When I was pregnant with my son, one of my OB doctors asked my husband and I what parenting style we were planning to use. I remember staring at him blankly, feeling like an idiot for not knowing how to respond, while he explained a few different styles and schools of thought. He was mainly just making conversation while he checked our baby’s heartbeat. He wasn’t pushing one particular style over another. Still, as I listened, I felt my own heartbeat start to race and my head start to spin.
I’d read a lot about pregnancy and labor. I considered options for my birth plan. But I realized I’d neglected to ponder the really important part. You know, raising the kid. And as a girl who ALWAYS does her homework, this was just unacceptable.
So, I dove headfirst into the deep pool of information that is the Internet and I came up sputtering. I was drowning in conflicting information. I’d read one perspective and think it made total sense. Then, I’d read the opposing view and think, “I can see their point.” Breastfeeding on demand vs. parent-led scheduling? Ferber method vs. “no-cry” sleep training strategies? Am I a “crunchy,” “all-natural” kind of mom? Will Stu and I be authoritarian or authoritative parents? If I hold him too much and rock him to sleep, am I going to make him a “bad sleeper?” But, I can’t let him cry too long! Maybe I am for the “attachment” parenting style after all. Whatever I do, I just don’t want to become a “helicopter” mom!
I was looking for a label that described what I felt was right for me as a mom and searching for the magic-bullet method that would solve all of our potential parenting problems. My husband told me to stop reading so much! But that is like telling me not to breathe. I want to be informed. The issue is that I also want to do everything right. Especially when it comes to parenting. I can’t screw this up. It’s too important. And thus began my motherhood identity crisis. Who am I as a mom?
Moms have so many resources now. So much access to great information. And yet, all of this information had me overwhelmed and confused. I asked my mom if she experienced this when she was raising us and she said that while she did read a few parenting books, they didn’t have as many resources back then. She said, “I just winged it.” And, I like to think that my siblings and I turned out pretty great (thanks Mom and Dad).
Her comment prompted me to think back to a time when I felt like I made the best decision for MYSELF, without worrying what was right or wrong or what other people thought. It was my birth plan. Which was a plan to NOT have a plan. That’s right. The girl who always does her homework and plans to do everything just right went into labor armed with resources and knowledge of her options but decided to “just wing it” anyway. I didn’t stress over it.
My thought process was: I’ve never done this before. I really don’t know what it’s going to be like. I’ll just be as informed as possible and prayerfully make decisions as I go. And guess what, I rocked it. For a girl as uptight as me, I can’t believe how mentally relaxed I was going into labor. Even when I was surprised by serious circumstances outside of my control and had to be induced early, I did not panic.
The key was, I was looking at the big picture and trusting God with the details. I knew that in the end, it wasn’t going to matter if I took the drugs or not, had an epidural or not, had to have a c-section or not. Nope, all that mattered was that I was going to be a mom when it was all over. I focused on that while I prayed for a safe delivery. And self-proclaimed “anxiety-girl” felt mostly peace.
Ultimately, who am I as a mom? I am a mom who is equipped by the Lord. He has given me a great partner in a godly husband who leads our family well. He has given us His word as the ultimate guide to parenting. Through the Holy Spirit and prayer, He promises to guide and direct us. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I should take a lesson from my labor story and apply it to parenting. I should focus on the big picture and then trust God with the details. I can be informed of my options and then prayerfully make decisions as I go. I don’t have to subscribe to one particular method and put a label my parenting. But if I had to name it, I think I’d call it the “on a wing and a prayer” motherhood style. And I think I’ll rock it because it’s a method that’s tried and true by someone who always knows best. My own mom.