Tuesday, May 17, 2011
a mother's compass
**DISCLAIMER** this post is real and honest and I'm laying it all out there. If your not up for that you may want to stop reading now.
....alright, I warned you.
This post has been "sitting" with me for awhile. I have taken up the strange habit of using my voice memo app on my iphone as I drive along I20 (my usual long trip) to record ideas that pop into my head. This one came to me as I was driving along and reflecting on how and when I should discipline Margaret. I started to wonder what was driving me to make certain decisions as a parent. Why is it not ok for Margaret to do one thing but then another mother finds that certain behavior acceptable in their child? Yes, there are so many different schools of thought when it comes to parenting. But what is really driving my parenting? What makes me make the decisions that I make for Margaret? I think as a christian it is easy to say that God and prayer are what drive your decisions. And while I believe this to be true and I think prayer is/should be a HUGE part of a Christian's life-it is how we apply the information/guidance that God gives us through this prayer that directs our lives. I guess this is where I should place a second disclaimer: I am in no way a theologist or am I trying to be. I am just a christian, wife, mom sometimes wannabe philosopher who really enjoys discussing the gray areas of life. And on this particular day a few months ago I got to thinking about what was prompting me to make certain decisions for my child and family. I was and still am trying to make sure that my compass is being guided as authentically as possible. I think a "misguided" compass was part of the reason I struggled with postpartum anxiety and postpartum depression. I set out on the journey into motherhood really wanting to do everything naturally and just "right"- just perfect. I knew that I wanted a natural, unmedicated birth so I started to read everything I could get my hands on in the way of natural parenting. I ordered a subscription to Mothering Magazine the second the pee strip on my pregnancy test had a plus sign! When my beautiful baby arrived in just the beautiful, natural way I planned it I was ecstatic. I could put a pretty little check mark in that box of my perfect natural parenting list. Are you beginning to see where I am going with this? So, when I got my baby home and co-sleeping was not working for us, and I wasn't comfortable wearing my baby every minute of the day something in me started to say you are failing. Look at your check list! It's not complete! And then I would go on the message boards and read different blogs and articles and every little comment kept bouncing around in my head. "leaving your child alone in their room is the equivalent to a mother wolf leaving her cub in the wild for a predator to attack" "my friends and I refer to exersaucers as the circles of neglect" I started to doubt myself and my choices so much I became literally frozen in fear - fear that I would make the wrong decision. Two particular incidents stand out in my mind. One I was in my daughter's room and had just put her down to sleep for the night. I couldn't decide wether or not to turn her night light on or off. I had read two conflicting opinions on this and I was literally standing in the middle of her room frozen not knowing what to do. Secondly, when I finally went to my doctor for treatment he prescribed me to Zoloft. I immediately went online and "researched" all I could look up on Zoloft and breast feeding. Although my doctor assured me Zoloft was safe I had to find out what my natural community had to say. My husband looked at me (literally, bless his soul) and said "Meghan, you are anxious about your anxiety medicine. Shut the computer now" Best advice ever. Somedays you just need to shut the computer, put down the parenting book or magazine, tune out the well-intended friend, pour a glass of wine and say a prayer. (Call me blasphemous but I pray and drink at the same time *gasp*)
Don't get me wrong, I still practice a lot of natural parenting ideas. And I often refer to my natural online community for info and help with my parenting. But I have also learned that I am never going to be perfect by anyone's standards-even Margaret's. And truly, I don't want her to think I'm perfect or that I'm even striving for perfection because that will only let her down. I want her to know that I am doing the best that I can for her and her daddy and her siblings to come AND for me. I want her to see me trusting God to give me the guidance and direction that I need. Yes, I may sometimes let my compass get out of wack and there are even moments that I will just be standing still not knowing which way to go. But I know that God will never leave me alone on this journey.