The first thing I felt when I found out that I was pregnant was fear. I’d prayed for that moment, and it came sooner than I had expected so I felt very unprepared. Of course, I now know that in fact, nothing will ever prepare you for parenthood – whether it was planned or a surprise. But that evening, the home pregnancy test confirmed to me that I actually had no idea what I was getting myself into and with that came the question: will I be a good mom?
Motherly worry and doubt starts then doesn’t it? As soon as you’re aware of the fact that you’re building and growing a little human in your body, you worry about it. You wonder if you’re eating correctly, if you’re taking the right brand of prenatal vitamins, reading the right books. For me, it didn’t help that amongst my doubts and worry was the beginning of people’s unsolicited opinions and advice. From what they thought was appropriate for me to wear, to whether I was going to have a natural birth or caesarian. Posing such questions to me during a time that I was very confused and emotional was expecting the impossible. So I was counting on motherly instinct to help me be a good mom once he was born.
Not long ago, I had an eye-opening conversation with a workmate of mine. She’s a mom of two and said she was still waiting for her motherly instinct to kick in. When her children were babies, she read every single thing about how to care for them. For example, she read in a book that a newborn needs to eat every 2-3 hours so she fed her son every 2-3 hours and didn’t give herself room to figure much out on her own. Her understanding of motherly instinct was very different to mine. So she asked me to explain it to her and how I knew what I was doing for Kai was right.
For me, I define motherly instinct as a bond, the need to protect our children and the unexplainable reason why I was able to understand what Kai wanted or needed. When Kai was a few weeks old, I got irritated whenever someone automatically said he’s crying because he’s hungry, especially when I had just fed him. And while yes, he did of course cry from hunger but there were times that he was just simply in need of a cuddle. Just a little snuggle or kiss to assure him, not necessarily milk. I knew that. Before and more than anyone.
Probably the best way to explain instinct is to look at nature. Most mammals and animals’ first instinct is to protect their young, keep them alive and safe from predators. The fact that we trust books, apps and other foreign sources shows how detached from nature we are. No one teaches them that, they just know. And so for me, that’s the best way I could find to explain it to my work friend. It’s not only the content you read in books or advice you hear. It’s about combining that with your own experience. Knowing what to do, listening to your inner voice and automatically taking action when you actually haven’t even come across that information anywhere else yet.
I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but almost two years into this motherhood journey and I can say that I’m now confident in how I mother my son. I think it’s because I practised listening to my instinct. The more I listen to it, the more I trust it because I’ve learned that it’s rare for it to be wrong. I always do things with the best of intentions, I allow myself to be human and ask for help – whether from my husband, Kai’s nanny or family – when I need it. And I accept it when it’s offered, as I know it’ll make me a better mom. I hear people out and welcome advice when it’s asked for (thank you A&L mama tribe), but I also adapt what I hear to what will work for me, what I’m comfortable doing and if I think it’s for Kai. For example, his doctor recommended that we take him off his bottle when he turns 1, but I saw he wasn’t ready for it. So we made the decision to keep him on it, and now he’s naturally weaning himself off. Don’t get me wrong, there are still moments and days when I wonder if I know what I’m doing, but I also know that’s okay to do. It means I’m evaluating myself and pushing to do better.
It can take awhile to trust your motherly instincts and abilities, but I think the only way to do so is to remind yourself that you’re the only mother your child has, and by that virtue, he or she has the best mom for them. You already have everything you need to be a good mom to your child. You have you. And no one knows your child better than you do.
To celebrate real moms and real motherhood, I’ve partnered up with Dove this Mother’s Day to give away a gorgeous hamper of the Baby Dove range to a beautiful mama. Look for this photo on my Instagram feed and enter there before Wednesday 16th May for your chance to win.
*Sponsored by Dove
Happy Mother’s Day fellow mamas! When did you become confident in your mothering skills? Are you still getting there? Let me know below.