This is post #3 in the series: How to Find your Way as a Stay at Home Mom
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?
I trusted the advice of this book to show me how to arrange my life as a new mom. Following it loyally to the letter, I trusted its advice over and above not only my own intuition, but also the advice of my postpartum nurses and veteran mom friends. I clung to this book because it promised everything I hoped new parenting would be. It tantalized me with the temptation to control how my baby would eat, sleep, and play. Ultimately it allured me to take charge of my day! I read this book from cover to cover, dog-earring and highlighting it so that I would master motherhood when it came. But then it came, and BAM! Reality hit. All of my best laid plans laid waste.
After weeks of banging my head against the wall, trying to shove my newborn into a box that didn’t fit him, I gave up. I realized that if I wanted to have any peace, I had to let go of that book and all its empty promises. 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. Trusting my intuition has never come easily to me. I feel much safer leaning on the “expert” voices around me. Because this had usually worked for me, I didn’t have a lot of practice with listening to my own inner voice.
Relying on my Own Intuition
I wanted something or someone to tell me how to do this mom thing, but I felt I had no choice but to slowly learn to listen to and trust my intuition. But I was out of practice so at first my inner 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.
One of the most important lessons I learned was to simply observe and respond to my baby. It sounds so obvious, but for me it was a new thought. Instead of listening to other people tell me how to mother my child, I looked to my son to teach me how to care for him. Instead of grasping for control, I submitted to the vulnerable place of surrendering my plan to the unknown territory of mothering a newborn. As I began paying attention to Jed’s natural rhythms of eating and sleeping, I kept a journal of Jed’s habits so that I could loosely design 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. 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 of what I know of my family, I can take what is helpful and leave the rest.
Listening to my intuition 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 voice, personality, and methods.
Intuition is Key To Finding Your Soul in the Mess of Motherhood
Learning to listen to and trust your intuition is a foundational key to finding your way as a mom. As you give yourself permission to release the parenting book advice, the Pinterest perfect images, and the comparison to others, you will emerge stronger and more confident to forge a way that is good for you and your family.
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