The armrest of my living room couch is stacked with piles of parenting books – books that inform me how to play with baby, how to get baby to sleep, what foods to feed baby and when, what to expose baby to and not. From time to time, in my few weeks as a mother, I browse my collection of motherly advice from men and women before me who have traveled down the rugged road of parenthood.

But over the weeks, as my growing couch collection of books begins to build, I notice their conflictions. One book believes in letting my baby “cry it out” – the other tells me to hold my baby endlessly to keep him from tears. One directs that my baby should be in his own crib – the other tells me to nurse him as we sleep skin-to-skin. The voices of all this advice begins to rise, and slowly, I feel as though I’m crazy with the cacophony of others rather than the sound of my own clarity.

And so I decide to put the books away. As each book closes, fills the space of the bookshelf and lowers the pile on my couch, the voices begin to dwindle until I can no longer hear theirs any more – only mine. But it is quiet and a bit weak, brittle and a bit afraid. But I listen to it. I decide to allow my baby boy to sleep with me. And my voice grows louder. My son is carried on my chest, and his smile becomes contagious. I trust my decision not to enter the madness of Costco, shielding him from the bright lights and overwhelming consumerism, so we visit farmer’s markets instead. My intuition strengthens.

I think of the advice to let my baby cry it out – and I find this something I am physically unable to do. When a fretful cry arrives, I run to him, wrap my arms around him, and my motherly body releases everything it can to provide for him. We all have a voice. We all have a belief in how to parent, but we put so much power in the latest how-to article, expert opinion, or best-selling book, that we become mute to our inherent knowing. Have our mothering circles dwindled, our sage-sisters disappeared? While the words on pages offer insight and suggest parenting styles, there are secrets to be told and much wisdom to pass along from generation to the next.

I sit back this afternoon as my son naps with only a glass of water resting on my clean couch. I choose to keep its arm clear from books – and I wonder, what kind of world it would be if we led our lives, not based off the opinions and power of others, but from our own inner wisdom that is always there just ready and waiting for us to listen. May we not forget the power of our knowledge and to trust our pounding hearts that once beat alongside the tiny miracles that grew within us. We are an advanced species, forward thinking and sophisticated, but we are also as simple as any other creature; feed us, nurture us, provide for us and love us unconditionally, as would any child ask of her mother. There is no book to tell you how to do that. You will know when you stop all the noise around and lead with the heart.

 

One Response

  1. Shannon

    This is so much like what my own journey into motherhood has been. I was an insatiable researcher while I was pregnant and then… My son was in the an old fashioned NICU for five days after birth and that focused me, especially as i found out just how many of my instinct-driven things I wanted to do but wasn’t allowed -spending almost all of our time skin to skin, nursing on demand, etc – are supported by research as superior! Turns out had I been able to do what I yearned naturally to do we could’ve gone home a few precious days earlier.

    As soon as he was home, we melted in to each other and spent most of the next few months attached to each other, awake or asleep, and I did almost nothing else. I’ve been listening to my instincts with him ever since and do not regret it.

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