baby

'My daughter can keep her dummy for as long as she likes, despite what others say.'

Dear daughter,

I share photos of us on social media and I wonder what people think. I imagine them saying to one another, “Why does she always have a dummy in her mouth – is she not a happy baby?”

“Wow! She’s still giving her daughter a dummy – isn’t she old enough to go without one now?”

And I’ve actually had people say to me, “It’s time you started taking those dummies away from her.”

It doesn’t help that the packaging of your favourite brand of dummies states: ‘For ages up to 18 months’. You are 20 months.

"I don’t care if a baby ‘should’ be weaned off the dummy by 18 months." Marina and her daughter. Image source: Supplied.

But you know what I decided soon after you were born? I don’t care what people think. Sure, sometimes I idly wonder (I’m a thinker, I can’t help it), but deep down I don’t care.

I don’t care if a baby ‘should’ be weaned off the dummy by 18 months. I don’t care if it’s another ‘habit’ I’ll have to ‘break’ or that I’m creating ‘more work’ for myself in the ‘long run’.

I don’t care what assumptions people make about your mood. I don’t care that there are kids out there who never used a dummy to begin with, or that there are 5-year-olds still being pacified by plastic.

You are not ‘a’ baby; you are MY baby. And no one is going to tell me when you’re ready to be weaned off the dummy. Actually, there is one person who will tell me when it’s time. You. You may or may not get to an age where you can speak it, but I will know.

I’ll know by the confidence you display in social situations and at bedtime. I will know by the way you tolerate and communicate pain. I will figure these things out, and act on them, because I am your mother – and that is my job.

"No one is going to tell me when you’re ready to be weaned off the dummy." Image source: supplied.

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You know what else is part of my job description? Working towards making you feel happy, comfortable, supported, and soothed. This is hard. Being a mother is hard. It’s constant, CONSTANT work. Emotional work. Physical work. Mental work. Soul-destroying, poop-cleanup-and-immediate-bath-time-work.

I totally understand (and subscribe to) the mentality behind sausage rolls for lunch when cooking is just way too hard. But depriving you of something that brings you calm when you are feeling anxious/scared/pain, just to make my job ‘easier in the long run’ is not something I’m interested in.

I made the decision to bring you into this world. I have accepted that being a mother is difficult. No matter how hard this job is, it’s up to me to provide you with everything you need to feel loved and accommodated in every way.

"I will always strive to give you what you need despite what other people may think of me for doing it." Image source: supplied. 

So if you need extra comfort because I’m dropping you off at daycare where you sometimes take a little while to warm up, you’re teething, or it’s nearing naptime and we’re still running errands - then I will give you a dummy. And I don't care if you need it all day long.

Anyone looking on in disapproval can just go swallow a spoon because they’re not privy to what’s going on in your life and how scared/uncomfortable/sick you may be in that particular moment. I will always strive to give you what you need despite what other people may think of me for doing it.

The kids that never used a dummy to begin with are no better than you. They are just different to you. People will always compare you to other kids as you grow up – ignore the comparisons. Even the good ones.

Isn’t it amazing that we accept the fact that adults differ in their personalities, yet believe babies are all the same? I have never understood the people that push one method over all others – like sleep training, or breastfeeding, or co-sleeping, or formula feeding – because it worked for their baby and therefore should work for all babies.

Babies seem similar – they’re all pretty small when they’re born, can’t talk or walk, and have underdeveloped brains. But underneath that superficial layer of person is a complex arrangement of genes that make each baby a completely unique individual. You, my love, are a completely unique individual.

The mothers of Mamamia confess to their worst parenting moments. Post continues below...
 

I will say this to you many times in your life: what works for one person, may not work for another. You do you. And while you are still small and dependent on me – I will help you do you. In fact, even when you’re older – I will always be the one helping you do you. Because I love the you that you are and I don’t want to make you into another you.

Now, sleep tight my little gal pal. And if you lose your dummy throughout the night, don’t worry; I have another fourteen sitting on your bedside table, and a spare one on the kitchen bench.

Forever and a day,

Your Mama

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