I’ve been a mom for almost three years now and I feel like this morning, it all finally clicked for me.
When I was pregnant with the iToddler, I was full of ideals. My pregnancy was obnoxiously perfect. Perfect weight gain, perfect diet, perfect activity level. Perfect glow on my perfect skin from under my perfect, shiny hair.
I had perfect ideas ::
I would have a natural birth.
In a birth center.
I would wear her.
And co-sleep with her.
And use cloth diapers.
And use an alternative vaccination schedule.
And make all my own baby food.
And because we didn’t know her gender, if she was a boy, we would not circumcise.
I read some books, but not many. I was overwhelmed with information and sort of fell into all the theories and methods and philosophies that I saw most readily in classes at The Midwife Center.
Pretty soon, I heard that what I wanted to do had a name…called Attachment Parenting. So without further research, I just started saying that’s what I was doing.
But really, I didn’t have a clue. I was just doing what it seemed like I ought to be doing based on what I saw being done by other parents who seemed to look like me.
As time went on, we did a lot of those things. We succeeded at some, failed at others, scrapped others altogether because they just didn’t work for us.
I gave birth in a hospital. With a midwife and drugs. I co-slept for 6 months and breastfed for 23 months and used cloth diapers for a little more than a year before we switched her to disposables. She got standard vaccines on a standard schedule. Sometimes I wore her. Sometimes she sat in a chair and watched me. Sometimes she ate freshly mashed avocados and sometimes she got Earth’s Best, or [ gasp ] Gerber’s.
I defended my choices.
I doubted myself.
I looked to others for approval.
I made excuses.
I judged others for not doing things the way I was doing them.
I judged them because something wasn’t going perfectly and obviously that was their fault.
Because clearly I was right, even though I didn’t really know why.
I was ugly.
She slept perfectly from the moment we got her home. 12 hours at a time. I’d pick her up in the middle of the night and she’d nurse while sound asleep. When it was time to move her into her crib and wean her off the swaddle wrap, it was effortless. She’s never regressed.
We were accidental geniuses.
We knew it all, instinctively.
We rocked this parenting gig.
My pregnancy with BAM was anything but perfect. I was very heavy. I could barely walk from a pelvis injury very early on and was in physical therapy twice a week. I ate nothing but pork and wings. I had horrific anxiety and needed to go on Zoloft (take THAT, Tom Cruise). I had previa that required rest for a long time. At one point, they thought my gall bladder had to come out. Another time, they thought I had a tumor on my kidney.
And eventually, he arrived 3 weeks early and ended up in the NICU after a drugged up, far-from-perfect, F-word filled, and not even remotely dignified labor.
I barely had time to think. When I went into work that day, I fully expected to go shopping with my friend Tink that night. I intended to work on pulling the nursery together that weekend. I intended to work from home for the next 3 weeks until he arrived.
And then there he was. Early.
And there were questions and assumptions in the flurry of activity that followed.
No, please don’t circumcise him.
No, please don’t give him formula.
No, please don’t give him a pacifier.
No, please don’t give him the Hep B shot.
Yes, please wake me up any time of the day or night to feed him.
Yes, I’m serious.
No, I don’t need to rest. Call me and I will feed him.
Since bringing him home on December 6, I haven’t put a ton of thought into most things. It’s not the same as with iToddler. In the beginning I called this “2nd-baby-laziness” or the “two-baby-crazies”. This morning, though, it clicked for me.
This is my coming-of-age.
This is where I so naturally and organically mesh with my babies that I just know what they need. This is where I am so comfortable in my own decisions and choices for MY family, that I don’t have to make excuses or judgements. This is where I learn from the lessons of humility that God placed before me time and time again over the past year.
This is where I take a deep. breath. and stop explaining myself. Stop comparing myself to other moms.
Because my babies and my marriage are the greatest items of personal and spiritual stewardship that I have. My God entrusts me with these delicate and precious lives and He hasn’t left me on my own to figure it out.
He’s given me community.
He’s given me instinct.
He’s given me His spirit.
This morning, I posted an update on BAM’s sleeping “problems” on Facebook. We had moved him back into our bedroom after a failed attempt at moving him into his own space. I was so thankful to have him back and was very pleased that he seemed comfortable too. He had only woken five times, and only to eat. He and I, we seemed to finally have a night where we were in sync.
I got a response immediately, and I was hurt by the sentiment. Although the person intended to be helpful and loving, the message I received was loud and clear:
You are not doing something right. This is not normal.
Immediately I wrote a response on why the advice was so wrong and bad and whywhywhywouldyouevensuggestthat?
And that’s the precise moment it clicked.
I cried. I told Sean how I felt. I talked through it all and realized that grace. Grace. It extends not just to me, but to my friends and family. It extends to my children. I don’t just receive it :: I need to pour it out.
I deleted the post. I rejected, in my heart, the opportunity to take the advice as anything beyond what it was meant to be :: a well-meaning suggestion to try to help us all out.
I don’t need to explain myself. I don’t need the validation from an established method or the consensus of a group of people. I just need to know my babies and trust the gut God gave me. And I need (and LOVE) the encouragement and ideas of my community of friends and family along the way, even if I don’t necessarily agree with their proposed solutions.
Today I realized that even though I might look like that mom, I can’t be defined by any philosophy or book or methodology or anything. I’m just Jen, mom to iToddler and BAM. Wife to Sean. And I make my decisions with my brain and my heart.
And that? That’s pretty close to perfection.