Joella over at Fine and Fair often writes letters to her daughter (and now son, I would guess!) in the form of blog posts. Always beautiful and inspiring, she was kind enough to share this one with me...about the instinctual side of parenting.
Late Sunday evening...well no, technically it was early Monday morning, I was up nursing you back to sleep for the second time that night. You've been working on more teeth, which means you're waking up more than usual, which means I'mwaking up more than usual. The first day of the semester at school was upon me, and I desperately longed for a good night's sleep. I was feeling a little frustrated as I surfed around the internet a bit while you nursed, and then I happened upon Instinctual Mamas which lead me to a blog post encouraging 'Mommy bloggers' to write about what it means to be an 'Instinctual Mom'.
I glanced down at you, peacefully nursing with eyelids drooping, and my frustration melted away. I remembered that this very scenario, which happens far less frequently these days, is a part of my own personal brand of instinctual motherhood.
For me, instinctual parenting means anticipating, recognizing, and meeting your varying needs. It means that your needs are just as important to me in the middle of the night as they are in the middle of the afternoon. Instinctual parenting means that you are welcome in my lap, at my breast, and in my bed. It means that I will not leave you to cry alone, because the visceral reaction I have to the sound of your cry compels me to respond to it with care and concern.
Instinctual parenting means smiling and nodding when I receive unsolicited parenting advice from strangers that goes against every fiber of my being, feeling confident that our choices are the best for our family. It means recognizing that you have more than an 'Instinctual Mama', you also have an 'Instinctual Papa' who is a fully and equally capable parent. Being an instinctual mother means that I appreciate that in order to be fully present as a mother, I must not neglect the entirety of my person. It means that I should ensure that my own needs are met, and help your father meet his own needs, so that we can be more available to meet yours.
As an instinctual mother, I will do my best to cherish rather than detest your night time wakings and all of the minor annoyances of childhood. I know that the time will come all too soon when I will miss those quiet moon-lit snuggles, because eventually,being an instinctual mama will mean watching you set off on your own path, guided by instincts of your own.