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The "Easy" Way

M.L. Ondercin
Syracuse NY USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 23 No. 1, January-February 2006, pp. 18-19

Since we found out we were expecting our daughter, we have been receiving reams of advice urging us to do things the "easy" way. Through experience, we have found that the true "easy" way is often the opposite of the advice we have received.

We were told that the "easy" way was to use a crib or cradle instead of welcoming our daughter into our bed. However, with her in bed with us, all-night breastfeeding sessions became a peaceful, restful time for the three of us instead of sleepless nights for me.

We were also told that we needed bouncy chairs and swings to soothe her and playpens so we could put her down and get things done. We found, however, that the best places to put her down to play were the wide open spaces of the living room, and our arms were the only places needed to soothe her troubles.

We were also told to get a stroller and use it always, and put her down so she could see the world. Luckily, we realized that she could see so much more from up high in her sling, safe and contented, close in our arms. Some of the advice we got was good, however, and we took what worked for us and left the rest behind.

When our son was born, again we received lots of bad advice. We were told it was time to move our daughter to a separate room, time for the big girl bed, time to be away from her parents. We were told that we would get so much more rest; we would have a peaceful night with only our newborn son in the family bed.

Listening to this advice caused sleepless nights. When she was with us, she had the security of nearby parents to soothe away bad dreams. But when she was in another room, we had to make the groggy walk through the apartment to reassure our child, who was thrashing in the throes of a bad dream in her darkened room.

After enduring three sleepless nights, I had some problems with the "easy" way! It brought us a disconsolate child who was simply seeking her mother and father for comfort.

My experience has taught me that all the advice to do it the "easy" way should be put aside. It is only useful for parents who can sleep through the sounds of a crying child.

My experience told me that the best way for our family is often the opposite of "easy" advice. My children know that it's best to be in their parents' bed, curled close to that heartbeat they've heard during nine months in my womb. My children also know how comforting it is to rest safely in daddy's strong arms during a nap.

After my experiences with my children, I wonder why people seem surprised at children who feel disconnected from family and friends. How else are they supposed to feel when, as children, their parents push them away? Somehow, so many "experts" have decided that the "easy" way is to replace a loving presence with objects, to push that child away as quickly as possible toward independence while they're still crying out to be held and treasured. Conventional advice tells parents to leave their children, to push them away from loving arms and a nourishing breast.

The easy way that works for us is perhaps not as convenient; it may not give us extra personal time for ourselves. Sometimes it doesn't let us pursue hobbies, or on some days even careers. It can even leave the house looking like a disaster zone. But being there and giving of myself feels a whole lot easier to me. We're all sleeping better, too!

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