My mothering moment

May 29, 2013 · 11 comments

mother and childThe other night I put my daughter to sleep like I do every evening.

We went through her routine — a bath, getting into pajamas, nursing, and a lullaby. I laid her down in her bed and sang softly to her. She gurgled and kicked her legs until I kissed her. Then she stretched and relaxed, and I left the room. When I peeked back in to check on her a few minutes later, she was asleep.

She was five months old, and this was a scene I couldn’t have dreamed of with my first two children. It was in that moment I realized exactly what my children needed from me, and how different it was than what I’d thought as a new mother.

It wasn’t my presence, comforting, wearing them, rocking, patting, shushing, or any of the other things I thought I had to do for my children so they would feel safe and secure. I’d done that with her older brothers, and they never had the peace at night that she did.

All they need is my connection, and my support, and they do everything else happily on their own.

Every day it amazes me. I started off as a mother thinking I had to do everything for my children — teach them to sleep, sit, and eat; teach them courtesy, kindness, empathy, and on, and on, and on. As much as I hate to admit it, I thought my children were empty, and they needed me to fill them.

And then there was that moment. I’d heard children were capable right from the start, that they weren’t empty, but full of everything they needed: empathy, kindness, curiosity, peace, and motivation. In that moment with my daughter, I saw it. It was pure wonder. I thought I had to teach, to do, to make – but no! I only had to step back and let them be the amazing people they already are.

I’d seen glimpses before with my daughter. I trusted her from the very start, and I watched in awe as she learned. She would lay on her back and just study her hand, or the ray of light on the wall, or the speck of fluff that floated in the air. But that night when I put her to bed, when she told me with her actions and expressions how happy she was, and then peacefully drifted to sleep, that was when I knew. 

It hit me how incredibly capable she is, that all that power and insight and wisdom was already there behind her beautiful bright eyes. And ever since then I can’t stop seeing it in all my children. It’s a wonder of discovery every day.

One day my four-year-old son asked to make lemonade. When I turned around, he already had the juicer, sugar, measuring cup, cutting board, and the lemons. All he needed was for me to grab the knife and watch him carefully cut the lemons in half. Then he carefully squeezed both of them, scraped the pulp to extract all the juice, poured it into the mixing container, added the sugar, water and ice, and shook it all up. Then he got out cups for his brother and himself, and poured some for both of them. He did it all. I just had to sit back and watch him. We’d done it together once before, and he remembered every step.

And then there was the day my younger son, who just turned three, learned to ride his pedal bike. He’d had a balance bike for almost two years, and his face lit up when he realized the shiny blue pedal bike was for him. He tried it out, and couldn’t do it. He got frustrated and left it in the garage to ride his old bike again.

“He’ll get it when he’s ready,” I said.

The next morning he pulled the new bike out and tried again. When he struggled, the little girl next door reached out to steady the bike and walk with him. 

“No!” he said, “I can do it on my own!”

And with a few pushes, he could. He pedaled around the cul-de-sac and never looked back. 

I didn’t need to teach him. I didn’t need to remind my older son where everything was for the lemonade. I didn’t need to teach my daughter how to sleep. All I had to do was give them opportunities, and to be there. I didn’t even need to say it. I trust them. I support them.  When I realized how little else I needed to do, that was my mothering moment. 
They amaze me every day.

Photo credit: Tobyotter on Flickr Creative Commons

This post is part of BlogHer’s My ‘I’m a Mom’ Moment editorial series, made possible by Seventh Generation.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Donna May 29, 2013

Wow! What a beautiful essay. My children are grown now, 40 and 35, but I remember trying very hard to let them be and let them grow into themselves when the world of my generation was telling me to read Dr. Spock, make sure you do everything for your children, never let them cry, never let them be bored, fill every moment with reading and swinging and nurturing. I resisted all that. A child who is frustrated may cry for a little. A child who is bored may discover a new skill or virtue yet unknown to them. I think from the time they are three months old, they are in a mode of discovery. You are a very wise women for deducing these insights and seeing the results already in your children.

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2 Suchada @ Mama Eve May 29, 2013

What lucky children to have a mother who knew intuitively to step back and watch them grow! I wish I had been more like that when my older two were babies, but I’m glad I learned while they are still young. Thank you for your kind words.

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3 janetlansbury May 29, 2013

Such a beautiful realization and post, Suchada! Thank you!

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4 Suchada @ Mama Eve May 29, 2013

Thank you, Janet! I was very nervous and scared about having a third baby while my older children were still so young, but learning about RIE has made parenting fun, happy, and much less exhausting for me. I want to share my story with as many people as I can!

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5 Lisa Sunbury May 29, 2013

Suchada,

This is so beautiful and so true. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

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6 Suchada @ Mama Eve May 29, 2013

Thank you, Lisa! You’ve done so much to inspire me. I wouldn’t have had this journey without you.

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7 Stacy May 29, 2013

Such a nice reflection — loved reading it!

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8 Suchada @ Mama Eve May 30, 2013

Thank you, Stacy!

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9 Jessica @ Crunchy-Chewy Mama June 17, 2013

I sometimes think if I could just have a third child and use what I’ve learned, maybe I could come to such beautiful realizations and moments of appreciation and acceptance all the time. Of course, moments like those are there for me to have with just my two children at any moment I want to claim them. But there is something compelling about the idea of starting fresh and seeing things through new eyes. Thank you for capturing your bliss so beautifully!

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10 Marissa July 5, 2013

This is an AMAZING post! It made me tear up and think about my own daughter :) We need to cherish the moments we have with our children, they aren’t small for very long. Thank you for this beautiful post, I can really see into your heart that you are a great mother!

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