Today, a book recommendation, something I don’t do lightly.
This is an old post, dug up from my old blog – originally posted in March 2007 – when the LGBB was a mere 8 months old. Given that it is an age-old topic (new mother insecurity), I thought I’d repost here for any new mums out there, or those taking note for when their time comes. I do hope it reaches the screen of someone who needs to read this recommendation today. You’re not on your own in this! x
Do you ever read something, like a book or an article, and think, “Hang on…. did I write this for myself and forget?” It’s something so very inline with how you see things that it’s as if your central nervous system has a spare body floating around that it uses to do things you could have done/said/written yourself. I do. Not often, but sometimes. Especially in written form, I get this quite a bit.
I have found the Mother *boom-tish* of all such books. I am only wishing I’d found it when the LGBB was about 7 weeks old and I was going through the motions with a fake smile plastered on my face. I was so worn down by sleep deprivation and had been hung upside down (or so it felt) for so long that to find my right way up seemed so impossible that I was quite happy to just hang there and wallow, thank you very much all the same, kind Sir.
I was so moved and my confidence in my own instincts so honoured as I read this book that I actually wrote and thanked the author. She’s certainly taken the writer’s claw out of my task – because I have been jotting things down as they come to me – it seems they’re all here in this book. In plain English.
With a cherry on top.
It reminds me of one of my favourite, well-used Steve Martin lines (shit… was it Steve Martin? I can’t remember! Noooooo! Damn you, baby braaaain! *shakes fist to heavens*): “That’s just what I’ve been trying to tell these people”, except in this case, “these people” is me. This book has somehow given me the confidence to trust what I already know. I am sure it would be the same for anyone who reads it. What a gift!
It’s full of wisdom I’ve been trying to tell myself.
I have found Intuitive Mothering, for me personally, to be one of those nuggets that speaks to your core. That inner You whom you know, maybe very well but more often perhaps not so intimately – the authoress herself professes to not really know where the book came from and I find that fascinating as much as it is affirming that it comes from a divine and pure source, devoid of much of the ego you find in other books of its kind. I know exactly what she means because there have often been times where I will write something and go back and read it later, to find I feel like I’m reading it for the very first time. Ella’s “Parallel Story” was written like that. In fact, both the stories about her that I wrote for her pages came from thin air (not to say they’re not completely factual, it’s just that I sat down, put my fingers to the keyboard, got up and went away and there they remain, unedited bar a few spelling errors, no reworking or the likes).
This book has given me the affirmation I really needed at a time I really needed it in order to stand taller and realise I don’t need peripheral parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, friends, professionals… ANY outside source… to give me the proverbial pat on the back I thought I needed in order to make it the “right” or “correct” thing to do.
Mind you, the irony isn’t lost on me that a book (in itself an “outside source”) has led me to this conclusion! Hmmm…..
I think the difference is that I feel far more empowered by seeing the book on the shelf (the slimmest paperback spine in amongst the other Parenting manuals, just leaping out and going “Pick ME! PICK MEEE!”, having the follow-through to purchase it (I was on a “date” with Steve at the time and we’d just meandered in to a large bookstore and sauntered to our favourite sections – he Quantum something-or-other, me Parenting) and then realising what a pearler it actually is right from the first page.
It shines a truth. It speaks to my innermost mother instinct. Reminds me to trust what I feel is right, for me and the LGBB. It goes and sits and has a yarn with that real deep knowledge we all have that, without all the “assvice” and interference and uncertainty that builds up in you when you defer to others to tell you if you’re heading in the right direction, you most certainly ARE doing exceptionally well for YOUR baby and everything is going right (despite what any general book or MCHN tries to tell you).
