Being a mother means that you are more aware than anyone else about being judged for your actions. Funnily enough, however, it is usually mothers that are the most judgmental.
As a mother, I don’t know how many times I’ve thought to myself any and all of the below in a day:
- That poor child must be so cold, they have no jumper.
- That poor child must be hot, look at all those layers.
- It’s too cold to let them paddle in the water!
- I wouldn’t let my child eat that – I only feed my child organic.
- That baby needs a sleep, I would put their needs first.
Now just as an example today so far I have:
- Underdressed my kids for the grocery shop anticipating 28 degrees and forgetting supermarket air-con.
- Overdressed my kids for the car trip home from the beach, when it actually was 28 degrees and I rugged them up from paddling in the frigid water.
- Let my kids paddle in the frigid water.
- Fed my kids their usual 3 x weetbix breakfast. Then a full croissant from the bakery. Each. (V1 left 1/8 in the form of crumbs on the floor, an act too that I judge myselr for leaving). Then a homemade choc chip cookie each after lunch (along with the beaters from the batch). They will also have popcorn for Sunday arvo movie ritual. And I don’t even know who I’m trying to convince when I say we eat organic. I know our bills (already hefty at $300 per week) would at least double if we really did eat organic.
- Skipped V2’s morning nap for the sake of a nice activity on father’s day – she did have a teeny car sleep so I’m a little redeemed on this one.
Maybe it’s just me (scary thought) but I do think we as mums are so worried how others perceive our actions that we passively (often aggressively) judge others.
It was as a result of some passive suggestions (passive in nature, yet lasting in impact) that my better half and I consulted with the dummy fairy.
Amongst a few of the phrases I have heard of late from well meaning friends and relatives:
- ‘He doesn’t still have a dummy does he?’
- ‘Well after 2 it will impact his teeth’
- ‘It’s only going to get harder to get rid of it’
And the straight up no beating around the bush, ‘when are you going to get rid of it?’.
I guess ultimately I wouldn’t listen if these weren’t thoughts that ran through my head almost daily. But that is precisely where they are allowed to be housed, pondered, rejected and rainchecked for a better time.
Of late however, I’ve lost control of a few things (that’s a longer story, believe it or not) and my better half and I decided this was one area we could control.
After a dummy free nap at daycare on Thursday and an earnest admission on Thursday night that he was ready to leave his dummies for the poor kids (that’s where the dummy fairy takes them’) in exchange for a supremely amazing toy (que gasp – yes a very large, and might I say, rather expensive, bribe – please hold off on judging, the judgment upon myself is enough) V1 appeared to be mentally equipped for the challenge (and so were we).
We had always said cold turkey wasn’t the way. I worried about him becoming attached to his thumb instead. V1 being 3.5 and V2 being 18 months (almost) we are well past crying it out. We simply couldn’t go back. So we chose to wait for logic and reason to prevail. We were lucky we weren’t waiting longer.
I acquired the desired toy (Mack 3 Cars Transporter & Carry Case that holds, wait for it, 16 cars). He saw the box in the shed after daycare pickup on Friday (the dummy fairy was particularly rushed that day) but it served as a visual reminder of the reward for his undertaking challenge.
He got ready for bed (after some gentle coaxing throughout the evening reminding him of his prize. And watching the YouTube video of the little boy unwrapping his very own same truck!) He went to the usual cupboard for his dummies and said ‘get them please mummy’.
We calmly and quietly reminded of the bargain he had made. The wheels in his brain turned slowly (much like Mack’s wheels – it was pricey but remarkably not that smooth running!) as he ran through the steps that had led him to this junction. But I offered to skip tooth brushing (I know, I know – shhh) and remembered I had also bought a die cast Mater. This proved to be a sufficient taster. We went straight to bed for a big mummy cuddle, 6 songs from Prince of Egypt, Moana, Beauty and the Beast and Frozen. All the while Mack never left his hand. And lo and behold he was asleep and didn’t budge.
We had done it.
All of our angst was for nothing.
At 5.40am he rose and came into our room. ‘Where’s my Mack truck?’ I heard in the sweetest little voice, next to the chink of the metal in Mack that was still safely in hand. (Yes it easy early, but he had made it – I was as excites as he was!)
Since then Mack has barely had a moment’s rest. He sleeps by the bed with V1. And despite missing our day nap on a dummy free day 1, he is now solidly asleep having a rest (with Mack and Mater).
Our recipe for dummy removal included a lot of bribery. A fair amount of money and a little bit of coaxing. Most of all, it was made up a lot of discussion with V1 to agree. He’s becoming such a real little person it is often hard to remember how much he is capable of understanding. He knows he’s not a baby. He knew it was just a matter of time. And he knew a lot of his friends didn’t have theirs anymore. I’m glad that it was a relatively simple (and if I compare to the cost of replacement dummies between now and 4.5yo which is when I thought he’d have them til!), cheap and pain free exercise.
I know it isn’t the case for all. And I know how hard it would have been for him.
It is something individual to every child and we, as their parents, are the only ones that know when the time is right (even if some outside prompting did cause me to take a closer look and stop clinging to the reliability of day sleeps with a dummy as a means for my rest!)