We have been in a bit of a tailspin this past week. We found out that my oldest son got in off the wait list at a local charter school for Kindergarten, and we had less than a week to decide whether to uproot him from a place we loved and take a chance on something new. I sent out desperate pleas to every local group I could think of soliciting feedback on the school, talked to a handful of folks with kids there, weighed the pluses and minuses, spoke with my husband, and remained firmly torn about what to do.
As a Type-A personality, it can be difficult to come to the realization that you can’t know the future, and that you eventually just have to throw up your hands and decide. And this one is a big decision, directly impacting our son’s day-to-day life for the next nine years, plus our other two children’s lives if we put them all in the same school.
This decision, like many in parenting, forces you to confront the realization that there is often no “right” decision. Or for you glass-half-full people, no wrong decision either. You can research for weeks (or until your crazy-soon deadline hits), you can solicit advice from all your friends. But in the end, it often comes down to what your heart tells you is right. As one of my friends said, when I was explaining our (lack of) decision to her, “You have to go with what’s in your heart. Most of the decisions I’ve made that I’ve regretted have come from ignoring my heart.”
As a parent, I have had a number of times when my brain and heart have been at war, and I’ve had to choose which to listen to. The most prominent example for me happened when I was breastfeeding my oldest. I was determined to make it to a year, but at around eight months, he lost all interest. For weeks, he would bite me at least once a day, often without any warning. It was unpredictable, which made breastfeeding an incredibly tense and unpleasant experience, my finger constantly poised at the corner of his mouth to break the latch quickly if need be.
I spoke to a lactation consultant. I spoke to my go-to parenting guru friends. I googled tips and tricks to get the biting to stop. Finally, after one particularly horrendous bite, I tried one of the tips I’d heard: I put him down on the floor, said nothing, and avoided looking at him. He screamed – indignation and shock so clear in his voice, though I wasn’t allowed to look at him to see his face. My eyes, watering from the bite, began overflowing with frustration and sadness. And I finally realized – this is no longer working for us! Breastfeeding should be mutually beneficial, and this was by no means that.
Even after coming to that decision, I struggled with it. My mind really, really wanted to make it to a year. But in my heart, I knew that it was over. I continued with pumping for a while after that, but we didn’t make it to a year. (Although I did with my other two – which just reinforced for me that this was his time to stop.)
Coming up against the deadline on my son’s school choice, we decided to take a chance and go with the charter. It is still weighing on me – it’s a lot of responsibility to choose these longer paths we send our children on – but in my heart, I feel like it was the right choice. And you know what, if it’s not, that’s okay too. Listening to your heart is not a one-time thing. We will keep reassessing, we will see how it goes. We will keep trusting our parenting instincts and figure out what works best for our family.
Have you had moments like this? I’d love to hear about them, and what you did, in the comments.