The Tightrope Walker – Part 2

Today’s post on The Power of Balance is the second in a four-part series from The Power of Moms author Amanda Hamilton Roos. Read Part 1 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here

tightrope walkerThis week we’ll continue to discuss the Amazing High-wires of Motherhood.

The Third Act: Listening to the good advice of others and following your own motherly intuition.

With my first baby, I knew it was a boy. His name was seared in my brain. When the baby kicked, I pictured a little rough and tumble boy. I had visions of walking into the house and seeing “my boys”: a dad and his baby wrestling. And then the baby was a girl. I joking said, “Well, obviously I have no motherly intuition!” and loved her completely. When baby number two came around, I knew it would be a girl. I had visions of sisters, fighting and laughing and loving each other. He was a boy. Finally, the third time around, I just couldn’t believe that I really couldn’t trust my motherly feelings and believed I was having a girl. Then, we had the ultrasound. Well, what do you think?

See, I have motherly intuition in reverse.

We mothers can get so down on ourselves and so focused on the times we got it wrong, that we forget that our biggest strength is ourselves. As April Perry wrote, your children need you. You do have motherly intuition (maybe in reverse, like mine) and you do know what’s best for your kids. The trick is to listen to it.

When we tell my oldest daughter about the day she was born, we always end with, “And, incredibly, they let us take you home even though we had no idea what we were doing!” But we did. We didn’t know how to survive the night but we knew to love her and protect her and treat her like a person who would be in our lives forever. We knew to approach parenting thoughtfully and patiently. We didn’t know when a baby eats solids or how to swaddle but we knew to hold her, a lot.

And we knew we would have help. There are so many wonderful resources for a mother. You can surround yourself with good mothers and fathers, grandparents, friends. You don’t need to go it alone. There is so much collective parenting wisdom out there. Don’t ignore it.

But there is also a lot of bad parenting advice out there. And when it doesn’t resonate with you, it’s ok to not follow it.  For me, I found my balance when my kids were starting school. We were living in Mexico at the time and in the town in which we lived, most kids start school, full time, at three years old. That did not jive with me but I was a new mom, living in metaphorical and literal foreign territory and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to do what was best for my daughter and I wanted to feel good about it. That didn’t happen. I started her in school and she was miserable and I was miserable, not just because she wasn’t adjusting but also because I felt betrayed. I was going against the little voice inside of my heart that said, “This isn’t right!”

As we’ve seen, I do things in reverse and so I learned how to find my balance from losing it. Now it is time for my son to start kindergarten. He is five but I don’t think he’s ready. So we’ll wait another year and my heart says, that’s ok.

In Tightrope Walker Part 3 we’ll ask the question: How do you walk the line between being the “Mom” and also having a true parenting partnership?

Question: How have you found your “motherly intuition”? What advice would you give to someone who is doubting herself?

Challenge: Write a letter thanking someone who has been a guide to you in your mothering. Stick it in the mail. You won’t regret it.)

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Comments

  1. Anna Jenkins says

    I haven’t read Part One but will now! Great article, Amanda. I wonder about my intuition as well. Sometimes I think my husband accidentally got it, but once in a while something makes it through to me!

  2. Tenille Eyre Cundick says

    Both my husband and I studied Child Development, and we have discovered that more often than not – the parenting advice in magazines can be very misleading. What we know most from our studies is actually that there are many ways to do the right things for children – love really is always the key factor. That, and a balance between discipline and understanding – aka authoritative parenting. I’m not always great at following my intuition – but I think even that is a learning process.

  3. jlpgunter says

    I started listening to my motherly intuition last spring and began following my own advice last summer, shortly before my son turned 4. I had allowed my inlaws to overstep so much since my son’s birth that they had begun seeing themselves as his parents and began treating me like the babysitter who took care of him at night. I had to put my foot down, with my husbands full and complete support, to stop their constant daily interaction with our son in order to establish our family as a family. And while my inlaws think I am evil for it (and no that is not an exaggeration), our immediate family has never been stronger or more loving. I am so glad I listened to and acted on what I knew in my heart was right for our family. And we will definitely continue the separation when our 2nd son is born in November, so that we don’t start the cycle all over again.

  4. says

    As babies, both of my children needed to be held essentially all of the time. They could only sleep either in my arms, in a baby carrier, or with me lying next to them. They wouldn’t eat what other babies would eat. Their motor milestones weren’t developing the way other babies’ were. And I kept hearing again and again that it was because of what I was doing that they were like this. That if I’d just put them down and let them cry, they’d learn to not cry on the floor, learn to sleep on their own, etc., etc. I’d insist that we had tried that and that it didn’t work, but I was rarely heard. I learned a few months ago that both of my children have a sensory processing disorder. This explains their extreme neediness. And though I doubted myself millions of times over what I was doing and still feel exasperated almost daily when people suggest I am simply doing it “wrong”, I’m glad that despite feeling judged, I’ve been able to stick to my guns and give my children what they need, even if it’s not what someone else’s baby might need. I can’t imagine how stressful my life would be if I had chosen to do what others told me to do, knowing that my gut said it wasn’t for us.

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