I’ve heard it said recently that the inciting incident for every story is either the beginning of a journey or a stranger coming to town. In the case of parenting, I think it’s both.
Our journey began about four years ago when my husband said to me, completely nonchalant and out of the blue, “Let’s have a baby.” My heart started pounding, and a list of excuses as to why we weren’t ready began pouring out of my mouth. He insisted that the time was right, and that if I always submitted to my fears, we would never have children. A huge argument and many tears ensued. Long story short, our son Levi was born almost nine months to the day later. And everything changed.
The most difficult part of parenting for me was not adjusting to lack of sleep or breastfeeding or dealing with a crying infant. Levi was an easy baby and I took to motherhood pretty easily. What was not easy was wading through the swamp of self-doubt about my parenting choices. And that tedious journey began the night we came home from the Birth Center:
Do I let him sleep overnight in that rock-n-play thing? I read they shouldn’t sleep in it for long periods of time, but I want him near me when he’s sleeping and the pack-n-play across the room seems terribly far away…I guess I’ll try it and pray he doesn’t die of SIDS.
He’s crying…what time is it? Oh, no, he woke up before his scheduled feeding time. I guess I’ll try to rock him back to sleep… Uh oh, not working. I guess I’ll feed him? Is this ok?! The midwives would say so, but that book my sister-in-law recommended said to stick to a schedule…
What a freakin mess. And that was only the beginning.
Over time, I came to realize that I was nearly always in a state of inner conflict. In one corner was Maternal Intuition and in the other, So-and-So-Said. So-and-So was certainly the stronger opponent. I was constantly frustrated by the amount of opposing opinions about everything. I just wanted to do the right thing, and everyone had a different opinion about what the “right thing” was and warned that if you did the “wrong thing”, your kid was going to turn into some horrible human.
With the support of my husband, I began to listen to intuition and do what felt right. At first, it felt like I was betraying reason, and I was constantly looking over my shoulder as I would go rendezvous with my instincts. But the more I did it, the more I realized that my intuition was actually more reasonable than reason itself and it was completely worth trusting.
Doubt would still creep into my mind, and I would sit Intuition down and look at her in the eyes and say, “Do you really know what you’re doing? Because So-and-So says ____________.” And Intuition would graciously smile at me and say, “Listen, does So-and-So know and care about your child as much as I do?” to which I would always answer, “No.”
For whatever reason, I think most of us feel insecure about our role as parents. There’s no required training, no Parenting 101. I think deep down, a lot of us are afraid of parenting. We are afraid we are going to lose our own identity. We are afraid that our kids won’t love us. We are afraid we are going to raise horrible humans. We are afraid we will fail.
With a mindset like that, it’s no wonder we listen to the So-and-So’s. It’s a miracle I learned to trust my instincts.
When I became pregnant with our second child, and someone asked me if we were going to make any major alterations to our parenting plan with baby number two, I could say with confidence that no, I wasn’t. We had found our parenting style and it was working for us.
We haven’t arrived, of course. I know better than anyone the importance of flexibility when it comes to parenting, and I will probably change my mind a thousand times by the time I’m done parenting, which is…well…never. But I’m confident that the choices we have made are good, at least for us. And I can thank Intuition for that.
A few weeks ago, while driving home from a memorial day picnic, my husband said to me nonchalant and out of the blue, “Let’s start a blog.” I felt my heart start pounding. I felt fear take flight in my stomach, and I got ready to argue. But experience has taught me that, as much as I hate to admit it, my husband is usually right about these things.
The time is right.
The point of this blog is to encourage, inspire, support, challenge, and, above all, to come alongside you on your own unique journey. I don’t assume that it can do all these things, but I’m hopeful that it might. If I can share my story, struggles, resources, and knowledge so it can benefit another, then I want to do that.
The thing is, I’m kind of frightened of this. I don’t want this blog to become your version of So-and-So-Said. I don’t want my opinions or observations to be offensive or the source of shame in your life. That is the exact opposite of my intent.
On a personal note, I’m also afraid this blog will interfere with my own parenting. I’m afraid neglecting my own children because I’m suddenly pursuing something I want to do. So I’m working at establishing firm boundaries for myself: blog stuff can only happen when my family is sleeping or in the care of someone else. Which is why I may not be able to interact with you, dear reader, as much as I may like.
But my intuition is telling me that I should do this. So I’m going to.