Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Babies and Culture
I have been thinking about the pressure put on mothers by our culture, especially in regard to newborns and babies under a year old. There seem to be so many unrealistic expectations floating around that seem to over look the nature of babies and the heart of a mother.
It begins before the birth, with all and sundry wanting to know what gender the new baby will be, with expectant mothers being regaled with every horror birth story known (why do women do that to one another?) and advice being offered about everything from where the baby should sleep, what injections the baby "must" have and how to make sure you get "me" time once the little one has arrived!!!
Everyone seems to have an opinion, often people without children seem to have the loudest ones ; )
Whoever said a baby should do anything? So called "experts" from the 50's? I think they started a wind that grew into a cyclone of misinformation and pressure on women to conform, to have a "good" baby, to be seen to be a "super mum". Isn't it beyond time for women to take back what has been stolen from them?
They could start by listening to their instincts, surrounding themselves with voices of experience and women who imbue them with confidence in themselves, "secret women's business" some might call it and it's been lost for too long. If younger women don't have an older experienced mother to guide them and encourage them, they need to find at least one! Top priority. Essential. Look at their relationship with their older children and the behaviour of those children. If you like what you see, are impressed, listen and observe their mothering, ask questions. They can share their wisdom with you.
A new baby is a unique blessing. No book has been written about him or her yet. The mother is the "expert". She's been learning and growing with the baby for around nine months before it's in her arms. Of course Dad's are important too, but they don't have the honour of carrying that little one under their heart, so uncomfortably in the later stages, for all that time, not to mention the birth itself.
Babies belong in their mother's arms most of the time. To be fed from her breast, to hear her heartbeat, that beautiful familiar sound they love, to be secure and warm and ever so well loved. They will naturally sleep best there, be comforted there, drink the liquid love right there.
What kind of culture do mothers and babies do battle with every day? The kind that says babies should be fed on schedule, sleep at times convenient for the parents, make as little noise as possible and sleep in their own cot in their own room from day 1. This is the culture that also says women are only worthwhile beings if they are in the paid work force, so artificial feeding and child care/school is inevitable. What a lie that is! and who perpetuates that lie, women! How ironic. How sad.
What if babies were a blessing? (of course, they are!) What if women could develop the self confidence and understanding they need while learning how to be a mother, on the job training so to speak. What if that sweet little baby could teach the woman how to be a mother, if she would only listen and watch and respond as her heart tells her. As her aching breasts tell her. As her heart full of unconditional love tells her. Maybe then this "culture" would fade into the background, with the countless opinions of people who don't know YOUR baby, and you could be the mother you were destined to be? Dare you risk it? I pray you do.
There is a path that leads to freedom, freedom from the expectations of others, from culture, from being someone you don't want to be with children you don't actually like. You CAN follow your heart, feed your baby when he/she needs to feed, (you cannot over feed a fully breastfed baby) sleep with your baby without fear of smothering them (anyone who is not under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol can safely co-sleep) use disposable nappies guilt free (research has proven cloth nappies have a similar environmental impact to disposables) and skip the PKU blood test, the Hepatitis injection and all the immunisations without criminal charges being laid. You can stay at home forever and do the most important job in the world, be a mother.
You can take back your right to mother as you please, no apologies to anyone.
Look carefully at where our "culture" has taken us over the last 60 years. Rampant functional illiteracy, 36,000 children in out of home care across Australia, an obscene rate of abortion, scary promiscuity in younger and younger children, a terrible rate of drug and alcohol abuse, so many children with no respect for authority, parental or otherwise, criminal activity in younger and younger children, more and more parents giving up trying to parent in despair.
We can make different choices for our babies. They depend on us for everything! What an honour it is!
We can ensure they have the best start and the best future! Why follow a culture/system in disarray? Why not choose a different path? Not the most popular path but just maybe the best one for you and your child. Maybe a path that was destined before you were even born.
You won't be alone. Some of us are already here, with our children and grandchildren. My love to you whatever path you choose.