Today I had a conversation with an old friend who’s a new mom, and something she said really struck me:
You know, I’m learning to listen to my intuition. That I really do have a mother’s instinct that I can trust.
Two things struck me about this: (1) How I wish I had begun learning this as soon as she is (her baby girl is 5 months old) (2) Why on earth are we as moms so quick to listen to other voices and opinions on how to parent our child(ren) and so slow to listen to our own? Before you classify me as some motherhood mystic telling you to tune in to your inner voice, let me pause and say that I believe as people created to be like God, He is the one who is the ultimate author of this inner voice. He’s the one who gives us as moms the ability to nurture helpless babes into mature, independent adults (or so we hope and pray).
I’ll go a step further and say that for those of you who call God your Father through faith in his son Jesus Christ, you and I are promised that we will have all that we need for life and godliness. This isn’t found in myself and my own resources, but in the life of Christ living within me through the Holy Spirit. It’s in being connected through vibrant relationship to God that I will have the love and patience and grace and forgiveness and, yes, even mother’s intuition, that the journey of motherhood requires.
But I get distracted so easily. I tune in to 1000 other voices, and I can’t hear the one voice that matters most because I’m listening to all the wrong voices. The guilt from the voice in my head that says I’m not living up to my image of “ideal mom.” The experts offering their research on every topic from nursing to sleep training to discipline to creative development and everything in between. The well-meaning friends who give unsolicited advice when what I really wanted was empathy and support. [And I have certainly fallen in this category myself – forgive me, please?]
Another good friend who does in-home counseling for troubled families was teaching about discipline and said,
Let me start by reminding you that you are the top expert on your child.
I forget that, and then I go frantically looking for someone else to share with me something that may or may not fit my particular situation with this specific child who lives with a mom and dad with our distinct set of strengths and weaknesses. I’m not saying that I am stopping my research. Far from it. I am saying that I want to trust God and His Spirit at work in me shaping me and giving wisdom that I’ll need for parenting. This wisdom certainly includes the humility to learn from others who have gone before, who are walking alongside, who may even do it differently from me. But it’s a wisdom growing from within, supporting and bolstering my God-given shape as a mom and the one Voice that matters most.
I am deeply indebted to Sarah Dunning Park, who first began me on this journey of realizing I was listening to all the wrong voices as I read her beautiful book of poetry, What It Is Is Beautiful. Specifically her poem, “Book Learning.” If you don’t own this book yet, order one now – and go ahead and order 5-10, for the reasons stated in my review below:
In reading through this poetry book, I literally couldn’t put it down because what she’s writing is my story. I saw my frustrations about motherhood in black and white, as well as the tender moments, and the trying, and the grace. You will be refreshed as you savor the language and the topics, ranging from a hilarious piece entitled “Mom Jeans” to “Book Learning” that will move you to tears – and everything in between. It’s a book you’ll return to again and again to make sense of your daily ups and downs of motherhood, and you’ll want to share it with all your friends.