I’m so happy to have a guest post from my good friend and doula Talitha Phillips today. She’s worked with Aden in the past and her and I have had many discussions about how Adam and I want to parent. Her perspective is amazing, so I’ve enlisted her to give you guys some food for thought and explain a little about how we choose to parent. Hope you love, and can connect, with this post.
Let’s face it, or publicly admit it, parenting is hard. It’s also beautiful and wonderful, but wouldn’t it be nice if each little bundle of joy came with a perfectly designed instruction manual? Not to mention if the demands of the world (families, siblings, spouses, jobs) could silence long enough for us to master this new addition.
For the past fifteen years, I’ve had the privilege of working with families during this sweet and often challenging time. One of the greatest things I’ve learned as a doula and as a mommy is to stop focusing on the answers (especially since often there are none) and to start asking questions that can help us embrace and enjoy the journey. It’s scary to feel like we don’t know what we’re doing, but by not having set guidelines, there is a beautiful opportunity in motherhood – we get to be a part of creating homes and families that reflect our values and fit within our lifestyles.
As Tamera recently prepared to return to work, we had many heartfelt conversations. We’re both wives, moms of multiple children, have incredibly busy and demanding work schedules, and want the best for our families. Yet there’s something about being a mom in our culture that tries to label us.
We hear: “Are you a traditional or an attachment parent?” “Do you breast or bottle feed?” “Do you work or stay home?” “Do you let your baby cry it out or not?” Instead of being simple and maybe even silly questions, we’ve allowed these questions to define us. Furthermore, we translate the questions into, “Do you love your baby?” “Are you a good mom?” Or my favorite, “How screwed up will your kid be?”
This video illustrates it so perfectly:
As parents we have one important thing in common–to love and protect these little ones that have been entrusted in our care. Instead of focusing on the potentially divisive approaches to parenting, I help create what’s best for the family. We talk about priorities, lifestyles, and goals. One of my favorite questions is, “Do you need the baby to fit into your world, or are you comfortable letting the baby set the schedule?” There are no right or wrong answers; it’s about navigating through the process and then making adjustments.
As I’ve watched Tamera embrace motherhood, I’ve seen her and Adam work as a team to create a parenting style that upholds their values and makes their life manageable. This includes sleep and feeding schedules, and everyone sleeps in their own beds; it means less baby sitters; it involves discipline and potty training and, at times, battles over toddler meals and tantrums. It also includes laughter, snuggles, bedtime stories, kisses, playtime, and date nights.
How we choose to parent is simply our unique way of expressing love for our children. We will make mistakes, but we’ve been given these children to love and nurture and we need each other’s support. Today, when we encounter another mom or dad, let’s not critique or label. Let’s instead appreciate the ways they are caring for their little ones and tell them they’re doing a good job. You never know, it just may be the very thing that encourages them to do it all over again tomorrow.