Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom
At a baby shower I recently attended, talk rolled around to what advice seasoned mothers could offer the guest of honor. It made me smile to see that despite our youth-obsessed culture, one that doesn't seem to place an abundance of value on the wisdom of elders, when it comes to the primal act of mothering, some of what has been learned through the ages is still true and still respected. I know that the most valuable mothering wisdom I received was about how to thrive on the good days and muddle through the daunting task of raising a child on the not-so-good days.
The advice given the mother-to-be at this shower took the form of index cards on which we wrote what we felt would be most helpful to her in the upcoming months and years. The advice was all over the map and reflected some of the personal journey each contributor had experienced, the stuff with which she had grappled in her own way and was hard-won wisdom to be shared. The advice each of us came up with wasn't innate knowledge, but things you have
to either learn through trial by fire or by being open to the wisdom of those who have traveled the path before you:
* Accept any help that is offered.
* Sleep when the baby sleeps.
* Don't read too many parenting books, trust your instinct, and take it one day at a time.
* Being a mother is the hardest job you will ever have, but it's the most rewarding.
* One minute you'll think you've got it all together and the next minute you'll feel like the worst mom in the world. You're not.
* This little being has his or her own path, and no matter how great a parent you are, there are some things you truly have no control over. Parenting is a huge exercise in learning how to l-e-t g-o.
* Trying to be your child's buddy may feel good in the moment, but there's usually a price to pay down the road. Be a parent first, a loving, caring, responsible parent.
* Always follow through with what you say you're going to do.
* In the grand scheme of things, they're only young for such a short amount of time. Put down your iPad, get off the phone, and BE there for your child. Be sure to replenish yourself as well (a good babysitter is essential!), but when you're spending time with your child, truly engage with them and connect.
Every day people are coming up with new and better ways to do virtually anything you can name, including raising a child. At the same time, some things, like the wisdom of compassion and following your own instinct, just never change -- and that is good.