Having been a mother to two girls only 19 months apart, I had a tough time while bringing them up. Not only was it physically tiring running after two girls all day long, it was equally difficult trying to keep both of them happy with words of praise. As usual they were as alike as chalk and cheese and if I praised one for her curly hair, the other would immediately go into a sulk because her hair was poker straight!
I tried to make things simple by dressing them up identically so that neither one would be wearing a dressier prettier than the other one’s. Of course this brought forth a lot of criticism from many of my friends especially those who had two children of the same-sex but I would always counter it with the argument that it worked for me.
The bottom line, therefore, is that parenting is all about what works for you! There are hundreds of rule books telling you what’s right and what’s wrong. There are grannies and grandpas and hundreds and thousands of uncles and aunts who will give you examples of how “so and so went bad because he wasn’t brought up properly,” and of course there are the strangers who meet you in random places like the building lift and tell you that thumb-sucking is a bad habit!
But is thumb-sucking really such a bad thing? My daughter who was recently in Italy bringing up her little three-month old with absolutely no help suddenly found the neighbourhood windows light up to her child’s heart rending screams. Of course she tried all that she could to pacify the baby, right from singing songs to rocking to feeding to walking him up and down and doing everything that people told her or suggested she do. But of course the baby only stopped crying when he wanted to stop crying and till today we don’t know what went wrong with him.
While crying babies are hard to deal with, what scared her more was the story of the Norwegian couple whose children were taken away by the Social Security services because of perceived child neglect. Now I don’t want to get into the details of that case but she was actually mortified that someone would complain and her baby would be whisked away because he cried night after night. And of course she didn’t know a word of Italian and most Italians don’t know a word of English, so you can imagine her state of panic. It is difficult articulating your thoughts through mime and sign and if you try applying that to a situation where you have a crying baby on your hands and a pesky policeman at the door, you know it is nothing but a recipe for disaster.
However, for every problem there is a solution especially when there was a pharmacy across her street. After months of resisting the temptation of getting a pacifier, her husband finally went across and bought it. Yes, he bought a pacifier, thereby committing a cardinal sin of parenthood – Thou shalt not give thy child a pacifier. It is amazing how that simple act of stuffing the pacifier in baby’s mouth actually not only shut him up but acted like an on and off switch! Within minutes of sucking at the little thing, he would actually fall asleep. Of course this did not guarantee a stress free night for his parents who often had to get up in the middle of the night looking frantically for the pacifier in the middle of the sheets because baby would often get up screaming when the pacifier fell out of his mouth.
So the other fall out of that remarkable little thing is that the pacifier not only keeps baby quiet at times when nothing else will, it also miraculously acts like a sleep inducing switch. The moment he whimpers and starts rubbing his eyes, we just slip in the pacifier and within seconds he is out like a light.
Like all rules in life, there are always exceptions so if a pacifier is what keeps your baby happy – just go for it and enjoy some moments of peace and quiet.
As a mother of two thirty-year old daughters and a grandmother of a nineteen week old grandson, Sunita Rajwade has been there and done that. A hands on mom, she has seen two girls grow successfully through baby hood, toddler hood, adolescence and adult hood; solving their maths problems and contributing to their angst of growing up with a mom “who doesn’t understand”. But now as a grandmother, she’s being appreciated for her “wisdom” and “understanding” and would like to share my experiences of this wonderful journey from motherhood to grandmotherhood