Parenting does not come with a manual. No matter how many classes you go to, no matter how many novels and learned books are written by the most experienced or educated humans on the planet. Those books and classes are guides and theories on how to do it. At some point, all you will have, all you will be able to do is to trust your parenting instinct.
That’s it. That’s all you will be able to do.
You can learn anything they teach you. You really can. If you were to really study parenting from the lessons, lectures, books, movies, podcasts, and any other way you want to learn, well you’d probably ace it.
But actually parenting YOUR child, this beautiful, infuriating little being that you created, moulded, shaped, fed, loved and care for … well that’s a whole different thing.
But studying something, and living it, are two different things!
Mums Are Superheros
Today I called my mom, who lives on another continent and cried to her about my child.
I cried to her about how I don’t know what I’m doing. About how, I don’t know how to do it. And about how I’m doing it all wrong. “F*cking it all up” is the term I think I used.
And you see, she parented me in the way that I needed. In the way that only she can parent me. Which is completely different to how she parents my sister. That’s because my sister and I are completely different human beings, with completely different needs.
And it doesn’t matter if I am 37, or if my child is 8. That makes no difference really. As parents, as mothers, this whole parenting malarky … it’s all unique uncharted territory. Even 8 years in. Even 37 years in.
The way we parent, and the way we need parenting is always unique, different and individual. Because every human on the planet is unique, different and individual.
The only thing we can ever really rely on … is our parenting instincts.
Our Mumstincts …
That feeling, that parenting instinct that a mother has about their child. That instinct where you just know when your child needs you. When you know that they had a bad day. When you know that it’s okay to let them go and try.
It’s a real thing
My mum lives in Zimbabwe, and I live in the UK. She swears she can tell when I need her, just by a one line Whatsapp message. Even if I sent that message 12 hours before and due to the power cut, or poor phone signal, she only gets it later. She can tell what kind of mood I’m in, or if something is bothering me.
My husband has often ‘joked’ about how they never cut the umbilical cord between my mom and I correctly when I was born. But now I know. It never is.
Because it’s the same with my daughters.
I can tell by her face when she is 15 meters away from me, coming out of her classroom door, before she’s even said a word to me. I can tell that something happened, or that she’s upset, or that she’s p*ssed off.
I can tell from the way she walks towards me with her head down and her shoulders slumped that sh has probably been told off, or is feeling left out, or needs a cuddle.
That’s my mumstinct – my parenting superpower.
When To Push & When To Pull
I read something by a friend of mine, who is also a parenting coach, about how sometimes she can tell when her daughter needs a little encouragement to cry. She called it a scheduled meltdown. I get it. Call it ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ … sometimes a mother knows when it’s time to place that straw on the camel’s back, to force their child over the edge, so that they can release their angst.
This is a mumstinct. Who else would even think to push your child to the point of crying, without doing it from a place of love, and to be there to pick up the pieces. If anyone else did that, it would just be cruel.
So today I will be trusting myself, trusting my maternal instincts when it comes to my children. I will stop doubting myself, and I will do my parenting job the way that I know is best for them. And that’s all any of us can really do.
And before you all get riled up, please … I’m not taking anything away from dad’s. If you are a dad reading this, and you have a dadsctinct, please write about it and send it to me so I can read about your perspective on this. I can only write from my perspective as a mum.
Believe In Yourself
That’s all any of us can really do. When you doubt yourself, by all means, go and seek advice or help. Learn the methods, get the training. But when it comes down to parenting your child, I think the best thing we can do is to believe in yourself and trust your mumstincts.
Please share this post with your friends on facebook, twitter, email, whatever. We all need a little reminder sometimes that we do have this, we do know what’s best for our kids, and we can believe in ourselves.