“What do you suggest?”
When it comes to parenting, I want advice on everything. From friends who are parents to medical professionals to books to blogs, I want to hear what other people have to say. I wholly believe in the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. As much as I’ve had to rely on friends, family, and childcare workers to care for my girls, I have to believe in it. Being half of a household of two parents who work, I have to trust certain individuals with two of the most beautiful blessings God has given to me. They are all the clichés – my heart walking outside my body, pieces of me. And I have to trust others with them.
I have been so thankful to have a village I do trust and do love. The Artist’s preschool teachers have doted on her and spoiled her so much over the past two years. She has flourished under their watch, and I am forever grateful. The Engineer goes to a church’s Mother’s Day Out program, and I have been so happy there the past two years. In fact, even though we’ve been out of school for almost two months now, The Engineer asked specifically for her MDO teacher. I showed her the class picture they took this past spring, and she was so excited. She giggled and chatted about each person and knew all of her classmates still.
I trust our medical professionals without reserve. I follow the AAP’s vaccination schedule to a T. When our pediatrician suggests that our kids try to fight off an illness without prescription meds, I give two thumbs up. I have doubted some doctors before, but I have never doubted our peds or how much they love our kids.
Big changes are happening this year, though. The Artist is starting kindergarten. She has attended a preschool for the last two years that had fewer than 35 kids in the entire school. The Engineer is still attending MDO, but she (hopefully – more on that in another post) will be potty trained. And for some reason, driving home one day, I just started questioning every parenting choice that day. “Are we sending The Artist to the right school? Should I have given The Engineer that cough syrup last night? Should I have taken her out of the pull-up before we ran errands? Should I have let the pediatrician check her for anemia? Should The Artist be in so many summer camps? Is that right?”
And then – I stopped myself.
For the first time in the five and a half years since I have been a parent, wise words that our pediatrician has said to me over and over finally, finally sunk in: “You are the expert on your children.”
YOU. You right there reading this. You may need to hear this, too: YOU are the expert on your children.
You know whether or not they can handle staying up late to watch Fourth of July fireworks. You know whether or not they like apples or oranges (Engineer likes apples; Artist likes oranges). You know how they like to be put to sleep at night. You know immediately when they wake up if something is off.
You are the expert.
We have so many options for our children and our families now. I have always taken the baby options in consideration as to what is best for our family. Nursing or formula fed (I had one of each, by the way)? In-home daycare or MDO or babysitter or stay home? Sleep train or not?
But the older my kids have gotten, the more I have forgotten that I know them. I don’t feel like an expert on much, but I am the expert on them.
I don’t know if The Artist will thrive in her new school or not, but I know she has a great chance for success there. That’s the best I can hope for with any school.
I still don’t know if The Engineer has anemia. We’ll get that checked later this month. But I do know that our doctor said to fill her up with lots of green veggies and see if that helps.
I don’t know about your kids – but you do. YOU are the expert on your own children. Whatever choice you make for your family, it will be one that you make because you know your children better than anyone else.
I don’t have to empower you because you have the power for these decisions already. And maybe you know that. But maybe you didn’t, and maybe you’re making big decisions for your family for this upcoming year. And maybe you’re worried.
And that’s okay. We’re all uncertain in this parenting world. But we’re all doing the best we can.