I’ve found that there are two dangerous traps one can fall into when entering motherhood.
First, the idea that you know everything.
Second, the idea that you know nothing.
In the beginning I found myself in the first trap. For example, I decided NOT to pay $25 for a breastfeeding course because women were literally designed to feed babies from their bodies… why do I need to PAY someone to teach me how to do the most natural thing in the world, right? (I’ll wait for the laughter of the mom readers to die down… haha!) When the time came to learn the nuance of nursing, I realized that there were many things I would have liked to know about – bleeding & cracking, counting poops, waking them up to eat every 3 hours, saving & storing breastmilk, proper latching, etc.
Another example of thinking I knew it all was sleep training. We were GOING to have that baby that slept well because I’m the mom & when I say it’s time to sleep, it’s time to to sleep. No sleep crutches. Just blissful slumber right on schedule. For more detail on how this went for us, check out this post…
So what do you do when you realize you fell into the trap of thinking you knew everything? If you are me, you cry a little, do a Bible study on the word “humble” & all its derivatives, & try not to fall into the second trap.
Which I did. There were times I felt like Prissy in Gone With the Wind after proclaiming her expertise when it came to babies – “I don’t know NOTHIN’ about birthing babies!!!!” as she broke down into a panicked mess when the moment actually came for her to deliver Melanie’s baby in middle of a Civil War battle.
Zero. Confidence. My main example for this is baby-led weaning. Right after reading the book, I was good to go, giving him whole finger foods the day he turned 6 months. And then for some reason (after hearing a horror story I won’t repeat) I became super nervous about Baby J eating solid foods. So for a few weeks his solid diet was pretty limited – not that he minded because he is a milk monster & wasn’t really into solids anyway. When it was time to eat, I had autonomic responses, turned all extraneous sound off so he could concentrate, & snapped at my husband anytime he made him smile for fear that he would inhale his food while laughing. For some reason, I felt that if I couldn’t do it the “right way,” I was hurting my son, so I forced myself to an uncomfortable place, which was hurting my blood pressure in the meantime.
The sleep regression along with the solid food journey came to a point one afternoon in my kitchen. I was chopping vegetables on my awesome handmade wooden cutting board with this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I wasn’t comfortable – I was standing weird & my arm was at this odd angle. Then I had the novel thought “Why I am doing it this way?” I rewound to 2 minutes earlier & realized that I set up my cooking space like I was about to take a photo for Instagram: cutting board nicely in line with the counter, vegetables at a 90 degree angle & the knife perfectly parallel. Stay with me… I then asked myself, “Why don’t I just turn the cutting board so that I’m not in pain? That would be much more efficient & way less stressful.” Then God in His humor took it further. You can probably guess where.
Just because someone wrote a book on it doesn’t make them the expert on your child. Experts in their field have their place. Then there are mom bloggers who temper their money-making tone of absolutism by humbly giving you permission to say… “It’s relative.” The only expert you should listen to all the time is your Creator. He is the perfect balance of absolutism (John 14.6) & shunning the status quo (1 Peter 2.9-12). And as a side note, Mom Guilt is no laughing matter, it is a spiritual attack that He warns against & heals for you (Romans 8.1).
Proverbs is full of two terms that are the answers to the two traps here. Humility & Wisdom. Humility will keep us from making unneeded mistakes (Proverbs 16.18). Wisdom will help us discern what advice to bring into our homes & what to throw out (Proverbs 14.1). Don’t let another book become your Bible & don’t let someone else’s confidence steal yours. Don’t be afraid to turn the cutting board, change it up & listen to your spirit when it’s asking you to shield it from the expectations of others.
After I turned the cutting board literally, I began doing it figuratively. This is when Baby J’s mattress got put on the floor. This is when I made my own baby food in the consistency & quantity I was comfortable with. This is when I stopped feeling bad for holding him “more than I should.” This is when I prayed more & began feeling closer to my Father, as if letting go of intelligent strangers’ expectations made room for God to lead me forward & cheer me on.
And if anyone is wondering about my son as I struggled through this spiritual revelation, he is happy & thriving on slightly less milk, a lot more solids, & much better sleep!!
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, & the life: no man cometh unto the Father except by Me. – John 14.6
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praise of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers & pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. – 1 Peter 2.9-12
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. – Romans 8.1
Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16.18
Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. – Proverbs 14.1