This week we return to the series: Embracing Who You Are as a Stay At Home Mom. This is Post #3.
“I threw it in the trash!”
I announced triumphantly as my husband walked in the door from work.
It was a book. Not just any book, but the parenting book I had consumed, marked up, referred to over and over, and done my best to obey.
Was I doing it wrong?
Since my experience with newborns before Jed was slim, I trusted the voice of this book over and above my own. And I liked this book because it promised everything I hoped new parenting would be. I could decide when he would eat, sleep, and play, and ultimately take charge of my day! I thought I had it all figured out, and then he came, and BAM! Reality hit.
After weeks of banging my head against the wall, I realized I had to give up trying to shove my newborn into a box that didn’t fit him. If I wanted to have any peace, I had to let go of that book. So I released what felt like was my only lifeline.
Perhaps this doesn’t sound so terrifying to you, but I assure you that’s exactly how I felt. I didn’t easily trust my own instincts. I felt much safer listening to the voices around me, the voices of supposed “experts”. Since that usually worked for me, I didn’t have a lot of practice with listening to my own voice.
Listening to My Voice
After I threw the book away, I had no choice but to slowly learn to listen to and trust my own voice. It did not happen overnight. At first, my voice was shaky, unsure, quiet, wavering. I often second-guessed myself and chided myself for not getting it right the first time. There have been many tears along the way. But many good lessons too.
The first lesson was to simply observe and respond. Along with the book, I threw out my schedule and began paying attention to Jed’s natural rhythms of eating and sleeping. I kept a journal of Jed’s habits for a few days and loosely designed a routine around his natural preferences. This worked so much better for us.
To be clear, when I run into a new parenting conundrum these days, I still consult parenting articles or books. They do have their helpful place and I’m not meaning to have you disregard them completely. But when I feel the temptation to rely on them to the exclusion of my own wisdom to solve my problems, I take a step back and weigh them. I remind myself that I am the only one who knows me and knows my son. Once I evaluate an idea alongside what I know of my family, I can take what is helpful and leave the rest.
Listening to my voice has also grown in me the confidence to find my own creative solutions. “Trial and error” is a legitimate parenting technique and even through the mistakes, we survive. I’m not going to get it right all the time, and that’s okay. My children don’t need a perfect mom. In fact, what they need is an imperfect mom who knows how to give and receive grace, and who shows them how to learn from mistakes. My children need me to be me, with my unique instincts and voice.
A Key To Finding Your Soul in the Mess of Motherhood
Learning to listen to and trust our own voices is such a foundational key to discovering who we are as moms. As we give ourselves permission to release the parenting book advice, the Pinterest perfect images, and the comparison to others, we emerge stronger and more confident to forge a way that is good for our families. Trusting our own voices enables us to care for our souls in the mess of motherhood by simply listening to its wisdom.
What have you learned about parenthood from your own voice? I’d love to learn from you in the comments!