It's her crutch—our crutch. And sometimes, as a mother, you need and deserve a crutch to lean on.
I was so nervous to say it, I almost hoped they wouldn't ask at all. If they didn't ask, maybe I could just keep it to myself, not mention it at all. I wouldn't be lying, I'd just be omitting.
But then, once we were seated, I just blurted it out. They didn't even bring it up. I did, like some sort of self-sabotager. They had been asking my child what color toothbrush they wanted, for goodness sake, and there I am basically shouting, "OKAY, OKAY, YOU'VE GOT ME! MY CHILD IS STILL USING HER PACIFIER!".
(Or "mimi" as we call them in our home.)
This was three years ago with my oldest child—at the dentist check-up she had six months prior to this particular one, I had promised up, down, left and right that I was going to work really hard on getting my kiddo to stop using her mimi. That maybe we'd start by only letting her use it for bedtime, and we'd eventually get rid of it altogether.
But we didn't. I didn't even try that hard, to be honest. My child loved her mimi. It calmed her down. It was her comfort, her security.
It was my crutch. My helper. And honestly, sometimes you need that. Sometimes, as a mother, you need and deserve a crutch to lean on. Sometimes that looks like extra iPad or TV time. Sometimes that looks like turning an eye to thumb-sucking or how they insist on carrying a ginormous teddy bear everywhere. Sometimes that looks like breastfeeding your baby to sleep each night or lying with them in their twin-sized bed, making sure their nightmares don't come as they drift off to sleep.
Sometimes, what makes your life easier at the moment is a totally valid and 100% okay choice to make.
Sometimes, removing the weight off your own shoulders, feels nice, doesn't it?
Sometimes, recognizing that this one little thing you do or you let your child do—that is not harming or hurting anyone—is actually not that big of a deal. That you don't have to dedicate so much of your thoughts or worries to it. That it is small potatoes in the grand scheme of life and parenting.
Fast-forward to today, my almost-7-year-old doesn't use a mimi anymore. Her mimies are long gone. My big kid's teeth are healthy and they're falling out left and right. (Like, in a healthy way.) The last time she was at the dentist she did great! Gold stars all around, four-plus years of mimi use and all.
But, I did have this same deja-vu experience at the dentist with my youngest child just last week. Without being asked, I awkwardly (and insecurely) shouted out the fact that my little one still uses her mimi as a 3-year-old. Now, maybe the hygienist and dentist could tell it had already been an emotional day or maybe they noticed the dark bags under my eyes, but both of them looked at me and said, "Don't worry about it! It's okay. We just try to think more seriously about it when their adult teeth start growing it."
I took a deep breath and reminded myself—Right. It's okay. I've been here before. I've seen this play out. It is okay.
I trust that my kids will stop using mimies when they are ready to do so. When they figure out different coping skills that work for them that they can sub in for a mimi. When they understand how to calm their bodies and regulate their emotions in other ways.
When they don't need their mimi, they won't use it anymore. So why do I need to take it from my youngest now when she still loves it? At night, I like to watch Schitt's Creek in bed on my phone with my headphones in. I usually have a nice cup of hot tea beside me and my robe wrapped around me. It makes me feel calm and happy and loved.
What if my child or husband or the Life Police came and told me that TV before bed is bad for you and this is a ridiculous tea choice and you need to end this behavior right now. What if they deleted Netflix off my phone and yanked my robe off and dumped my tea? I'd feel sad and angry. It just wouldn't fly. I'd want those things back to help me unwind. I wouldn't want to find a new way to unwind when I already had a good thing going. I'll find another thing when that combo doesn't serve me anymore.
I trust in my child and I trust in my parenting that my children will find other comfort measures when their old ones aren't serving them anymore, either.
We are the ones who know our kids best. No one else. Not the old lady in the grocery store who scolds you for letting your kid use a pacifier at such an age. Not the family member who never skips a chance to comment on it. And definitely not the parenting meme you saw shaming pacifier usage in general.
We know them.
We know what works. We know what doesn't.
Using a mimi works for my 3-year-old.
If it doesn't work for someone else, well, that sounds like a them-problem, not an us-problem.
Get ready to meet you child's new favorite pacifier.
Llamas are all the rage right now, and we're pretty sure your little llama lover will adore this llama paci! This can be used for all ages, just be sure to remove the plush part for sleeping when your child is under the age of one.
Bedtime is anything but scary when they have their favorite lion by their side! This can be used for all ages, but remember to remove the plush part for sleeping when your child is under the age of one.
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