1.31.2012

Reflections


I quietly tiptoed upstairs last night to give a final kiss to my sleeping six-year-old Jude, knowing in only one hour he would turn seven.  Seven!  I sat on the side of his bed for a few minutes, watching him sleep.  He's looking so grown up these days, his face having lost that baby chubbiness.  I asked him earlier if he'd stop growing up right here and now, if I could freeze him just where he is.  I told him he'd be like Han Solo.  We laughed and he promised to be my baby forever.  Oh this is a stage of sweet innocence, I know



I always find myself particularly reflective on Jude's birthday.  It's the day I became a mother, after all.  I think about the way we've chosen to parent and how it's evolved over the years.  That first year, I read voraciously.   Lots of good came out of all that reading; I learned so much.  Yet in retrospect, I feel those parenting books can be a bit prescriptive, if formulaic.  Often they don't account for the child's personality.  Sometimes they create expectations, expectations that may go unmet, expectations that might not otherwise be there.  These can leave us feeling like we are doing something wrong... or that our baby is.  They can undermine the confidence of a new parent.

 People used to tell me to trust my instincts, but on some level, instincts develop with experience.  When the nurses handed Jude to me, I had never cared for a newborn before.  Frankly, I was a wee bit terrified.  It's hard to tease out which inner voice to trust when you're bombarded with conflicting advice that people just love to give first-time parents.

Now, seven years later, the wise teacher of time and experience has shown a few things to be true.  You can't hold them too much, cuddle them too much, kiss, hug or carry them too much.  You can't go wrong when you try to get behind the eyes of your child, to see the world from their perspective.  No matter what people tell you to the contrary, someday, yes they will sleep in their own beds... or wean... or do whatever it is that it feels like they will never do.  If something's not working, yes you can always change it.   There have been days that are pure bliss and days that we've had to muddle our way through.  But we don't wish these days of raising young children away.  Because at their core they are filled with so much beauty.


And goodness gracious, don't neglect your own needs.  Keep your own well full.  Sometimes doing so requires creativity, but it's so very important.


To the boy Indigo calls her knight in shining armor and Evie says she wants to marry, we wish you a very happy birthday!  Jude, seven years ago today you cracked my heart wide open with a love I had never known before – the deep, expansive, sometimes vulnerable love that a mother feels for her child.


We love you... now and always!

2 comments:

  1. Oh, that was so beautiful, thank you for sharing your wise words! Happy birthday to your sweet firstborn!
    -Jaime

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  2. Wow, Rachel. I love this post. So many things you said stuck a chord with me. It's like you were speaking from my heart. Looking back, there are so many ways I wish I would have listened to my own instincts instead of parenting books, other parents, or society's expectations. I've been passing on the advice to trust your own instincts since last year, but in reality, it took me until about a month ago (a little over 2 years of parenting) to finally, honest to goodness, deep down, really believe, in the farthest recesses of my brain, that I should trust my instincts (and Ron's, of course) better than any other person or writing. Love how you expressed the important "few things to be true". Well done!

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