Dear New Mother:
First of all, congratulations! No matter what type of mother you evolve to be– mainstream or alternative, boisterous or calm and quiet, the kind who is super-involved or the type who sits back and watches her little ones explore– you are in for the ride of your life. Sometimes it will be a peaceful ride through a back country road. Other times it will be more like driving breakneck speed down the highway with a broken seatbelt and dodgy brakes. But no matter how you travel, you are in for one heck of a trip. Enjoy the roadside attractions, the pit stops, and even the breakdowns.
Second, welcome! You have chosen a wonderful, blessing-filled way of life.
To a culture that says “Push your child away. Make them independent of you as soon as you can because that is what this world demands” you have decided to instead say to your child “Come, cling to me. Take your time, and I will be here for you as you grow in your own sweet way. When the world is chaotic and confusing and scary, cling to me. I will shelter you.”
To a society that constantly pushes children out the door and into the world to find their identity among peers, stores, and screens, you have instead decided to make your home a safe, centering place where your child can first find his identity within himself.
And to the world that has insisted that children be pushed quickly from one stage to the next, that they leap to the next milestone before they’ve barely had time to master the old one, and that they be chivied along through childhood as if it were one big checklist, you have instead said to your child, “Take your time. Take as long as you want. I’ll be here waiting for you.”
It’s a beautiful thing.
And yet as you begin this journey, dear mother, I want to share some advice.
Do not get caught up in the trappings. Grains and colors and chores of the day, rhythms and routines, a list of rules about what to wear and what to play with and what to eat– these can all be useful guidelines. But they are a means to an end. Always, always ask yourself “Why do we do this? Why should I do this?” and keep searching until you find an answer. And if at the end of the day you have come to the conclusion that this particular guideline doesn’t work for you and your family, please let it go without hesitation or doubt.
There are so many wise voices to listen to. We search for mentors and guides and gurus. But sometimes those voices can speak so loudly that they drown out our own good thoughts. “In a multitude of counselors there is wisdom,” but at the end of the day, heed your own inner voice. Experts might be experts in methodology, but no one knows your child like you do.
Do not drown in a sea of information. Books, websites, newsletters, journals, curricula, blogs– if you find yourself researching more than doing, it might be time to disconnect and step back.
Along with that information will come the endless list of things to buy. Please, mama, do not get caught in the consumer trap. Do not put yourself in debt to try to buy your baby the perfect childhood. You already come with what is most necessary– a warm body and a warm heart. All the rest is extra.
I will leave you with one last piece of advice– enjoy every single second that you can. Find joy both in the laughter and in the hard moments. Smiles are endearing, but so too are pouts. And they grow so, so quickly. Treasure every moment, because soon enough even the longest childhood must come to an end.
Peace to you, new mother.
Peace and love and joy and grace and understanding and patience.