I've had this post percolating through my brain for a little while now. It's a bit of a departure from my usual fare of crafts and cute children. I feel really strongly about these issues and I hope I can express my thoughts clearly.
I read a few mummy blogs (actually, they're mommy blogs mostly!) and I've started to become aware of "the mommy wars" taking place in the US recently. It seems that everyone has an opinion on every aspect of child-raising, whether they've had their own children or not. And the result of this overload of information and opinion is that individual mummies feel overwhelmed and under-prepared to mother their children the 'right' way.
Children are just like adults, but smaller and with much poorer impulse control - you can see their personalities from the moment they're born. Some babies come out screaming, shocked and angry. Some cry from fear or discomfort; it's cold and bright out here in the world. Some are silent, regarding us with wide eyes and prompting their parents to ask if they're ok. Some reach for food, some just want a cuddle. Every baby is different, from the moment they are born. And if I could give a new mother just one piece of advice, it would be that no one will know that baby better than you.
That knowledge should bring confidence, a positive place from which to meet the world. It should make the challenges of parenting less unsettling, more reachable.
From time to time since I became a mother, I've forgotten that the person who knows my children best is me. (My husband is a full-time, hands-on dad who loves his children wholeheartedly and knows them better than anyone else but you can't deny the effects of being with your children all day everyday.) Isaac has been a mostly straight-forward baby and a mildly challenging toddler. Anna has fitted into our lives beautifully. I'm so thankful for the blessings we've received in our children! But every child comes with their challenges. Anyone who tells you their child is a complete angel is lying, or hasn't hit that challenge yet.
Our challenge with Isaac has been bedtimes; I was planning to give you a bit more detail but it's turning into a post all of its own. Suffice to say that I knew my baby but I ignored his cues to follow my beliefs about 'proper parenting' and it was a huge failure. These days, we've evolved a style that suits all of us and we're making forward progress. And that's enough. Parenting is about the long term after all and this too shall pass.
It's ok to share your problems. It's ok to ask for advice. It's ok to admit that you feel overwhelmed and out of your depth. It's ok to ask if this is normal, if that is healthy, if other children do it too. Talking about things makes them smaller, reminds you that you're not alone and encourages and strengthens you.
But know this; you are enough. God brought you this child, at this time, to parent as only you know how. You will make mistakes, everyone does. But no one else knows your child like you and no one else can be the mother (or father) that you are. And that's enough.