Advice from other mothers

I’ve been reading a book about the relationships between mothers and daughters, Mothering the Self by Steph Lawler, for my own university study exploring mothering.  The book is about the mother in the relationship, where typically the focus of such studies would be the daughter.  It has sparked some thoughts about my own mother-daughter relationship with Joss, about the kind of mother I would hope to be and the kind of life I hope she will have.

Some of the mothers Lawler interviewed talk about advice and to whom they would turn for advice either on mothering or childcare issues.  Just this week I have had occasion to be talking to other mothers about Joss, in a week of calling a cab and experiencing some uncomfortable side effects of teething it has also been a week where I said yes to a rare evening out.  Talking to friends about it I said that I was quite enjoying being back at work, but that Joss is always in the back of my mind, and I found it hard to head out for the evening without weighing up whether or not I ought to leave her for something that’s not a necessity, like work.  The words ‘mother’s guilt’ came out.  But why?  Did I say mother’s guilt because I’m trying to assuage myself of that guilt, or persuade myself that me time is needed?  I don’t know the answer but my friend immediately said, “Oh that never goes away you know, mine are all grown up but I still think, do they need me to be there for them.”  I found it really refreshing to hear a mother whose children have ‘flown the nest’ so to speak shared similar thoughts.

Later this week I bumped into an old friend in town, “hasn’t Joss grown!”

She reminded me that not long ago I was worried about Joss’ food intake, I said that she is eating like a trooper and she said “it’s lovely to see them enjoy a meal you’ve prepared isn’t it?”  A colleague asked me if I like to cook today and it dawned on me that I don’t really enjoy cooking per se, although I love to bake, but that I love to prepare food that I know Joss is going to enjoy, and I love to watch her eat, there’s a satisfaction that I cannot explain as she enjoys her food, probably that’s why I was so sad that our breastfeeding journey ended too soon, but that’s a post for next week.

Previously I was in a place where most parenting advice was unwanted, I was getting to know Joss and I suppose I felt that other people offering advice was like them saying all babies are the same, or that they knew Joss better than I did because they’d had children of their own.  Now that I know that she and I have a bond unlike any other I guess my confidence has increased and I feel better able to ask for and seek out advice!  Probably the best advice I’ve had was that which most appealed to my nature!  A friend told me to read the books, as she knew as a researcher I would, but then to put them down and follow my instincts and Joss’.  Why is this so powerful?  It will seem really simple to others but as someone inclined to obsess it is a strong mantra for me!

This leads me nicely into a question to round things off:

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8 thoughts on “Advice from other mothers

  1. Personally, I turn to my Mum, shes been there and done it on everything and she always makes me feel better. But the best advice was to trust my instinct and not listen to others whom maybe don’t know the entire situation. Great post :)

  2. I don’t know who said all kids are alike, I have three and all of them are different. You are to get to know your daughter, and treat her with your instincts. Before I had my first I read all the books, and watched everything I could. Than she came, and before I knew it I was throwing all the information out the window and looking to her for the answers. Enjoy this time it goes by fast believe me, and while it is nice to hear what others have done, you know your child the best. Though sometimes I will admit you will have to try different things for different situations to see what works best for you and her.

  3. I felt very much like you in the beginning. I saw having to ask for advice as a weakness and then whn people offered it, I felt like they were telling me what to do.

    The best advice I’ve ever been given is “Trust your instincts”. As a mother, our instincts are usually right no matter what the professionals or the books say. As someone who suffers with anxiety and worries over the tiniest of details, trusting my instincts was difficult because of self doubt. Now however, I am confident in my own parenting skills and it really shows.

  4. I agree with the trust your own instincts. I tried doing it the way I was told and still people weren’t happy – so I started parenting how I wished to. My own mother died when my first son was very young.

  5. I’d definitely say “Trust your instincts”. You know your child better than anyone! A couple of weeks ago I took my 3yr old to the doctor as I was concerned that she was pooping herself several times a day. The doctor had a quick feel of her tummy and dismissed it as “behavioural” and told me to see my Health Visitor. I wasn’t happy at that explanation as I felt she was trying to poop in the potty and would always get excited when she did, but would often not realise she’d pooped. I mentioned it to a friend and at how unhappy I was at the doctors diagnosis and she told me her daughter had been similar at the same age and it turned out to be a medical issue because she was constipated. Now my daughter is on medication as another doctor and the health visitor agreed with me when I told them I didn’t believe it was behavioural and they listened to me. If I’d ignored my instincts and just listened to the first doctor, my daughter would’ve ended up being really ill!!!

  6. I think you have to trust your instincts and understand that no two babies are a like. Oh and ignore the people who tell you your baby will be in a routine by 12 weeks! Mine is five months now and has no real routine but you know what it doesn’t matter. #PoCoLo

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