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.