“What sort of mother are you going to be?”
Written by Katrina Voysey local, experienced Psychotherapist and Couples Counsellor
It sounds strange now, but before I became a mother, it had not occurred to me that there was more than one way to be a mother. And I wasn’t expecting so many decisions – times when I’d ask myself “what do I do now?”
Its tempting, when faced with so much uncertainty to look for certainty – whether that’s the opinion of another person or an expert in a book or on a website. However if you can ride out the anxiety of not knowing, then ultimately the path of becoming a mother will be easier and more fulfilling.
Gradually you will start to notice patterns in how your baby responds to you and the wider world. Maybe your baby is easily startled, or hates baths, or seems to have no regularity to her sleep and feeding times or maybe your baby seems to enjoy more carrying and is regular in his sleep and feeding.
If you can try and read your particular baby rather than any particular book about babies, you will soon discover who your unique baby is and how better to care for him or her. Of course you will make mistakes, but that’s human and your baby only needs you to be good enough, not perfect.
Ultimately a deeper relationship of trust and knowing develops between you and your child. A strong relationship that will last beyond babyhood. Which is helpful as children never grow out of their capacity to surprise and worry their parents!
A very approachable book if you want to read more about how mothers come to know and respond to their babies is “What Mothers Do – especially when it looks like nothing” by Naomi Stadlen. It may satisfy any mother of a young baby who asks themselves “what do I do all day?” However if a stranger asks you, as a mother, what you do, the best summing up that I’ve come across is “I teach modern civilisation.”
When you think about how many different ways we can live our lives and intimate relationships, it would be pretty extraordinary if there were only one way to be a mother. If despite the frustrations and limitations, you can find the courage to trust your instincts, to experiment and to find the path that suits you and your child, then your experience will be much richer.
It is a great gift to give any child, to see and accept them as they are and to want to love and care for them in a way that meets their needs. The resources that you develop or call on to do that and the love your child returns can make that initial anxiety worthwhile.
Katrina Voysey is a local, experienced Psychotherapist and Couples Counsellor, registered with BACP. Clients with pre-crawling babies can (if they want) bring them into the parent’s therapy sessions.