Parenting: It's Just Guess and Check

Parenting to me, just seems like one big game of guess and check.

Take for example when a baby is crying. People - especially in the first few months - liked to look at me and ask me why my son was crying.

I wanted to look at them like they had grown a third arm, point to my chest and say in shock, "You actually think I know the answer to that question?"

Instead I hid my surprise and made something up - my two go-to answers typically being, "he's tired," or "he's hungry." I sounded like an informed and caring mom, and Eli's crying gets chalked up to a legitimate need, rather than just being plain "fussy."

But really, I haven't got a clue - he just ate an hour ago, napped for a solid two hours and has a clean diaper - his life is perfect and he should be happier than Sponge Bob Square Pants but he's a baby and sometimes there is no answer except for swaddling him tighter than a maxed-out Chipotle burrito, bouncing around the house like Tigger and shushing him at at 225 decibels - apparently to simulate the womb and take him to his happy place - or so I'm told.

We chalk babies' fussiness up to tummy aches, gas, growth spurts or the all encompassing, good-excuse-for-every-situation: teething. That's not to say they aren't fussing for good reason, it's just that - let's be real - we only know why about 50 percent of the time. We try bouncing, leg pumps, shaking a rattle and frozen teethers. Our husbands look at us with big, confusion-filled eyes, begging us to come up with a solution for the baby that won't stop crying unless we're standing, bouncing, butt patting and shushing all at once in a perfect 4:4 rhythm with a few 5:8 beats in there for good measure. And even the super parents can only keep that up for so long.

It's frustrating as heck to not know why, but you diligently tick through your list of solutions until something finally works, or the kid passes out from exhaustion. We can never really know the reasons until we see those first two teeth break through, the burp finally comes out, or that cute little button nose starts running.

With all the articles being written on Mommy Wars and the like, I find it hilarious that anyone even pretends they know what they're doing. They're just trying different things until something - anything on God's good green Earth works. Everyone seems to have a different answer as to what pediatrician to go to, how to introduce solids, what swaddle blanket to use, how to make nursing work, or any of the other 10 trillion parenting decisions you have to make - BECAUSE THERE IS NO ONE ANSWER.

Sure, you learn a lot along the way, what works in general for your kid and what doesn't. But we all know as soon as you have it figured out, something changes and you start that guess and check game all over again.

So new parents be encouraged, those that are afraid of someday having children take heart, and those that think they know-it-all be reminded - we are ALL clueless. None of us really know what we're doing, we're just figuring it out along the way, guessing and checking until something works.



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