Monday, November 16, 2009

Journey in mothering

I've been a mother for nearly a decade. A decade! That's a mighty long time. Well, to me, anyway. :o) During the last 10 years, I have learned a lot. Mothering has been a journey. I think the single most important thing that having children has taught me is to trust my instincts. Forget what the books say. I am the only expert when it comes to raising my children. Well, Dave is to some extend, but let's face it, I'm the one who spends the most time with them. :p When it comes to labels, I suppose I would fall under the category of what some call "attachment parenting". I think I prefer to call it "instinctive parenting". Over the years, I have learned to trust my own instincts enough to drop parenting practices that are often considered important, or convenient, or beneficial for fostering independence, or whatever. Take, for example, the cry-it-out approach to sleep training. There came a point where it just didn't feel right. While everyone seemed to be telling me that it was important for my children to learn to put themselves to sleep, it just didn't feel right to put them in a room, close the door, and let them scream for however long it took for total exhaustion to set in. Or for them to give up on you. So, sleep training is no longer practiced at our house. Sure, there are mornings I wake up wondering whether I ever even went to sleep, but ultimately, it's worth it to me. Another one of those practices that just "feels right" is allowing the kids to breastfeed past the age of one. What's so magical about the first birthday, anyway? Breastmilk certainly doesn't lose its nutritional value overnight, and I feel allowing the child to set the pace when it comes to weaning is beneficial in more ways than just nutrition. I think I have come to a point in life where I look at "mainstream" parenting practices, and I can't help but wonder why? Why are we in such a hurry to make kids grow up? Why do we think we need to teach them independence by sticking them in a crib in a dark room and making them scream when they're just a few months old? In many ways, trusting and following my instincts when it comes to mothering has been really liberating. It has removed a lot of stress from my life. Instead of looking at children as mini adults and expecting them to behave as such, I am learning to look at them and take them for who they are. I am learning to respect their needs, instead of forcing on them my perception of what their needs should be. It is an ongoing process, of course. Today, I know I am not the same person I was yesterday. I am constantly striving to be a better mother, and to be able to better help my children become the best they can be. Throughout this journey, I have had the priviledge of getting to know and learning from other mothers. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to make friends who are wonderful moms to their children, and who inspire me to do better, and be better. One of these mothers who is a true inspiration to me is Arianne. We only knew each other for a short time when we lived in Logan, but it has been wonderful to keep up with her through her blog, Still Parenting. She blogs about her own journey in mothering, in raising and teaching her children. I know it's going to be a good day when I open up my google reader and see a post from her. :o) My hope is that I will be able to continue to learn, to improve, and to get to know my children better each day. After all, they are the most important thing in my life, and raising them is the most important thing I will ever do.

4 comments:

Frugal or Cheap? said...

I enjoyed reading your "deep thoughts" :). I especially appreciate the principle of "trusting your instincts" as a mother. For the cry it out issue for us, neither of us has felt right about letting Tanner cry it out. However, taking all things into account, we did feel right about it with Austin because of circumstances at the time. I don't think it's always necessarily the specific choices we make as parents, but the principle of doing what we know is best for our children and families, and trusting the instincts Heavenly Father has placed within us as stewards of His children. Parenting and mothering are hard and we often make mistakes, but I know that if we're doing our best and turning to Heavenly Father when we don't know what to do, things turn out :)

Doreen said...

Exactly Nicci! I have also found that each of my kids is so different, and what works (or has worked) with one, doesn't necessarily work with the others. I think that's why I like calling it instinctive parenting. You just do what feels right, and what feels right for one may not necessarily feel right for the others. What is right for me and my family isn't necessarily right for others and their families. Moving away from a set of expectations (does the baby sleep through the night yet? how many minutes of time-out do you use? etc. etc. etc.) and instead trusting my own intuition has been the best thing I've ever done. :o) I guess I could call it intuitive parenting, too. That sounds even better. haha :p

Amanda said...

Speaking as a mom who loves the Ferber method, I still agree with you guys. All kids are different and moms have to figure out what works best for their kids. We did cry it out and it worked after two nights and Adria never cried more than 15 minutes. Of course 15 minutes seemed like an eternity at the time and Drew almost had to restrain me. But I say if it does not work in the first week, move on, your kid needs a different approach. I have learned so much and have learned to trust my instincts, so the next kid should be a snap right? hehe.

Doreen said...

Yeah Amanda, keep telling yourself that. ;o)