Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Gotta let go of "less than" mentality

It's been 8 months since K was born. Holy smokes. As a new mama, I didn't know exactly what to do all the time, despite the books, friends, DNA, experience, etc. Some days I might have known "what to do," but it didn't feel right or I wasn't ready or damnit, I wanted to do it another way to see if a new perspective was different.

K has been exposed to a LOT of people. A ton of family. As many friends as I can figure out how to see in- person. More strangers than I probably want to know about.

In the beginning I was jealous when people wanted to hold him, comfort him, oggle him, play with him, or do anything else he liked or needed. He was MY baby (yikes!) and I wanted to be the person doing all the things...

Of course enough sleep deprivation and anxiety got me to change my tune pretty quickly. "Anyone want to have my kid for a while?" "Great. Here ya go. Bring him back alive-ish, please." As I got more comfortable sharing, and letting people "do their thing" with K, I started to worry differently. Now my thought was, "Is my lax behavior going to create something bad for him (food allergies, abandonment issues, fear of strangers, fear of the outdoors...on and on)?"

The pendulum swings, right? At first I wanted to be his sole provider and now I'm worried that I'm not there enough. Sheesh!

And as I swing back to the "This is the way I/we want to raise K..." concepts, I feel defensive. Like my ideas are crazy or uptight (still) or worse, just plain wrong. It only comes up when I try to explain why I do what I do (I know, I don't have to explain, but when K gets babysat by others, I really do need to tell them what I want or what I know about K so that things can go more smoothly). In my head it all sounds good. Out loud I feel like a freak!

But as I was trying to calm down about it (my mantra has been "As long as he's alive..."), I realized that there's an underlying current of "less than." I've read a lot of books, have several awesome Mom groups, have a ton of friends and family with loads of experience...and yet, the expert on Kalev (other than K himself), is me.

I know the cries. I know the looks. I know when it's time to sing and when it's time to rock. I know the hand gestures. I have to say I even know the poops. We move seamlessly together. Many people who know me know that I'm a huge fan of comparing. I'm always looking around to see what other people are doing. And it totally undermines any expertise I might have from the get go. I also miss the innocence of my own "figuring it out." Taking care of K doesn't really allow me to phone that in anymore. Sure, I compare his feats and triumphs (and when I find some faults, I'll probably compare those too) to make sure he's not "falling behind" or whatever, but honestly, after 8 months, I am confident that he and I have that special language, crafted from his first moments in my belly, that allows us to get each other. And no book, expert, friend, or chart can tell me about my son. I get help when I need help. I *feel* things when I am worried and then I check them out. But I am not less than.

For once, I am the ultimate expert. I can (and probably will) write a book on K. Yes, everyone has had success doing x with their kid...and sometimes I want to copy their exact moves to see if it works with K. But I know better. K gulps milk. K gags on big chunks of food. K doesn't really freak out about teething or being sick. K sleeps differently each night, just like I do. K wants to be with me a lot (and again, it's not weird, because in a room with him and Papa, I always want to be with them too!...I just don't cry about it).

Owning that expertise is unfamiliar. In fact, owning any expertise is unfamiliar. When I'm right about things, I surprise myself. I even think I surprise others. I don't stand tall and proud in that wisdom. But as K's mama, I can say I know K. And it's about time to let go of the idea that I'm not good enough or don't know stuff. I DO know "stuff" and the bond that K and I have is full of knowing, too. I know that he knows stuff, too. That keeps him safe as well.

As I start to trust what I know, then I am more free to trust what K knows...and that can only bring good things.


  1. Love it. I already feel like some days I'm on top of things ("I totally know my baby! I can understand his cries!") and some days I wonder how on earth mamas do it, because I don't feel like I understand what's going on at ALL. But here I am having one of those more difficult days, and even though I couldn't figure out how to really help Z, I got him to fall asleep in the Moby, so at least he can get a little rest, which generally makes things better in the end, no matter what was bugging him. And then I think, I should really acknowledge even that effort more, because I still DO know something about how he works. Anyway, all that to say that yeah, trusting our own expertise is hard, and good for you for doing so.



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