Just yesterday, I had a nightmare day: went for the LGBB’s 8mth check. Was told I was sitting her too much and “that’s why her legs are bent like a frog, if you keep doing it she’ll have problems and need physio” and rah de rah de rah. It made sense, there were no “that doesn’t sound right” alarms ringing in my head. I simply went “Ok” and began doing more tummy exercises with L from the time we got home. Don’t think it’s a coincidence that the poor kid had the most miserable afternoon – she cried and cried almost non-stop, big sorry-for-herself sobbing – and by the time she got to bed last night we were both exhausted. By the time I went to bed, I’d realised (again) that I’d allowed someone else to tell me what was best for my child. It resulted in an extremely uncomfortable day for both of us.
I always vow I’ll never do it again, that I’ll be more aware of it next time…. and I always slip! I’m not hard on myself for that, I am realistic about it and the fact that by my very nature, I aim to please/do right/do it well. But when I walk past that book on my end table, it snaps me back – the pendulum might get out of whack but if it swings back to centre, all is not lost.
I don’t profess that the book has ALL the answers or that it is for everyone, merely it is a bloody useful tool now for me to dip into – full of reminders I could have written to myself, but so nice to see it in print, published, as if anything written in a book is fact and “right”…. except this time, with this book, intuitively, I know that for me, it IS right. Because it speaks to my truth. The comforting thing about that is, if it has been written by someone else, and yet it is full of what my deeper wisdom would have written had I not buried her with fear, cynicism, loathing and the best of intentions, then surely it is going to also make someone else’s soul squeal with delight.
So therefore, I feel it my duty to pass on to anyone who considers it might be something they’d like to have on their own shelf.
I give you…
Intuitive Mothering by Lyn MacPherson, published by newholland.com.au, ISBN 174110352-5, available in all good bookstores…
Some small favourite extracts:
“Things” are not important to your child, but you are. If you are happy and around and interacting with your child, that will mean more to them than anything you could ever buy them.
The better we look and the tidier our house is does not reflect how well we are coping. DING DING DING DING!!! This is the gold-star sentence for me. I was blinded by the lightbulb that went off in my head when I read it. I look around and see others’ perfection. It’s SO NOT perfection. It is the illusion of same. Key here for me is: don’t waste energy on assuming what you’re seeing (in others and how they cope) and then using those assumptions to fill in the rest of the picture. And don’t be ashamed of your own dirty floors/toilet/shower! They won’t always be dirty. They might be today, but what needs doing today (or tomorrow) might not be cleaning them! Do what you want to do, not what you think you should do (see the next paragraph!)
Confronting and releasing expectations: Make what we “should” do what we “want” to do.. or don’t do it. Another barrier to tuning in to your child lies in expectations. They are everywhere, from mothers to friends to doctors – and especially the expectations you heap on yourself. The key to liberating yourself from expectations is to take the word “Should” out of your vocabulary. Every time you hear yourself thinking you “should” do something, ask “Is this really something I want to do? I it the right thing for me and my child?” If you are able to say “yes”, that is great – it has now become your choice – not something done because it is expected. If your answer is “no”, choose not to do it. (If I had remembered this yesterday, my Bullfrog-Legged baby and I would have had a much happier afternoon, wouldn’t we! I didn’t listen to my instincts until last night, and I couldn’t wait until this morning to start a fresh new day with her when she got up for the day)
Be proud of your decisions and choices. If you feel the need to reassess one of your choices, do so for you, not for others. Avoid the bombardment of influences out there….. Throughout your journey with your child, just be who you are. Do not expect to feel anything, just let yourself feel. Let it all flow. Neither of you have ever done this before – it’s a new relationship for you and your baby. Every woman is beautiful and unique. If we were all the same, life would be very boring. Every child is also beautiful and unique and every mother is beautifully equipped in her own unique way to understand, nurture and raise her children. See the beauty and the mystery of the discovery, and the true freedom brought about by feeling rather than thinking.
‘Intuitive Mothering’ is more than another baby care book. It is a warm and friendly tool for the new parent negotiating the maze of apparently conflicting, prescriptive advice about parenting styles and approaches – Dr Bronwyn Gould, Chair, National Assoc. for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.