We all know that feeling: the one where your brain alarm goes off, your belly gets tight or you just know when something is a little off; especially when we compromise our beliefs to satisfy another.
It’s imperative that, as mothers, we do not put others before our children and ourselves. It’s just as important to stay strong as the parent. To not settle when these bodily (and mental) alarms go off when we know what’s best for our children. Because, we know what’s best. They’re our children. And, our choices will not be agreed with at all times; even from the ones we love.
This becomes increasingly difficult if we co-parent with someone who is not on the same page. But, there is a difference between giving up and understanding another perspective. This can also be applied while our children grow and become able to reason and negotiate (because we all know- they will negotiate).
So, what can we do to really listen to our gut? What if our signs slowly desensitize us, because it takes energy to understand ourselves? And, we’re lucky if we have enough of that energy to successfully know what’s “right” while we have the pressure of in-laws, partners, other parents and the Internet. Oh, joy. It takes time, patience and practice.
I encourage you to check in. I believe it’s vital to notice these “uh-oh” signs while we grow as parents and while we make decisions for our children. These signs begin as early as day 1.
Remember when you were asked to cover your breast while you fed your newborn in public by a friend and your “uh-oh” sign went off? Perhaps you were compromising a belief you never knew you had. Remember when your partner encouraged feeding your child an un-healthy snack when you weren’t ready and you felt that gut drop? Maybe you believed it was too early in the day for that spike of sugar. Whatever the example, whatever the reason, we know when something goes against our core values and beliefs. And often we do not know what these said values and morals are until we personally experience them. Don’t forget: they can change as we age, and that too is ok.
It’s incredibly difficult not to doubt our choices. Especially when these choices may affect their little lives in an incredibly big way. But, we need to go with our gut. We need to trust our instinct.
This may be one of the simplest lessons to learn. It may come across like a no-brainer, though we may need a little reminder from time to time.
It’s ok when we change our minds in order to make a decision we never thought possible because of the influence of another child’s parent. But, if we feel as though a specific decision does not suit your child’s best interest, then listen to that gut feeling. You’ll thank yourself later.
Sometimes, we do not notice when these little body/mind-alarms go off. Sometimes we have so many distractions, so many opinions, that we just go with the flow.
If we go with the flow we can loose sight of our child’s needs. Every child is different; we know this. Every child learns at a different pace; we know this. But, sometimes we do not consider how even the smallest decision can impact our child.
Whether that is the school they attend, which sport they’re willing to partake in or the friends they hang around. We, as parents, have the ability to guide and make choices on their behalf (age permitting) that they are unable to solely make.
We can listen to their passionate rants about golfers and impose the importance of taking up a sport that they truly want. Not what all of their classmates are participating in. We can save money for private Montessori school knowing our child will benefit more from a hand-on approach rather than waiting for public school because of its convenience. We can allow them to eat a donut before dinner because they really had a rough day at school, and they just need that simple, comforting pleasure. These choices will be different for every family dynamic, but the goal here is to go with our parenting gut.
Practicing makes perfect don’t forget. The more and more we go with our instinct the better we become.
As our child grows, the more we’ll need to use these parenting instincts. Remember: there’s a difference between being over-protective accompanied with paranoia and being safe. There, at times, can be a fine line. But, only you can tell for sure. You’re the parent and no one can tell you what’s best for your child.
We will get criticism from all around- including from our children. They will encourage us to act, think and believe a certain way. But, we must stay true to ourselves and listen to our instincts as we make parenting choices.
There is opportunity to learn and grow as mothers. Sometimes, we don’t see that the opportunities are right within ourselves.
Words by Mother Muse Julian Jamie