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Suck It Up, Parents! Your Baby Doesn't Own You

Photograph by Getty Images

The past few months, I've come to notice something: A lot of grownups are way too scared of babies. I'm not talking about the uncertainty of becoming a parent for the first time or the awkward process of learning how to hold a seemingly fragile newborn. I'm talking about genuine fear of actually raising babies.

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I recently overheard a group of moms commiserating about how they're unable to go anywhere because their babies don't like riding in the car.

One mom was having a particularly hard time, "The only time I get out of the house is when my husband drives and I sit back there with her. It's driving me insane!"

The other moms offered their support (as any decent friends would). One of the others in the group then shared a story about how she had an awful time with her almost 7-month-old still waking up in the middle of the night to feed ... because she couldn't bear to try to train him to sleep without a feeding mid-sleep.

Feeling like a total jerk of a mom who everyone hates, I found myself rolling my eyes. Suck it up, ladies. This is parenting. It ain't for the weak, but the job must be done.

Most kids will (catch on) if you lead the way without caving or giving them an out just because they're whining. It's called parenting.

When it comes to being scared of babies, I'll claim myself as the prize winner back in 2010 when I found out I was expecting for the first time. I'm not ready! What am I supposed to do with her once she gets here? I'm scared to death! Before having a baby, I was petrified of the birthing process itself. Right after delivering a baby, it took me a few days to gather my bearings and not be scared to hold, feed and handle my newborn baby girl.

Once I got past the first few days, I took no prisoners. I mom-ed up and took control of that baby like a boss. The first week, the first month, the first rollover, the first sit-up and all the spit-ups in between were met with matter-of-fact willingness to follow my pediatrician's guidance, stay consistent and be strong when tough times called.

How did I put my infants on a sleep schedule? I gently woke them up if they dozed off during the day at a time when they weren't "supposed" to be napping.

How did I get my 14-pounders to sleep through the night without a feeding? I didn't feed them if they woke up at 1 a.m. out of habit (because my pediatrician told me that, biologically, their body weight could sustain through the night as long as I fed them before bed).

How did I get my 2-year-old to ditch her pacifier? I told her, "You're 2 now, and this is what happens when you're 2," and cut off the tip and toughed it out (while comforting her in other ways) through three days of hellish protest.

How did I get my 1-year-olds to ditch their bottles? I took the bottles away and insisted they drink out of something else. If they didn't want to, then they didn't drink.

My kids caught on pretty quickly; most kids will if you lead the way without caving or giving them an out just because they're whining. It's called parenting.

And, believe it or not, my daughters still love me after all that I've done.

Some kids are easier (my first-born), and some kids are more challenging (my second-born). I rolled with the punches and made adjustments and accommodations according to their personalities and different needs, but I stayed tough to make sure my kids stayed on track developmentally, according to my pediatrician's guidelines, when it came to ditching pacifiers, bottles and learning to self-soothe in the middle of the night. (I should note: My 4-year-old second-born still busts her way into our bedroom at night because she wakes up and doesn't want to go back to bed, so I'm not claiming to not have any trials or be perfect over here.)

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Is it fun to drive a car with a baby screaming from the backseat? Hell no. But, if that baby has been fed, has a dry diaper, is comfortably fastened in and perfectly healthy, then that baby needs to learn that sometimes, in life, one must ride in the car. I hear you, Baby, but this is part of life right now. They'll learn and get used to it eventually. Adults must stay strong for the sake of teaching our babies, toddlers and kids that life must be lived — and that sometimes includes riding in cars. No baby ever died from complaining over nothing. (Too harsh?)

It's not the baby's fault that you can't leave the house or push her in a stroller or can't seem to put him on a schedule. Suck it up, ladies. This is parenting. It ain't for the weak, but the job must be done. Our children need us to lead the way from the beginning, not the other way around.

Why? Because we smarter than we think, we're capable and we've most likely done stuff that's a heck of a lot more challenging.

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