"If I lived in a jungle, what would I do?" —
That's a mantra that Early Mama reader Kelsey emailed to me a couple months ago, in an effort to get in touch with her own intuition. Because all of the rules and standards and "do this because that expert said so" is driving her bananas.
And so I thought it was worth bringing up, especially because "Following Our Intuition" is one of the 10 challenges of young motherhood. We might be more reliant on experts and by-the-book standards because A) we often don't have friends who can give us a reassuring "you're doing fine" pep talk, and B) well-meaning parents/aunts/older family members might get pushy about antiquated/contradictory baby standards because what could we possibly know? Neither of these things are unique to young moms, but we might not have the confidence to believe in ourselves.
Like I told Kelsey, our younger age doesn't negate our intuition.
But you know what? I think it's more a side-effect of being a modern mom. Because while The Age of Information can be a comforting, insightful addition to motherhood — we have communities! and virtual mom groups! and Twitter feeds! — it can also bombard us with way too much information. It can increase our fears, our comparisons, our self-doubt. It can unintentionally create noisy static over the gentle hum of our instincts.
So let me be the one to day it: You're doing just fine.
Whether you're working or finishing school or staying home with your kids, you're doing the very best you can to provide a safe and happy life for your child. If you sometimes lose your cool in front of the kids, you're human. If you eat deli meat during your pregnancy, you'll live. If you let your babies cry it out, or sleep in your bed, or wear disposable diapers, they'll be fine.
Because here's the thing: No one knows you or your baby better than you do. In my opinion, it's way more important to be confident and consistent than following all the "rules" (which inevitably change from year to year).
So maybe next time you're in the thick of a parenting dilemma, stop and think: "If I were living in a jungle, what would I do?" — with no one to judge, criticize, or even see.
What would YOU do?
Tell me: Do you have a parenting mantra that gets you through the tough moments, like Kelsey?