6 May 2015
The Birth of a Mother
Mothers don't make mistakes, do they? Of course they do! But there's so much pressure on parents (especially mums) to be 'perfect' that often we're consumed with doing everything right, and forget the value in sometimes getting things a little bit wrong. Julia Jones from Newborn Mothers tells us why it's really OK to make mistakes ... in fact, she says it's an important part of growing into motherhood.
Motherhood is hard. It's probably the hardest thing you'll ever do, but you might not realise that until you are in the thick of it and it's too late to turn back.
That's because our culture tends to gloss over the messy aspects of motherhood and present a somewhat sanitised and angelic portrait of mothers. It can be a shock to get to motherhood and realise that you are still YOU. Imperfect and human - not an angel after all.
It can be even more of a shock to realise that your own mother has just been making-it-up-as-she-goes-along for all these years too!
It can be very tempting to 'rescue' a new mother from her mistakes. "Don't let the baby get over-tired" or "don't create a rod for your own back" or perhaps worst of all "enjoy the moment cause they grow up too fast." AAAAAAAGH!
This is the motherhood equivalent of handing a mother a fish, rather than teaching her how to go fishing.
Mistakes have value!
When you learn by making mistakes (rather than doing what you are told) you don't just learn one solution once. You learn how to trouble shoot with your baby and work as a team and you can apply that process to all future parenting adventures. Right now you might be making mistakes getting your baby to sleep. In a few years you'll be making mistakes trying to get your toddler to eat greens. After that the mistakes will be about getting your kid to tidy his bedroom and so on and so on and so on.
Mistakes help you find your own unique parenting style for your own unique baby. Despite what many baby-care books suggest there is no one-size-fits-all parenting solution. The only way to figure out what works for you and your baby is to try out a few different things, and keep doing whichever one worked.
Most valuable of all, mistakes teach you to forgive.
There is a African proverb "Beware of the naked man that offers you a shirt." Meaning how can you offer something when you need it yourself? How can you love another when you don't love yourself? How can you forgive your baby when you can't forgive yourself?
Make mistakes, forgive yourself, and let them go. Only then you will be able to offer the same kindness and generosity to your baby when she throws a ball in the house and smashes your best vase, or stays out past midnight on a school night.
NOT making mistakes is in fact the biggest mistake you can make. Mistakes have many benefits in learning and growing as a mother. I think it's high time we started admitting our mistakes and embracing our imperfections as part of the teach yourself process of motherhood.
Julia inspires pregnant women to make the six weeks after your baby is born the best six weeks of your life. Get pregnancy, sleep and breastfeeding resources, including a heap of freebies at Newborn Mothers. Be the mum you want to be.