Being on holiday and having more time for musing, I have found myself thinking about what motherhood has meant to me, what I think has helped me to be the best mother I can be and what could possibly help other women and men be the best mothers and father they can be.
My experience of motherhood has been about the most complete experience that I have had to date. It touches on absolutely every aspect of my life, from how I wake up in the morning, to the food I eat, to how I interact with the people around me, how I choose to clean my home, where I choose to spend my time – in short everything. And of course how I choose to keep my family healthy. Being a mother has called me to be my authentic self, while being open to having my assumptions challenged.
Before I was even pregnant and while I was pregnant, I held fairly strong convictions about what babies needed. And the thread connecting my various ideas was along the lines of getting babies used to the reality of being independent and self sufficient with some sort of belief that the sooner this happened, the better for the baby and the parents. Kind of like proactive parenting, preventing problem behaviors before they start. Things like sleeping with your baby and breastfeeding on demand sounded like very dangerous ideas, choices that would leave the parents unhappy and unable to cope with an overly demanding and spoilt child.
The day I gave birth, in a private home birth left free to birth as was comfortable for me in tune with my body and my baby, was the day that these assumptions started to crumble.
My intuition told me to have my baby close to me night and day. It took some months for me to have the confidence to listen to my intuition and not worry that I was spoiling my child. And myself and my son have just blossomed under the care and support from my husband and me choosing to feel my way forward in my choices, rather than let an expert tell me what my child needs (often in a book).
In our family breastfeeding on demand and sleep sharing (in the same bed) are working. Our son is just so happy and content. We have found a way to be the best parents we can for him. And I think part of why it is working is because I have left my intuition to do its work – and have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye on experts who try to sell their theories and experiences. No one knows my child as I do, and no one has the same responsibility for my child like I do.
So back to my musing…. just like there are some experts who believe that by starting a child out on early reading and writing, you make a better reader and writer out of that child, so there are experts who believe that by getting an early start on being independent for a more independent child.
I beg to differ.
I do not subscribe to the belief that earlier reading and writing make for better readers and writers. I also do not subscribe to the belief that scheduling little babies and children or training them to sleep or eat on an adult friendly schedule will make the child more independent. These are linear ways of looking at babies/ children and their needs. And I think is a disservice to meeting their needs in a developmentally appropriate way. Not to mention depriving the baby/child of the opportunities that actually foster healthy development – ie in arms/sling makes much more sense for the developing baby than a play pen does…. but that is a whole other topic that one day I hope I have the time to delve into. Looking at the development of the proprioceptive and vestibular systems.