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.)