a giant landfill, by using disposable diapers and not making my own soap and diaper rash cream.
- And let’s not even think about the damage I will be doing in three months when I drop him off at fucking day care.
At a certain point it just becomes noise.
I think the lesson I need to learn, and right quick, is once again upekkha: equanimity. Calm. Trusting myself that I do know what to do, that when we hit that 91st second of crying he won’t actually explode, and that he, and I, will come out the other side intact.
Because most of the time I am loving this. And I’m not doing it wrongity-wrong. And even when I’m wrong I’m doing it with love, and the very best of intentions, and he seems to be doing OK so far.
The brahma-viharas are no joke. Metta to everyone. Karuna to those still slogging up Infertility Mountain. Mudita to everyone who’s feeling joy (shout out to Daryl!). Upekkha to the whole fucking world.
*Can we get a moratorium on the phrase “the thick, rich hindmilk?” It’s on every breastfeeding site, usually followed by a cutesy-poo reference to “dessert.”