Wednesday, August 1, 2012

On Mommy Gut

Emotional, sensitive, empathetic, and intuitive are all words that describe me. I feel everything so deeply. Throughout my life, I've been tempted to think of these qualities as "weak" or "inferior", and even told to toughen up from time to time.  Trouble is, each time I've made decisions while ignoring my heart's song, I've ended up in over my head in bad situations. A prime example was choosing a university program after being pushed into thinking a science degree was the only way to get ahead, and then essentially flunking out after my first year. Over the years that followed, I have learned (slowly, and sometimes painfully) that being emotional and sensitive is not necessarily a weakness. In fact, I would say that my ability to purge my unhappiness frequently by expressing it is healthy - I do not bottle up my feelings, and after a few minutes or even a day of feeling blue, I often bounce back to my better-adjusted self.

I parent by feeling things out in my heart and gut. I read everything I can get my hands on, and I ask for advice, but ultimately my heart and my gut makes the end decisions. I put faith into my mommy-gut that it will guide me to making the decision that is ultimately correct for Baby Bird, K., and I. The only decisions I regret making to-date are the ones where my mind said one thing, my gut said another, and I sided with my mind.

As my mother once said, after we butted heads briefly on differing philosophies, "The only people you need to make happy are [Baby Bird], K., and yourself. Screw what everyone else thinks."

People-pleasing is a tendency of mine which causes me a great deal of anxiety when the action required to please a person would also require me to ignore my intuition. At no point has this been more evident than since I became a parent. Trouble is, some days it seems like everyone tries to tell you how you need to raise your child, and people pleasers can get caught up in that haze of conflicting advice so easily. Still other days, I make assumptions about what others close to me expect of me that aren't even valid - often these people do not truly judge me for my parenting decisions, regardless of whether those decisions are congruent with their own beliefs or not.

I often think about how strong "Mommy Gut", or a mother's intuition, really is. Having been one to follow my gut feelings throughout my life, I am STILL blown away by how clearly a mother's intuition will speak to her. I don't have to sort through a confusing array of thoughts and feelings to find my answer - it is right there telling me in no uncertain terms what to do.

I believe that all we can ever do as parents is trust ourselves to decide what is best for our children. That's not to say there is never a season for asking advice or seeking facts, just that your parental instinct will ultimately guide you to do what is best for you and your child. And if what you feel and ultimately decide is right for your children isn't congruent with popular opinion, or what other people think you should do, screw 'em (to put it somewhat less eloquently than the rest of my post).


Amy said...

I relate to this too! Before having a baby I pored over "the books" (and some days I still do) but ultimately I am learning to trust my gut. People are right when they say you'll figure it out when you have a baby of your own.

Tiffanie A said...

Your mom gave you some great advice!

Anonymous said...

In my 51 years on this earth I have always use my gut feeling..whether it is mommy gut feelings or just life's gut feelings..Ok I should not say always..the times I did not I learned I SHOULD have. Instincts...a woman's, are very strong. You are doing an amazing job and what your mom said..she is wise :)) - Laurie