Monday, May 23, 2011

What Mothers Do

About a month or so ago, I ran across a book, "what mothers do: especially when it looks like nothing" by Naomi Stadlen.  At first glance it seemed to address a lot of what I was dealing with currently.  I went out and bought it but haven't made the time to finish reading it.  But, I'm now working on it.  Today I read this passage and thought it was really worth sharing.  I wish I would have been told (and equally listened to) something like this.  The further I get in time away from those first weeks and months, I see how applicable this is.

"...She supposes her baby must be out of line because he does not do what the expert assured her was "normal" for a baby of that particular age.  It may sound strange, but the solution to this "problem" does not seem to be a super-expert...If she feels disoriented, this is not a problem requiring bookshelves of literature to put right.  No, it is exactly the right state of mind for the teach-yourself process that lies ahead of her.  Every time a woman has a baby she has something to learn partly from her culture but mostly from the baby.  If she really considered herself an expert, or if her ideas were set, she would find it very hard to adapt to her individual baby.  Even after her first baby, she cannot sit back as an expert on all babies. Each child will be a little different and teach her something new.  She needs to feel uncertain in order to be flexible.  So, although it can seem so alarming, the "all-at-sea" feeling is appropriate.  Uncertainly is a good starting point for a mother.  Through uncertainty, she can begin to learn."

My biggest complaint over the last 6 months has been control.  I've wanted it all to be an exact science when I should have been embracing the instability and confusion.  So far, I really enjoy the book, even though I'm only 50 pages in.  It is discussing all of the assumptions about motherhood that just get overlooked and not acknowledged (even by ourselves) as significant, not just in accomplishment, but in how it changes our lives (body and spirit).  It's helping me appreciate the whole process more, anyway.

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