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Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Best Mothering Advice I Ever Got

When I was a new mother, I felt woefully inadequate. Though I loved being a mom, I also felt like I didn't know what I was doing. Why did it seem everyone else was so much more confident than I was?

I knew I needed to become more assertive and confident the day I was at my mom's with my newborn daughter. Mom had rocked Jessica to sleep and asked, "Where do you want me to lay her?"
"It doesn't matter. Wherever you think best," I replied.
Mom looked at me, and as usual, knew what was going on inside me. "Linda," she said. "This is your baby. You decide what's best for her."

That was my wake-up call to being an assertive, confident mother.

Later, I read an article that helped me gain the confidence I lacked as a mom. I don't remember what magazine it was. I don't know who the author was. But I know that what it said stayed with me all these 30-plus years later.

In a nutshell it said, "You're this child's mother. No one knows her better than you do." I know that sounds simple, but it came back to me time and time again when I had no clue what I was doing as a mother. When my baby cried, she wanted ME, not someone else, and certainly not because I was so well-qualified, but simply because I was her mom. I was the one she trusted to care for her, with all my inadequacy, foibles, mistakes, and lack of confidence. Me!

You may not have all the answers either, but you do know how your baby likes to be held, what things most often make her cry, or stop crying. You know what her favorite toy is and that she needs her blankie to rub as she drifts off to sleep. You know her tickle spots and the way her eyes crinkle before she breaks into a smile. You know the way she likes to sway and which songs are her favorite. You know what sounds scare her and what makes her squeal with joy. You know far more about that little person God gifted into your care than you think you do.

And even if you don't know those things yet, it doesn't matter. She knows your heartbeat and your gentle touch. She hears your voice, feels your steady breathing, and the way you stroke her downy-soft hair and she's calmed. Why? Because you're her precious mama.

So rest easy. Ignore all the unwanted advice you receive and trust your gut. Ask God for help. Reach out to mothers you respect when you really need another opinion. But be confident that you're enough, because you are. Because God has and will continue to equip you, you'll learn this mothering thing backward and forward, inside and out.

And it will be the most glorious, excruciating, wonder-filled adventure you ever set out on.