Monday, November 21, 2011

Trusting Myself

Out of all of the definitions listed in the picture above, my favorite is number 4.."A woman who creates, nurtures, protects, etc." For quite some time, my husband was trying to encourage me to stop reading about being a mother and just go with my instincts.  He'd say, "Don't you trust that you have motherly instincts that are enough to care for your child?" My response was, "I want to be educated by other people who have been through it before and glean good advice before I have to mess up first." Essentially, in a nutshell, my answer (though I didn't realize it) was "No, I do not trust that I have motherly instincts."

And through this, I slowly realized I wasn't having much faith in myself as a mother! There are countless books, articles, resources, etc. with styles of parenting and tips to raise a happy, healthy child.  I was inundated with information that was making me feel increasingly INSECURE as a mother.  For example, I'd put my child in a bouncy seat or swing while he rested there peacefully only to read or hear somewhere that bouncy seats and swings are not natural and should not be used.  "Oh no! My child is in a bouncy seat.  I am a bad mother." 

Most of this is associated with attachment parenting of which Dr. Sears (who I whole-heartedly admire) is a huge proponent.  It is becoming very popular with people of my generation.  I am not totally knocking it as I know people who practice it and love it for themselves and their families. BUT it is getting to the point where it is making people who are just normal mothers feel like they are bad mothers.  The more I'd read from the AP point of view, the more I'd second guess myself and fear I was ruining my child! 

Through this, I came across many other moms who had similar struggles with it.  They started to feel that because they didn't want their child on or with them at all times, they weren't as loving or matronly as other mothers who did.  And we are led to believe that our children will not be as happy well-adjusted members of society if we do not raise them this way.


I seriously had to teach myself that as a mother doing what I do for him with the intent of wanting what is best for him is just fine.  I am not a negligent mother whose child is suffering.  Anyone can see by the smiles across his face that he is happy and well-adjusted.  Somebody does not need to step in and tell me how bad it might be for my child to sit in a swing or play alone for awhile.  I noticed that I lost perspective and I had to get it back for myself.

When he was first born, I was told that babies only cry when they need something.  So, you need to respond quickly so they feel secure.  I feel that isn't 100% correct either, why?

When my baby was born he cried when
  • he was picked up--he didn't understand the feeling
  • he had a diaper change
  • he had his first bath (actually he screamed for that)
Was he crying because he needed something? No.  He was crying because he felt something and he either didn't understand or didn't like it.  Under the mentality that babies cry because they need something and you must address it, then you need to stop changing diapers, giving baths, or doing anything that the baby might not like.

I am sharing this because I really was going insane operating under this mentality and I had to sit back and think about it to understand it.  Sometimes, they cry because they need something, but it isn't because they know they need something.  It is because they know they FEEL something.  They feel hungry, tired, wet, or just generally unsure.

I changed my perspective with this because you know I have found the more I am calm showing my child that the things he is unsure of or afraid of are really not scary leads to less crying.  Bath time, for example, once seemed like a torture chamber.  But we kept doing it and I would always be calm and happy instead of taking him out of there saying "oh it's okay." Now, bath time is his favorite time of the day.  He always enjoys going in the bath.

When he was first in his crib, he didn't like it, but I had to show him it wasn't a bad place.  If he just didn't go in there because he didn't like it, then I am just following his lead. Instead of me teaching him, he is teaching me--and that is backwards because he is the one who doesn't know about the world and has fears of things just because they are different. He went in there when it wasn't nap time to play.  Now, when he gets up in the morning, he is smiling.  He has discovered the crib is a fine place to be.  In fact, he sleeps better without Mommy and Daddy making noise at night.

So, I just had to let this out because myself and countless other woman should not feel like we are bad mothers because we have not ascribed to a parenting style.  We should not feel as though our children won't be as well off as others.  And I wouldn't be posting this if I didn't know a lot of people (including myself) who have struggled with it.

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