Here it is, ladies. The only advice you actually need when it comes to motherhood. The only advice that means anything.
Before We Get To The Goods
I receive so much unsolicited advice regarding my child. Some was advice from people who don’t know my parenting style, my child’s cries, his temperament or whats going on behind the scenes. Some from people closer to me. Yet everyone thinks they know your kids better than you and YOU, the mom, are obviously doing something wrong.
Baby nurses frequently? There’s something wrong with your milk.
Baby doesn’t nap long? The house is too noisy.
Baby needs white noise to fall asleep? You ruined him by having the house too quiet.
Baby doesn’t sleep through the night? You need to train him.
Baby uses a soother? Good luck getting that away from her.
Baby refuses a soother? You should have forced it more. Now you’re screwed.
…and the list goes on.
Some Education For You
It is no secret that all babies are different. Look at us as adults. We are all very different. Some of us are light sleepers. Some of us can sleep through a blender going. Some of us prefer six small meals a day. Some of us would rather only two large ones. Some of us prefer morning workouts. Others would rather die. Some people wake up early. Others prefer to stay up late.
So where does this idea that all babies are cookie cutter Beings that can be navigated through like a text-book come from?
If you look at most cultures around the world (Africa, Europe, India, etc), people do not discuss motherhood like we do in North America. Women do not judge each baby to the next or one mother to the next. There is a universal understanding that babies are all different and only that child’s mother has the manual. “It takes a village”, they say, and to the Village they go.
I was chatting with a woman from Africa the other day, talking about mom stuff. I mentioned my son still nurses quite often and still 2-3 times a night and what she thought of that, given her experience with her four babies. She looked at me like I was a bit crazy and said “He’s your baby and all babies are different. No two are alike. How could I tell you what your baby needs based on what one of mine needed? Your baby is yours and I’m sure you are providing exactly what he needs”. It was like there were angels around me saying, “I told you so”. This woman was exactly who I needed to be around in that moment.
She then went on to say how women over here are so bent backwards about motherhood. So much criticism, so much judgement. No real support. Women are left to feel like they’re incapable of doing the very thing our bodies were literally designed to do. And she was right. I left our conversation feeling liberated as an intuitive mom, but also saddened and embarrassed of my past behaviours towards women and mothers.
I, too, have been one of those judgemental women. Even though I had no clue what I was talking about, I thought I had the right to express my own opinions based on crap from Judgy-Judgeville University. I’ve given unsolicited advice. I’ve looked at another woman and her child and thought maybe she should do something different. I’ve looked at members of my own family and thought “I would never do that with my kids”. (I didn’t even have kids at this point, FYI). I admit it. I’m not proud of it. And I was sad because in that moment with the African mother, I realized the negativity disguised as advice I was receiving was nothing more than a taste of my own medicine.
I’ve read 5 parenting books now. That’s right, guys. FIVE. Why? Isn’t that what we’re “supposed” to do? Look for answers to get through Motherhood like all the perfectly put together moms and families we see all over Instagram? Because obviously they know something we don’t, based on their perfectly posted lives, right?
I’m going to save you months of reading and agonizing over all the unsolicited advice you’re receiving and all the unrealistic ideals society (and maybe even your friends and family) have of you, as a mom. The message of literally ALL of these books combined is…
Follow your Mothers’ intuition.
The secret to Motherhood. We all have heard someone tell us about this magic power we possess, yet we still question what the heck we’re doing and if we’re doing it right and what we could be doing better, blah blah blah. Each book I read has its own set of rules and guidelines, but also will put hidden little disclaimers of “You know your baby best” or will give you 6 different ideas to a “problem” then follow with “but some babies are just different and only you will know what will work for them”.
I remember so many times I thought I should be doing something different to help my little guy along through the early stages of life. I let what my midwife told me/ what the book told me/ what my ex would tell me, dictate what I actually did. I went against my intuition numerous times and I deeply regret it. It wasn’t until someone else validated my own initial intuition that I actually realized it was right all along.
Many women are very good at this. They hear their inner voice guiding them and they go for it, telling anyone who questions them to kick rocks, beat it, mind your business. Looking back, I wish I was more like this in the beginning. I would have been a more confident mother, and woman, much earlier on.
So, once again, the secret to Motherhood: Follow your intuition. Become friends with it. Trust it. This is your super power. Let it guide you and you, too, will learn it is always, always, always right, no matter what anyone says.
And if that’s not enough, take it from me. Someone who’s read the books. Someone who has judged, been judged, and come out the other side. Someone who believes in you and believes you are the perfect mom for your own children. You are the only one who they once lived in and will ever know so intimately. You know better than anyone. Don’t ever second guess that.