There’s a reason we’re advised to trust our instincts. Not only for those situations where we sense out and pre-empt danger, but also as part of our self-expression as individuals. It’s been reported time and again that to grow into our personal authenticity, there’s nothing better or more necessary than to cultivate the surety of your own voice, that barometer of what is true to you. This is true for life in general and even more so on this new life long journey as a mother.
You’ll need confidence on this learn-on-the-job adventure. And in this relationship of discovery and uncertainty your gut feelings will offer the security of a starting point. This is important because motherhood is so fraught with social expectations that it can sometimes be difficult to find the time, let alone the courage to cut through the noise and listen, really listen to what we think and most importantly want.
These days there’s an expectancy of the ever unruffled, slim (within six weeks) mother with the beautifully dressed, cherubically behaved child. Mums are expected to be thinking of intellectually stimulating play activities almost as soon as they’ve had their baby. There are the silent wars between bottle feeding and breast feeding, when and whether to home cook or buy organically made first foods. Whether the buggy should be forward of backward facing? It’s exhausting, confusing and creates an anxiety that you are not good enough.
And yet motherhood is an intensely personal experience. Each mother and her baby will have different needs and circumstances. What you do with one baby will be different from the next. As a mother you are the only adult who will know your baby quite so intimately, most commonly because you have had this child grow within you since its conception. This is when your deepest attitudes of the relationship you would like to have with your child come into play. You will have some beliefs – ideas you have picked up from your own childhood, your friends, TV, your partner. That knowledge might also be that big emptiness of not knowing. And that is also absolutely the correct answer. Not knowing allows you to ask, to share, to read and then decide what makes most sense to you.
The thing to remember is to be a good enough mother. Not perfect. This isn’t a test, but a relationship. Something fluid that will grow over time. Obviously there are basic safety and nurturing aspects like keeping baby fed, warm and safe. Beyond this however, how you dress baby, what feeding equipment you do or do not use is up to you. There will be times when it might seem that nothing is going quite right – that will pass too and you will see that this was a learning curve. You’ll likely chop and change as you practice being a mother. The more practice you get the more confidence you will gain. Motherhood is a role that you grow into, and that takes time, patience and practice.