The mama bear instincts. They are strong. They are fierce. The truth is that we have all the wisdom we need inside of us as mothers. Do we value the input of others when asked? Of course. But the instincts we were given naturally are the most important compass that we can track our way with during the adventure of motherhood.
But so often we end up looking to “experts” and anyone else BUT ourselves to make decisions for us in how we will parent our children.
Why do we look to others? One word.
That’s what I hear most about what being a mother is like right now.
Yes there is love, growth, joy, fear, shame, guilt, discovery.
But the nature of motherhood right now as it exists in 2018 is that of struggle.
We don’t know our role. We don’t know our place. We look to society, to family, to partners, to movies, to TV, to magazines, to books, and anywhere we can to see what should define us as a good mother.
But none of those sources give us comfort.
There is an “expert” out there advocating for every single parenting and mothering style.
“Letting your baby cry it out makes you the devil!”
“Bedsharing is dangerous and creates creepy, codependent, and psychologically messed up kids.”
“Stop holding your baby you’re spoiling it!”
“Your baby should never leave your side, even when you need to take a massive dump.”
Holy cow ladies…
The feeling I feel right now even just typing that is like nails on a chalkboard. It makes my skin crawl and itch and I just want to shout at all of those voices to shut the hell up, right now!
But… What about science? Surely there are studies out there to show up the best choices to make for our children, right?
For examples, many studies show breastfeeding is awesome and increases a kid’s IQ… but then there’s a ton of criticism of those studies because there could be other factors that lead to a higher IQ in those children, like being born to wealthier families who were able to afford excellent education.
So what to do?
There is only one place to go now.
Just one person who knows what’s right. The one person who must make the decisions.
It’s time to enter the one realm of study that you can’t Google.
Yourself. Your intuition.
The Divine Mother inside of you.
I am in a bazillion moms groups on Facebook and I am shocked every single day by how many times I see someone say…
“My doctor won’t let me…”
“Baby’s pediatrician isn’t letting us…”
Let’s cut that out right now.
Your doctor, your child’s doctor, is not YOU.
YOU are the mother. YOU are in charge of your child’s care and your own.
A doctor is hopefully a trusted advisor who you can count on to give you sound advice, but let’s please knock doctors in general off their pedestal.
Yesterday in one of these groups, a mom was asking about how to keep her ONE MONTH OLD baby awake more because her doctor said she should only be napping twice in the entire day.
Any mother (or anyone who has read the most basic baby care books) knows that this is outrageous. Babies that young NEED a lot of sleep. The advice this doctor was giving was absolutely wrong.
I see this over and over and over again. Uninformed doctors giving advice that they are not trained to give.
For example, my boys’ pediatrician wanted me to supplement them with formula when they were three days old because they had lost weight.
I did not listen.
I had nursed my daughter for over two years. I knew what I was doing. (I also consulted an actual lactation consultant and my midwives too.)
The boys had lost weight, but not more than is expected for a newborn, and my milk had just come in that day. They latched beautifully and I knew they would thrive.
They are now the fattest little chubby boys you could ever see from my milk (and solids we introduced at 6 months).
This doctor’s advice was very upsetting to me because if I had not been an experienced mom who knew what I was doing I probably would have just given them formula.
(Look – I am not bashing formula. I was a formula fed baby and think I turned out pretty awesomely.)
My goal was to breastfeed. I was very committed to that goal, and if I would have just gone ahead and given them formula it could have negatively impacted the breastfeeding relationship, and crushed my supply.
I then would have beaten myself up because I would have believed I was deficient. That I wasn’t good enough. That I couldn’t accomplish the most natural thing a mother could do… breastfeed.
This is the struggle many women are in.
They question their very own worth and value as a mother because (unbeknownst to them) they got crap advice from a supposedly trustworthy authority.
This is why we must always check back in with ourselves and follow what our gut is telling us.
Take the advice of others, your own research and that gut feeling – that knowing that mothers have – and then choose.
Do not quiet your own voice.
You are the mother. You are powerful. You are in control. You are the one making decisions for your child.
No one is making you do anything. You are choosing.
Even if you agree with experts, and follow their advice… that’s great! But don’t lose your sense of agency in that decision.
Wrestling our voice and instincts from modernity is essential if we are in fact going to rise as mothers. Everything we need to make all the decisions for our children and ourselves is already living inside of us.
It’s our intuition. It’s our instincts. It’s in that archetype of the mama bear.
We already have it. All of us.
Let’s use it.