I think of her often. The mother nursing two babies living in a hut in West Africa. The mother from Mongolia who left her baby bundled tightly on the bed while she tended to other things around the farm. While the rooster, and dog, and toddler tended to her infant.
When I was pregnant I watched a documentary called Babies. It follows the lives of four children around the world, for the first year or two of their life. The simplicity with which these women, and in turn their children, approached life was so refreshing to me during a period that seemed the opposite of simple. I spent more time than I’d like to admit gathering information (on pregnancy, baby gear, products, childbirth, parenting, etc.)
Unfortunately, this neurosis didn’t leave when my child entered the world a couple of months ago. Oh no, it intensified. And yes, I’ll talk to my therapist about it—but it turns out I’m not the only new mom desperately seeking information and answers to puzzling questions. My friends do it, too. There are loads of online forums devoted to moms searching for the same thing I am! (I find it peculiar, yet comforting, when I stumble upon another mother’s search for the same crazy thing I’m seeking information about, a kind of Internet camaraderie.)
Irony is humorous sometimes: I have degrees in psychology and human growth and development. But the point is, my child and I will probably be okay if I don’t find the answers to my questions. My quest for information doesn’t make me a better mother. Not once did I see any of the mothers in Babies do a search on their iPhones, while balancing a breastfeeding child, for what “crying for no reason” means. Ashamedly, I confess to you, I’ve done that.
Being a new mom is hard enough, and I think my generation is making it harder on ourselves than we need to. We’re bombarded with books and blogs and seemingly endless streams of information on everything imaginable. In an effort to make it easier, we’re making it more complex. My 89-year old grandmother commented recently that she wasn’t sure how she did it (raise three children) without all the gadgets and helpful books that we have today. But she did. And my mom did, too. Thankfully, Babies documents that the children did indeed survive that first year of life. I bet their mothers don’t know the 5 Ss, or own a Bumbo, or a Boppy, but one thing they do have is trust in their own ability to care for their children.
This blog combines the theme for last month, “Lectio my Life”, and this month’s topic of what children have taught us. I’ve reflected on what word or words God might have for me in this season of my life, and it didn’t take long for the word trust to come to mind. Information is good, but not if it interferes with a much more necessary tool of motherhood: intuition. Trusting my intuition is something that God has been teaching me lately. The definition of intuition is, “the ability to acquire knowledge without inference or the use of reason.” Clearly, I need this lesson. Simplicity is something my two-month old daughter is already teaching me. Children have such a pureness about them in the way they view the world. She doesn’t care what outfit she’s wearing—as long as she’s warm. She doesn’t mind that I don’t yet have pictures hanging in the nursery, or that most days I don’t wear makeup. But she lights up when I talk to her, when I give her my full attention. I’m so thankful for the ways God is already using this little one to teach me about the way He loves. I only hope I can reflect back to her the pure, simple love He gives. Trusting that He’s already equipped me with all that I need to love her is a good place to start.
How about you? How has the access to instant information (on anything from motherhood to machine guns) caused you to doubt your own intuition, to even doubt God?
What are the ways that you are being called to a deeper trust of yourself and of Him?
Joannah Sadler, LMFT, who is our Managing Editor and also looks after our Features section, divides her time between part time work for the journal, teaching, and working at Richmont Graduate University as a therapist. Joannah is married to Jason and lives in Atlanta.