Sunday, February 24, 2013
I love my babies. I love watching them grow and mature and become big girls. I love watching Elisa, thoroughly engrossed in Little Women, curled up with tired eyes but too engaged to put the book down and rest. I love holding hands with Raina as we ski along in the moonlight, and watching Sadie careen confidently around the ice skating rink. But babies are special. They are small for such a short time, and I treasure these moments of fragile little-ness with all my heart. I thought baby #4 would be raised on auto-pilot, but I have to admit there is still so much I have to learn, and my methods are always changing as I figure out what works - and what doesn't.
We have never had a baby who fit the "angel-baby" prototype. Our babies are amazing and beautiful creatures, but none of them has been easy or mellow or simple. I have been humbled so often in this journey!
With Elisa, I really thought mothering would come naturally and it never occurred to me that I should read a book. Wasn't mothering just in the heart of every woman? A God-given and Holy Spirit led ability to nurture and care for the sweet baby of your womb at your breast and in your arms? But, I remember one day a friend asked, "Are you a schedule feeder or on-demand?" I gave her a blank look. What? That was the first time I really realized there were different ways to parent. There were options and maybe I needed to be more informed. So, I read some books. I read Baby-Wise and quickly found that I could not make myself or my baby adhere to such strict guidelines (as a more seasoned mama, I am a strong opponent of much that Baby-Wise espouses -- mostly because they claim their form of structure is the Biblical way to raise a baby, and it isn't. It's teaching that can be helpful, but there is nothing more Biblical about letting your baby cry rather than rocking them!) I read The Baby Whisperer and resonated a bit more with the more gentle routines and training put forth by Tracy Hogg, as well as her message of understanding your babe's unique personality.
But - I couldn't always make my daughter follow the routine. I would cry if her naps were too short, and feel so overwhelmed because I was failing! It sounds ridiculous now, but I really thought I was horrible mother because I couldn't keep the schedule. And I was S-T-R-E-S-S-E-D.
Three babies later, I have learned. I have realized that the books are helpful, but the nurture and love and caring for my little ones really does come from the Holy Spirit. I find myself praying over simple decisions and seeking His guidance, rather than fretting because we are off the recommended schedule. I snuggle my babe as often and as much as I want to, and I enjoy the closeness of holding my wee one. I nurse my baby girl when she is hungry. Even if the clock doesn't say that it is time. I greet her with a smile and a hug - even if her nap was forty-five minutes instead of two hours. We just go with it. Yes, I want her to have a predictable routine. But I am a happier mama if allow myself the freedom to love her from the heart and meet her needs with tender flexibility - rather than imposing someone else's expectations on both of us.
Routine is good. But snuggles and love and kisses and freedom to nurture are better. At least for this mama and these four "out of the box" little girls!