New mothers are subjected to an endless bombardment of parenting advice. Parenting experts get asked questions that would have been unheard of in past generations. “My child will only pee in the shower. It is very difficult to take him anywhere because commercial bathrooms don’t have showers. What should I do?”
I’m not kidding. I didn’t make this up. How about: “My three-year-old will only wear pajamas and refuses to get dressed” or fill in the blank with the demands of a pint-sized power player.
Here is part of the problem. Many mothers today are well-educated and have had successes in business. As a result, they approach mothering as a task that can be accomplished by planning the work and working the plan. How hard could it be to manage one little person?
The overlooked part is that when an employee is out of control, you can fire them. Not so with your children. Therefore, it is a good idea to decide early whether you are going to be the hammer or the nail.
Do you set the rules or are you going to allow your children to run the show? On the other hand, if you try to control every move they make, you will end up controlling nothing. Too much talking at children just increases their ability to tune you out.
Mothering requires a doctorate in multi-tasking while actively maintaining a secure home base.
Imagine a small boat that is tied to a buoy. The buoy stays put so that the boat can leave its source but can’t float too far out into unfamiliar or dangerous waters.
The trouble is that being a buoy isn’t an exciting position. It is crucial to the inner security of a child that someone act as the buoy but who can do it, given the other demands on the mothers of today?
The unspoken description of the “good mother” still persists. “She is quietly strong, selflessly giving and undemanding. She is unambitious for herself. She is receptive and intelligent but in a moderate, concrete way. She is even-tempered. She loves her children completely, unconditionally, and unambivalently.”
How is that for a stultifying definition that would require a frontal lobotomy to get one-sided enough to meet this job description.
Our new mothers have an internal conflict created by the mixed message “Be all that you can be. Reach for the stars!” and “Tone yourself down. You’re a mother now.” The result is free-floating anxiety.
What is the best approach to the mothering maze? The perfect parenting style does not exist. Every mother starts out anxious. Some just “roll with the punches” better than others.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities and never-ending commitment that mothering requires, admit it. Take advantage of some of the modern luxuries available like a massage, a luxurious bath and a glass of wine or time away with a loving, trusted friend. Let yourself off the hook.
Here is what is most important. Babies must be coaxed into life. They need your face in front of them beaming love and acceptance. They need to hear your voice. They need to be held in your arms. They need to be where the action is. They also need quiet time. Time when they are not bombarded with talking machines or talking, singing, squawking toys or people. Actually, they simply need what we all need; big doses of love, acceptance and care.
Susan teaches small group mentoring seminars locally on the topic of how to Unleash the Power of Your Intuition. Find her at susanvelasquez.com.