Natural Mothering

This is not a rant. It’s not. Because I don’t rant any more. Honest.

I just “overheard” (in the way one does on the internet) someone saying something about “natural minded mothers” in relation to baby wearing. Inferring that baby wearing makes you a natural mother. Does that mean that NOT wearing your baby makes you unnatural?

Well, I’m of the opinion that doing what comes naturally to you is natural mothering. If it feels natural to wear my babies, I do it. There have been times when I did it a lot, in fact. I even own an Ergo and a Moby Wrap! If I find it uncomfortable and it is easier to alternate snuggling them in my arms with using a bouncy chair, that’s what I do. It feels natural to me. I didn’t read in a book that any of those things were good or bad, it’s just what I do. If you tried to breastfeed and it just didn’t feel right, didn’t come naturally to you, I’m not going to look down on you or berate you for bottle feeding. It’s different than what I do, but whatever. What feels natural to me may look unnatural to you.

We all love our kids, right? We want what’s best for them AND for us, right? My theory is that the very best we can give our kids is the REAL us, who we are without apology. What feels right and good to us without feeling like we need to follow a specific system lined out in a book (or multiple different books) written by someone we’ll never meet.

This is also a confession: I lived the perfectionist parenting life for a long time. I hurt my kids with it. I hurt myself with it. Eventually I realized that it was strangling me. I was following someone else’s rules that might work well for many people but just stress me out. So I relaxed, walked out of that perfectionism and I am now at peace with my parenting. The thing is, perfectionist parenting can fall on either side of the scale. I have known people who have been so convinced of a certain system that they have sacrificed their children to it, not to mention their sanity. It suddenly becomes impossible to do something you want to because at some point, someone or something told you it was “wrong” or “bad.” I’m not talking about abuse here – I’m talking about giving your eight month old yogurt even though you read somewhere that you shouldn’t give them any dairy until they are one year old (that would be my story, or part of it, anyway).

And listen, I know what some people will think when they read this, because it’s exactly how I used to think. “But the way I’m doing things has been proven to be good for children. It’s right, it’s best, it’s good.” Okay, I’ll give you this much: It may be right, best and good for YOU, but you can’t possibly say it is those things for every other mother out there. We are all different women so why would we all be the same type of mother? Is it because we feel the need to prove ourselves as good moms? We shouldn’t need to prove anything to anyone – we should just LOVE on our kids.

What is right, best and good for ALL children is this: food, shelter, love and a mama who is free to do what feels right, whether it’s in a book or not. If no one else is doing it or everyone else is doing it.

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2 thoughts on “Natural Mothering

  1. I love this. It is profoundly refreshing to read your thoughts on the subject of parenthood that echo my own after “overhearing” opinion after judgmental-higher-than-thou-opinion on The Face and elsewhere. Thank you. :o) The inevitable fall from perfectionism — it actually feels a lot more like relief than failure. It is so much easier to lean on God’s perfection, anyway, and to give away the grace and kindness that we ourselves need as parents (at least I certainly need it).

    • Thank you, Leah. It has been good for me to read back over some of the things I’ve written in the past (this one was written over eighteen months ago). I still fight perfectionism and I’m still walking out of it. Having six kids (even five) forced me out of the worst of it because I just do not have the time or energy to use my brain that much. 😉

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