By Donna Howard
For the Journal
I wondered why Lizzy kept going into the closet occasionally during the day, but I didnâ€™t think too much of it. She was about 18 months old at the time and seemed so grown up. We had a new baby in the house, and that made Lizzy seem rather old to us.
In fact, we felt like it was time to get rid of her pacifier, as we didnâ€™t really want to have to deal with two sets of them. So a couple of months after her sister was born, we told Lizzy that it was time to just let the baby be the only one with a binky. After all, she was a big girl, and she didnâ€™t need one any more. We were wrong.
Lizzy struggled with it for a while, but then she seemed to be adjusting to the change. However, I kept noticing that she went into the storage closet for a couple of minutes quite often. I thought that maybe she needed to be alone for a minute since there was a new baby in the house.
Finally, my mommy-radar kicked in, and I decided to see what was in there. When I opened the door, there sat a little stuffed bear. But this stuffed bear was a little different than most plush animals. This bear was the one we called â€śBinkie Bearâ€ť, as he had a binkie in one hand.
I felt terrible. I realized that my little daughter, who really was still very young, was so desperate for her pacifier that she would hide to use one. Our home was calm and cheerful, but she needed that comfort in her young age.
Who was I to decide that she had to fit social norms? Why should I be so focused on what people thought of my child and my parenting that I felt like I had to disrupt her comfort? Was it really so bad that she had a pacifier when she went to bed? We werenâ€™t allowing her to have her binkie when we went places, but when she is 16, who is really going to care that she had a pacifier when she was only a year old?
As parents, we often want to be the first to potty train our child, the first to help them ride a bike, and the first to teach them French. But in all reality, is all of that really necessary? Or is it more important to help our child feel loved and secure, and to help them discover the world on their own?
Life isnâ€™t a race. Life is to be lived, enjoyed, and loved.
I gave back her binkie.
Donna Howard has ten children, has raised foster children, runs a business, is a musician and composer and teaches adjunct at BYU-Idaho. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.