Becoming a mom is a strange journey. This is week 28 and I feel so much purpose, joy, and love within me. Most days I am completely at peace and almost in an euphoric state. Like I was built to mom. I’ve loved babies and kids since I was tiny myself and so all of this mental preparation for motherhood just feels natural to me. Occasionally I will have days where I feel uneasy about all the change that is to come. Truth be told, I am not the best with change. Never have been. Finances have to shift dramatically to accommodate a little person we are now responsible for. We have to set up maternity and paternity leave and begin looking into daycares. I am also bombarding myself with advice from all sorts of outlets to get ready for what is to come. It can get overwhelming.
There are so many different perspectives on pregnancy: what I can eat, what prenatal I need, how much I can exercise, what symptoms are normal to have, ect. Then I have all the tips on how to get ready for the baby: which diapers and wipes are the best overall, what essential furniture I need and which brands I should use, how to babyproof my house, ect. Oh, and then there is the actual birthing experience which turns out is a very hotly debated topic. Lastly, I have all the parenting techniques, bonding tips, and sleep coaching advice to sort through.
I also have to consider my sources: should I listen to a pediatrician, a Christian counselor, or a mom of 4 kids? Probably the best answer is to hear all these different opinions and then do what I deem best for my baby at the time. Nobody will know my baby girl and her needs better than me, God gave me motherly intuition for a reason. While I do want to make sure I am fully informed on the birth process and the best parenting tips, I know the most important thing is to love my baby girl with all my heart has to offer.
No matter how I feel internally, I am going to have to master showing up with love and gentleness towards her. Asking mom’s for words of advice, I consistently hear that the kids pick up on how you feel. They feed off of your energy. So, no matter how upset I feel with myself, I want to do my best to give myself grace to mess up. I want to forgive myself for days I do not have it all together and to realize that all the parent books in the world could not have prepared me for what I am facing and feeling.
Focus On the Family Radio had a couple podcasts discussing how easy it is to fall into the trap of over parenting. Here is the first one on this topic: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/episodes/broadcast/rethinking-your-parenting-strategies-part-1-of-2/ Parents often think the only way to be efficient as a mom or dad is by constantly lecturing or giving rules. Every situation does not have to be turned into a “teaching moment”. The podcast hosts were interviewing the authors of Gist: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids. I have not personally read this book but it is written by a pediatrician and a child psychologist who gave a very interesting synopsis. Co-author Michael Anderson said, “For one thing, most of the parents I work with are relentless lovers of their kids. And what that leads to is they misperceive that their job is to relentlessly parent their kids…
…What our job really is, is to relentlessly love our kids enough to parent them as little as possible, and that’s not intuitive.”Michael Anderson, co-author of Gist: The Essence of Raising Life-Ready Kids
The book posits that kids are smarter than we think. Parents can lay some ground rules and then give the kids space to be independent. The podcast mentioned a football coach that said, “I like an obedient player but not too obedient”. This coach went on to explain that a player that is too obedient without ever putting up some resistance or voicing his opinion, lacks passion. The authors of Gist say the same thing about kids. Children need room to grow themselves without being micromanaged.
One woman after reading the book Gist went to her 8-year-old daughter and apologized for being a helicopter parent. Her husband and she explained to their daughter that they believed she was capable of following the rules on her own. The plan was to see what her baseline behavior was for two weeks without any intervening (unless of course, it was necessary). For two weeks she sent herself to bed, did homework on her own, and cleared her dishes. Two months later when the woman was relaying this story to the authors of Gist, she said they still hadn’t punished their daughter for breaking any rules.
Just knowing that her parents had faith in her to do the right thing, really challenged her to show that she could do what was in her best interest. Now, not every kid is disciplined to that extent, and they need much more guidance. However, it is an interesting concept that parenting too much can be harmful to a child’s independence and self-exploration. I want to be the authority in my kid’s life and she will certainly not run the household. Yet, I do love to plan and plan and then plan some more. So, I am going to be extra cautious not to take things so seriously, and to be more lighthearted.
I will coregulate my child’s emotions without controlling her experiences.
I hope this post was a helpful reminder that life is unpredictable and so are the little humans we create. To some degree, their developmental stages can be anticipated but kids can not be put in a box. Each child is unique and I have heard many moms say their child prefers one bottle or baby swing to another. So, here is to finding a balance between not going into this parenting thing blindly and also being gentle with myself when I do feel completely clueless despite my best efforts!