I remember six years ago when I found out that I was pregnant with our first. One of the first things that I did was register on Baby Center. Soon I started receiving weekly emails with the progress of our little one.
“Your baby is the size of a pencil top eraser.”
“Your baby is the size of a banana.”
This is how you’re feeling right now…this is what other moms are saying…this is what your spouse is experiencing…this is what you should be doing…this is what you should be buying…these are the most popular names…and the best stroller…and why you should use cloth diapers…and why you shouldn’t….and on. and on. and on.
But it was fun. It was exciting and new and I loved reading every bit of it.
Fast forward six years and four kids later and I’ve sold the cloth diapers on eBay, donated most of the baby clothes and toys I thought we needed (but that they actually never played with), and haven’t even thought much about starting our 7 month on solid foods (because bottles are quicker and easier and the excitement of making my own baby food has long since worn off).
The funny part? If I would have stopped and asked my mom’s input somewhere along the way, I probably wouldn’t have purchased or registered for half of the stuff that has since been donated or given away.
But at the time, I felt like I was pioneering new territory. It had been 25 years since my mom carried, birthed, dressed, fed, and strollered a baby. Her generation didn’t question vaccinations, didn’t consider organic and wouldn’t even know what “baby-wearing” meant.
This was the modern world, I was raising my baby in a generation she knew little bit.
And what was my mom’s response?
In her wisdom and humility, she kindly let me go through my process.
When she asked why I wasn’t giving our oldest tylenol for her fever, I gave her a detailed explanation of the new recommendations for letting it run it’s course unless it was interrupting sleep, at which point I would give a single dose of ibuprofen.
She just nodded and said “oh, ok.”
She didn’t push back when I was purchasing cloth diapers (even though she had hated them herself, and would have purchased disposable had they been able to afford it at the time), didn’t question the exersaucers, jump-a-roos, bumbo seats and activity mats, and rarely offered advice unless I asked…which I rarely did.
I had Baby Center, WebMD and infinite other moms opinion’s at my finger tips…I had it under control. I’d even get aggravated when my grandma would offer potty training advice.
Grandma, I GOT THIS.
And I really thought that I did.
And then we had our first…and while I kept it together on the outside, internally it felt like all hell had broken loose.
She didn’t sleep…she cried all of the time…and then the unspeakable: I brought her into our bed out of desperation…that is what my mom had done and we were in kindergarten when she finally got us completely out!…this was not supposed to happen, I wasn’t going to do this!
The good thing, is that I survived and now I can look back and laugh about it. Despite ALL of the information available to us, maybe parenting isn’t actually that different than it used to be!
My mom may not have gotten it all right, but she is more wise and smart than I was giving her credit for. She not only kept us all alive, but she managed to sneak in some good morals and values, too, and was one heck of a hard worker.
So now I realize this, when I ask my mom for advice, these four things happen:
1) I honor her
By asking for her opinion, I’m showing her that I value her, that I need her and that I appreciate having her in my life. (And I humble myself by acknowledging that I don’t know it all!)
2) We bond
Most often her input is accompanied by a funny story from experience. We laugh and joke about it and are closer because of it.
3) I set an example for my daughters
Down the road, I want my daughters to ask me for parenting advice…or any kind of advice. By showing them that I appreciate the wisdom of my elders, I hope they will value it, too.
4) It brings healing
All relationships become strained at times, by asking for input you’re telling your mom “despite what’s happened in the past, I value you and what you bring to our relationship, and I’m glad to be your daughter.” (Seriously, you’re saying all of that with one simple question about teething! :)
And while it certainly isn’t wrong to search online for answers, and I will face issues my mom never had to, moving forward I’m trying to rely a little less on Google and more on her. She may have made mistakes, but she learned from them and I can glean from that experience.
Mom, because I know you’ll read this, know this: You often tell people what a good mom I am, but I wouldn’t be who I am today without the sacrifices you made and diligent effort YOU put into motherhood. You raised us to be responsible, hard-working, generous and to value relationships.
You didn’t get it all right (I mean seriously, letting us come in your guy’s bed when we were five??? ;), but you did set an example of how to love and to love well, and for that I will always be grateful.
So to all moms: THANK YOU for going before us and paving the way, and please forgive us for times when we have not valued or asked for your input.
And to all daughters: Don’t Google it, ASK YOUR MOM! (She may not always know the answer, but at least give her a chance!)
Turns out my grandma’s potty training technique was just what we needed for our second.
What was her secret?
I’m not going to tell you, ask your grandma!
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