We have to adjust our thinking sometimes to fit reality. A good example from the archives of my life? Breastfeeding.
In the beginning, I was a La Leche League lunatic and well-versed in the benefits of breast milk. I planned on nursing Jake and Zach for at least a year. I started off strong with the pump, the boppy pillow, and the coordination to nurse them at the same time while changing channels with the remote control.
And we all know I’m a big fan of public nudity.
During his frequent visits to Boston, before we moved home, Stepdad often thought he was back on the farm in Wisconsin. When I wasn’t nursing, I pumped round-the-clock to make sure there was always a steady supply in the fridge.
I enjoyed it, for the most part.
My boys, however, did not.
We lasted twelve measly weeks.
When they first started screaming, at three months of age, I immediately read up on the issue and talked to other nursing mothers. I altered my diet. I stopped eating tomatoes, garlic, my mom’s cabbage dish and anything else that might cause them gas or discomfort.
It didn’t matter. Jake and Zach were in such distress that I began to wonder about future therapy sessions when they’d surely blame me for an aversion to titty bars.
I yelled at friends, Marc, and anyone else who dared to mention the F word: formula.
Then Stepdad said, “Just adjust.”
During one of my hysterical phone calls, with two uncomfortable and colicky babies in the background, my mother said, “Katie, listen to me. God or science or whatever you people believe in this month, gave us the ability to help ourselves in situations like this. Formula might be easier for your children to digest. If it doesn’t hurt their tummies or cause gastrointestinal distress, where is the harm?”
She’s a nurse. Couldn’t curse her out with a clean conscience. Besides, it’s important to respond well to logic and reason.
I gave it a try and for the first time in weeks, my twin infants slept through two Daily Show episodes and then five more hours.
And I no longer squirted Marc in the eye with breast milk.
As my children get older, I often think about those moments in their infancy when I had to re-evaluate my thoughts for their sake. Stepdad’s advice comes in handy when any challenge presents itself.
We shouldn’t hold on to ideas and plans, as helpful as they are, from books and experts, when our kids require something else. We can’t keep sticking our boobs in the baby’s mouth if she needs Enfamil. We shouldn’t force Little League on Junior when he really wants to dance. And we can’t keep pointing to books and experts when mom suggests a remedy that’s worked for our family for ninety years.
Blend the different lessons, use what we need, and wing the rest. Just adjust.