Rules Are Meant To Be Broken.
by Laura Lowell
Rules are meant to be broken.
What keeps me sane, might make you crazy. What you think is heaven, might be my personal version of hell. It is the same with working motherhood. The idea behind 42 Rules for Working Moms is to gather the hard learned lessons from a lot of different women and share them with others so that we all feel better about our lives, our choices and our successes as working moms. What you read here each week might be just the thing you have been looking for, or you might give it a try and think to yourself, “What was she thinking?”
This was exactly what I thought at 2 a.m. one morning, while surfing a chat room for moms who couldn't get their kids to sleep. My daughter was about 9 months old. I had returned to work full-time and hadn't had a full night's sleep since she was born—an all too familiar tale. I read every book I could on “How to get your child to sleep”—everything from “cry it out” to “silent return to sleep” to the “family bed.” Nothing worked for us. I was on chat rooms and bulletin boards. I was a wreck, my husband was a wreck, and our daughter could have cared less. She was only nine months old and would take two or three naps during the day.
I went to the pediatrician. He gave me a big hug, asked me how I was doing, and I began sobbing— again, an all too familiar tale. I explained what was going on, and the first words out of his mouth were, “Stop reading all that stuff.”
His point was that everyone has different opinions. You know your child, your family and yourself. Take the ideas that make sense to you and give them a try. If they work, great; if not, chuck 'em out and try something else. When my daughter moved into her “big-girl” bed, I decided it was better for everyone if I just lay down with her. It only took a few minutes, and she was sound asleep. The only problem was, most nights so was I. I'd wake up in her bed at 10:30 p.m., and the evening was gone. I had done nothing on my “list of things to do when she is asleep.” Hrumpf.
When my second daughter was born, I was ecstatic. She was healthy and happy. Selfishly, I was looking forward to applying the lessons I learned with our first daughter. I wouldn't make the same mistakes twice, I confidently told myself. Indeed, I'd make a whole new set of mistakes. Hrumpf.
What I have learned is that there are no absolutes. Nothing works for everyone. We all have different styles, different personalities, and different idiosyncrasies. Take my sister and me. I am a very organized, schedule-driven person. That is how I approach life—including parenting. My kids had schedules, and we didn't mess with the schedules. As a result, I'm now trying to teach them about flexibility and how to “go with the flow.” My sister is very intuitive and takes things as they come. Her kids have schedules too, but they are different from mine. They are not early morning people and tend to stay up later in the evenings. She manages quite well, and her kids are happy and well-adjusted. We're just different.
The ideas in this column are shared with the best of intentions. Some may work for you; others may not. You can take the ideas behind these “rules” and do with them what you will. They don't have to be followed to the letter. In fact, they can be bent, stretched, and even broken. The point is to learn from others, see what they do, get a good idea, and see what happens. You never know when a great idea might sneak up on you and make life as a working mom just a little bit easier.
Excerpted from 42 Rules for Working Moms, Super Star Press, June 2008
Laura Lowell is the editor of 42 Rules for Working Moms. Laura is an author and marketing consultant in Silicon Valley. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Los Gatos, California.