There Is No Book About You.

Dear Eldest,

When you were an infant I read books on ways to try and get you to sleep better, longer, and more. All of the ideas seemed sound. And none of them worked. They failed. Miserably.

Then when you were a toddler I read a book that made so much sense. It was written by a pediatrician who had obviously had extensive experience with children. It was full of generalizations that made sense and strategies that seemed brilliant.

I tried one of them that very day. A strategy that was supposed to show you that I understood how you felt, through imitating your actions and your language when you were upset.

It failed. Miserably.

The book went on to say that for some children it would need to be toned down. So I toned it down.

It failed. Miserably.

You taught me that for all the books in the world about all the kids in the world, there is no book about you. It’s not that you are different or weird. It is that you are you. And one of the things that makes you “you” is that you notice when I am not responding to you as you, but rather as an obstacle to a goal.

With you, and then with your siblings after having gotten to know you.. I step outside of the things that I have read written by people who have never met you. I cna get ideas and inspiration from those books, those websites, those stories that other parents tell. I can listen to advice that other give. I can seek out advice and ideas.

I can’t squeeze you through a method that has never met you and that cannot take you into account. I cannot tell you who you are and how you should respond to the things that happen all around you. I cannot form you to my wishes or my ideals. I can influence you. I can teach you. I can guide you. I can love, support, nurture and safeguard you.

You have weaknesses that I can recognize that are different from my own, and strengths that I could never imagine possessing. Your imagination gravitates to things that I could never guess at. Your heart is inspired by things that would never touch me as they touch you. You are immune to some of the things that hurt me when I was a child, but so very sensitive to some things which never bothered me.

I know you well, spending so much time with you each day. I know you well, having met you a moment after you were born from my body. I know you well having carried and fed you through your infancy and having slept by your side for your youngest years.

I cannot hold the whole of you inside of my imagination, even knowing you as well as I do. I cannot guess at the things you will feel, discover, grow into, become.

Expecting a book written by a stranger to contain the answers for you.. No..

I have to look for the answers alongside you as you are a child in my care. You will look for your own answers as you become a young adult and discover yourself.

There is no book that can contain you, no pre-imagined role that can define you.

I won’t pigeonhole you into an idea that someone else invented, it’s a waste of time. You’re not a character in a book someone else has written.

You’re a human being.

You always have been.

And I love who you are.


6 thoughts on “There Is No Book About You.

  1. Oh Sarah… The words fail me again at how wonderful your mind at heart work together. Thank you so much for this piece, it is absolutely perfect.

  2. Thank you for another wonderful post, Sarah. You are a voice of sanity in a world of baby/toddler books containing false promises.

    You have no idea how frustrated I have been with my little boy at times because he won’t do what the books say he should. He is doing what *he* should, rather than what the books say.

    It’s wonderful to read a blog like yours that reminds me that this is the way it should be, as well as the way it is, regardless of what the books may claim.

  3. *sigh* this speaks to me as I’m having a very difficult time with my 6 month old son and sleep. I’ve not slept more than 2hrs at a time since he was born save for a handful of times. I’m currently at the last stop of aids for our journey-to-sleep – a sleep doula. If this doesn’t work, no more trying. I’m just accepting that sleep just isn’t for him. Not yet at least.

  4. So impressive..those books just frustrate us and make matters worse.. I finally realise that me n my kids are just different,and their individuality should be respected..

    As a perfectionist,m feeling so low at times,when my expectations are not met..either kids fail to perform or i wont deal with patience,your words are great help always


  5. Thank you so much for this post. I have a 4 year old who wakes 1-2 times a night on good nights…but at least 10 times last night. My former boss sent me the link to your post, knowing it would resonate. My daughter is my best friend and my toughest challenge. When she was about 1.5, she tore up one of my “How to” books on parenting. I laughed, and joined in tearing it up! May our journeys ahead include more sleep and endless amounts of love.

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