Taking a parenting pause
When I was pregnant with my first daughter I didn’t spend too much time thinking about what it would be like to be a mom. My identity as a mother. Most of my research was around what was happening with my rapidly changing body and if my baby was the size of an apple or a pear (is there a difference?). I poured over learning about childbirth, researching the best stroller, and how to prevent stretch marks.
It didn’t actually occur to me to think about motherhood itself or to even begin to label what it was that I was stepping into until baby girl was 4 weeks old and I Googled, “how to get baby to sleep.”
You’ve been there, mama. It’s a frightening world out there in the land of Google and what came next was just the beginning…
“Am I a cry it out mama?” No. Definitely not.
“Am I a cosleeping mama?” Maybe….? Sounds cozy.
“What the f**k is Ferberization?” And can I buy it at Target?
And so it began. After 5 more minutes of scrolling I learned there are parenting styles and I obviously better pick one quickly so I don’t ruin my baby for life. I learned about attachment theory. Helicopter parenting. Tiger mothering (huh?). And authoritarian parenting style.
Let the labeling begin.
And so it went with every stage of development. Sleeping, nursing, eating, daycare, weaning, discipline, and more. I became a research FIEND. My stack of parenting books on my bedside table towered the roof.
It didn’t stop there. I joined all the parenting Facebook groups, talked to every mama I knew, subscribed to newsletters, and went to parenting classes. Knowledge is power, right?
And it worked! Baby slept. Baby ate. Baby went to the perfect daycare. She played nicely with others. Clearly, I am parent of the year. #winning
Then baby number two arrived.
Remember all that research and knowledge? Well this kid had a mind of her own. What worked with one did not work on the other. But the difference was – I no longer had the time to research all over again. I had two kids, a full-time job, and a life to live. What’s a mama to do?
Then something amazing happened. And maybe it was out of near desperation or pure exhaustion. But instead of every question or problem until my eyes rolled to the back of my head, I did nothing. I stopped. I observed. I waited. I breathed. I noticed. And then, I responded.
I call this, taking a parenting pause.
And what came next was perfect, because for once I tuned into the needs of my baby and noticed what she was asking of me, in her own little way. Before reacting I observed her, noticed her, saw her (maybe for the first time).
My reactions turned to responses.
Responding to her needs. Her unique little needs that were not the needs of her older sister. Not the needs of the child I read about in yesterday’s Facebook group post. Not even the needs of the baby she was the day before. It was her unique needs. On that day. In that moment.
And when I began to see my child for who she was in that moment, all parenting labels went out the door. And I realized something beautiful, I am her mom and I know what she needs. All I need to do is stop for long enough to listen.
Because babies will tell us. Toddlers will show us. Kids will explain to us. And if we take a small parenting pause, there isn’t a book or Facebook post in the world that can truly tell you how to respond. Because it’s programmed into YOU. You were built for this – to notice your child.
Curious to learn more about the parenting pause? As a life coach for mamas I’m dedicated to supporting you to live this life. Want to learn more? Check out my website at mamaste.io.