Why didn't any one tell me about how in motherhood it will be hard to tell when an issue is your child's and when that issue is actually yours? Like, this particular pain of parenthood, is it because I hurt for my daughter or just that I don't want to admit she's growing up? Or maybe someone did tell me that but I didn't listen. I was all, Sure. Sure. I hear what you're saying and I'm so totally not going to be like that. I will never be one of those parents that gives in because I can't be strong. It's all about the tough love, yo.
Okay, so maybe I didn't think that exactly but, you know, something like that.
If you read either of my previous posts (or am my friend on Facebook), you probably know what problem I am referring to. The pacifier. The wonderfully silencing, magically soothing, achingly horrible to get rid of, pacifier.
Paige turned three this weekend and we decided to take it away. The problem is, I'm not exactly sure why we decided that. I mean, I know that somewhere I heard that age three is the magic number. Like, any child that has a pacifier after three is doomed to a life of, well, I don't know what. Crooked teeth? Excessive drooling? Being made fun of? I don't know.
To be honest, I'm sure there were already people judging me for letting Paige have a pacifier that long anyway. But it didn't bother me. The pressure of potential judgements was pretty easy to brush off, or laugh off, or say, yup, she still has a pacifier and I don't care. So I guess I'm not sure why I felt so much pressure over stopping at a certain age.
The dentist. The illusive and imaginary dentist, because I did not actually talk to a dentist about it I just feel like that's what I had heard dentists supposedly say.
So, we warned her leading up to her birthday, knowing full well that it was going to be horribly hard, and the day after she turned three we took it away. Just like that. Cold turkey.
I knew that it would be horrible. For her and myself. And on Sunday when she whined on and off all day for her 'nuki' my heart broke into a million pieces. Yes, because I didn't want to admit she's not a baby, but actually mostly because I felt like it was wrong. I felt like if her security item was a blanket we would've never felt the 'need' (was it ever a need?) to take it away, so why with the pacifier? Especially because we didn't actually do any research (ie talking to a dentist) beforehand.
My husband assured me she was 'fine', but our definitions of fine are different because although she was not devastated and throwing herself on the floor, I had to sing her to sleep at nap (otherwise she was crying) and at night she whined for it until she fell asleep.
I went to bed last night and cried. Taking away her pacifier just made me want to baby her even more. I wanted to scoop her up out of her crib (even after she was sleeping) and bring her into bed with me and comfort her and tell her I love her and un-traumatize her from taking her security item away from her.
I know that makes it sound like I'm just having a hard time admitting that she's growing up, but I assure you, that is not it. I am afraid that by taking away her security item before she was ready we are hurting her emotionally or psychologically. Maybe she won't think, My parents took my pacifier away when I was three and it totally messed me up! but it is possible that it affects her. I really believe that.
So as I'm crying in bed last night, my husband told me when can give it to her at night if that's what I wanted to do. And that's what I wanted to do. Except, I also am second guessing myself. (Because somehow that seems to be my nature when it comes to motherhood.) Do I think we took it away too quickly? Yes. Do I think we should've let her keep it at night and taken our time with giving it up? Yes. Do I think we should've tried to let her give up nights herself? Yes. Do I feel like it's too late to change our minds? Kind of. Because as much as I hate to admit it, my husband was right, sort of. While I disagree that she was 'fine' she also wasn't as bad as I thought she'd be. And today she asked for it only twice.
My husband thinks we should give it another day or two. I'm on the fence. I told him tonight that if she asked for it at bedtime I was going to give it to her. She asked for it at bedtime and I didn't. I feel like a shithead. (Sorry, that's the best way I can describe it.)
Taking away her pacifier makes my heart break. Seeing her upset and not have her item that comforts her breaks my heart even more. But today was better than yesterday. So maybe she really doesn't need it? I don't know. I just can't seem to make up my mind. It's like I want someone to be able to tell me the right thing to do.
I want to just give it back to her at night, but I feel like I'm being a bad parent by second guessing myself, especially if she isn't as devastated about it as I thought she'd be. Especially if she's getting less and less upset about it.
And that is why parenthood is hard. It isn't because I have a hard time doing the right thing. It's because I don't know what the right thing is. And I just want to do right by my daughter. I want her to know that she is safe and loved and that I will comfort her any way I know how and that I will never do anything to hurt her, even if sometimes it feels like I am.
I just don't want her to hurt. I don't want to be the cause of her hurt.
(And I really want to giver her back the pacifier.)