Sunday, May 9, 2010

Everyday Life: My mother taught me better

I used to sneak into her bed, snuggle way down deep under the covers and warm my cold feet against her legs -- always a dead giveaway that I'd made my way into her giant water bed. I'm sure the slight waves, ripples from my body were her first clue, but I'd always thought I was very sneaky.
I don't have a single memory of my mom chasing me out of her bed, which is why I found it funny that she used to encourage me to put my babies to sleep in the crib.
I'd refused her advice about crib sleeping citing studies and research and doctors' opinions on the benefits of co-sleeping.
But really, I should have just told her I was taking her lead. I was doing what felt natural, what felt right by sleeping next to my babies. And that was largely because of her, because of the many nights I spent cuddled against her warm skin in that big wavy bed. My brain hadn't forgotten the feeling of love and security she first instilled in my little heart by sharing her sleeping space.
Sometimes, even though it doesn't seem like I'm taking her advice regarding certain parenting aspects, at the heart of it, my parenting styles and decisions have been learned from her very actions.
From co-sleeping, breastfeeding and talking about issues with my little ones to teaching, traveling and hands-on learning, I can trace my actions and choices back to my mother.
Even the things I've chosen to do differently, like gentle discipline or co-sleeping from birth or birthing naturally at home, stem from my mom. She's the one who constantly offered me support, love and attention. She's the one who really helped me feel valued. And when a little girl feels valued, she grows up to value herself and her feelings and her instincts. I parent by instinct, and because my mom treasured me, I believe my instincts are valuable. My instincts tell me to fiercely yet gently love my boys, treat them the way I want to be treated.
So thank you, mom. And my boys thank you, too -- not only because they sleep in cushy beds but also because they have a mom whose heart beats love for them just likes yours still beats love for me.

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