I was privileged to sit down with a first time mom of a beautiful baby girl, 11 weeks old. The minute she sat down, she blurted out, "I'm so anxious!" She proceeded to tell me she had come to a decision on a health care issue for her daughter that she felt good about. She told me exactly how she had come to her conclusion: motherly instinct, research, a reputable MD, and conversations with her husband. Where her anxiety came in is with all the feedback she had been getting from family, friends, news stories, and fear based headlines. Feeling like she would be shamed or judged for following her gut.
My approach with her was to encourage her to follow her motherly instinct. It will never mislead you. It is okay to objectively listen and consider what loved ones have to say (solicited or unsolicited). Ultimately, the decision is hers. She should feel confident in her choice. She doesn't need to report back on the path she took. That can be a private matter.
Just two short days later...I found myself in a conversation with a very dear friend, discussing our own decisions on how we parent. Which happens to be like night and day. I am very passionate about the road I chose to parent my children, especially in infancy. I found myself blowing the air of superiority and righteousness right in her face. Feeling like I was justified, because "my way is best".
I did not honor her motherly instinct, which I had told the new mom to follow and not apologize for. This knocked me to my knees.
I know my friend to be a loving mother. She has raised responsible, loving, giving children. I have raised responsible, loving, giving children. This could not have possibly happened if either of us had been neglectful, or without tremendous effort. We both listened to our motherly instincts, which were polar opposites of each other. They are both right. There is more than one way to peel a potato.
Those I connect with are better served when I have a willingness to support them in the conclusions on motherhood they've come to. They have very good reason for coming to those conclusions. Even if they are different from mine.
Motherhood is a very vulnerable place. We take how we mother very seriously. When we are constantly bombarded with the latest "school of thought", studies, and debates, it is easy to get lost. It feels like the world is watching and evaluating how we mother.
How can I contribute to making all moms feel more confident? By listening. Understanding. Accepting. By trusting and honoring their intuition, as I do my own.