“I have no idea what I’m doing.”
That pretty much sums up how I deal with motherhood. There are a lot of sources of information available today, more than my mother and grandmother ever had access to. There are so many tricks and techniques on how to make a baby stop crying, what kinds of food to give a picky eater. The truth is sometimes I feel more paralyzed than empowered with all this information. All the articles look credible. All the listicles look valid. Yet my stomach tumbles up and down with fear, wondering if choosing “A” over “B” is indeed the better choice. Analysis paralysis.
I turn to fellow mothers for advice a lot of times, asking about bedtime schedules and discipline techniques. Advice from my own mother is also highly valuable, though sometimes I do have this complex of not wanting to ask her for fear of her thinking me not capable of mothering. I know it’s an issue of “looking good” and that lack of vulnerability is something I have to deal with too.
My bookshelf is crammed with how-to’s and references to understand my child better, and cookbooks for healthy kid dishes. I haven’t read through all of them. They’re sitting on the shelf, one book stacked upon the other, waiting for their spines to be cracked. I don’t think that’ll happen anytime soon.
Because even if there’s a lot I don’t know, I’m okay with it. I’m okay with discovering that my son eats more heartily when he has a Magnum side by side his plate of rice and pork. I’m okay with finding out the messy way (through lots of spit on my shirt) that my son doesn’t like mint toothpaste and prefers a strawberry-flavored one.
I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know I’m doing it well somehow.
I feel it in the compassion my son has. We were going for a swim one day, but I backed out because of a stomachache. “I wish I could massage your tummy to be better, Mommy.” Last night I had a migraine and was lying down on the couch. He quietly approached me and started massaging my head with his little fingers. After a few seconds of quiet kneading, he asked me, “Do you feel better?”
I see it in his leadership style – commanding yet nurturing. “Izzy, put on your slippers!,” he shouted, chasing after his younger cousin who was running around the home barefoot, concerned that she might step on a toy or a worm. “Let’s go everybody! We’re hunting monsters!,” he shouts out to the kids in the playground, rounding them up as they follow his lead, moving stealthily on the grass.
I hear it everytime he says “Please” and “Thank you”. I hear it everytime he prays. It hear it everytime he tells me “I’ll always miss you Mommy” – when he knows I’m just off to work.
Motherhood is tough. There are a lot of things you feel you could be doing better. You can easily beat yourself up about it too. Over time I’ve learned to go easy on myself. It came with accepting that there are a lot of things I don’t know. Surrendering to not knowing helped empower me as a mother.
When I’m asked for advice, from breastfeeding tips to book recommendations, I give my own thoughts but usually throw the question back to the Mom. “What makes you comfortable?” “What is your son into? Dinosaurs? I know a good book on dinosaurs, maybe he’ll be interested in it…” It’s enough to guide a fellow Mom, but not dictate what she has to do. I find that more liberating and more encouraging.
I have no idea what I’m doing sometimes, but I know that at all times it comes from a place of love. It’s a good space to be grounded in, especially when you see your child growing up kind, compassionate, and gentle.
Then it makes me think maybe I do have some idea about what I’m doing. I’ll just carry on – guiding my son with much compassion, nurturing him always from a place of love.