Nurture, Nature, and… Harvard?

Today I start with bragging rights of “I had Harvard on my brackets”. This probably isn’t noteworthy, but I’ll brag anyways because this is my first time engaging in the March Madness Hoopla. I’m only doing it for the prizes and money, I haven’t watched a game yet and I don’t intend to start. Basketball bores the heck out of me, but winning stuff doesn’t.

Also I would like to take a minute to note the passing of Chinua Achebe. I read Things Fall Apart in college in a class about Colonialism and Literature. The class was as interesting as I’d hope, and this was one of the many fantastic novels we had to read as a part of it. I also acknowledge that if it weren’t for that class, I never would have bothered to read this and I hope if you haven’t read it, you will.

Now to business.

I sometimes wonder if children become experiments after you have your first one. You do some tweak of something you may have done the first time to see what happens with the next one. I formula fed one, fed pumped milk to the other. I did everything right during one pregnancy and pretty much everything wrong the other. One I worked several hours and the other I stayed at home. I learned something valuable from this experiment: there’s no difference in either child. Except for size, but my husband is a foot taller than my ex, so that’s more genetics than anything.

This makes me wonder if it isn’t the differences that matter, but the key elements that were the same. I raised them in as calm and loving as an environment as I was capable. I made sure that no matter what, I tucked them even if they were sleeping already. I set boundaries, I punished when those boundaries were crossed. I’m not afraid to say no, and I don’t feel guilty for it. I expect them to do their best at everything they do, and give them the opportunities and time to try to excel. How do you do this with a baby? I let him roam the floor while I stay close enough to make sure he stays safe, but allow the freedom to go where he wants safely. (Obviously, stairs are gated off and cabinets locked.) I do let him fall if it’s safe enough, catching him with pillows or my arms. I never yell, and make sure no one else does as well. I always praise my children, and tell them how to improve to do better.

This is comforting. It shows to me that it doesn’t matter if you nurse, pump, or give formula. Aside from the baby who had breastmilk was sick less often and less severe than the other, there is really no difference between the two. They are both well-mannered, happy and healthy. That’s all that matters. This means no one should feel pressures to do anything but their best, because nothing else matters.

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