At 33 I don’t consider that I’ve had enough experience in most of Life to claim any particular level of wisdom. To me, wisdom isn’t something you learn in a book. Wisdom is earned. In the trenches. By falling down over and over. And then picking yourself up and taking another step. In fact, as I look over my relatively few years as a grown up, the areas about which I have gained any wisdom worth sharing aren’t littered with rose petals and memories of sheer delight or unmatched success. I see some bruises, some injuries, some residual scars that remind me of lessons learned. As much as I hate admitting it, though, the hard lessons are the ones worth learning.
This week an organization dedicated to espousing a particular approach to parenting infants is hosting its annual leadership conference. Since 2004, Tulip Girl has faithfully hosted her own online week dedicated to creating a platform for voicing concerns over the Growing Families International parenting materials. While I have much to say about Gary Ezzo’s infant parenting guide On Becoming BabyWise (and not all bad things by any means), that is not the purpose of this post. Rather, as God would have it, a Divine intersection of opportunity and gentle encouragement was presented to me in the last 24 hours, and I want to share that here.
This morning, following an insightful post from my dear friend Megan, I sent the following note to a friend who will welcome Baby #2 in a matter of days:
Hi, friend! I can’t believe I didn't realize Baby’s arrival was so close! I'll be thinking of you next week.
I thought I'd send you a quick note just in case you may find this helpful later on. I did BabyWise with my first daughter (who is now 5 1/2!!!) and it worked beautifully. 27 months later my son was born. I tried the same approach and had very little success. In fact, it turns out he is just a very different person than she is, and that was reflected in their different responses to the BW approach.
With my youngest daughter (now 9 months), I actually took an almost completely child-directed approach (we keep a solid routine, but lots of variation within that basic routine) and it has been a wonderful experience.
I only raise this because, like you, I had a baby who did very well with BW first, so when things got rough with my little man I was at a loss. I wish someone who had gone through it before would have gently told me that it was okay if the "system" didn't feel right with subsequent bambinos!! In the course of all this I found some fabulous support and other resources that have been very helpful. I'd be more than happy to share those with you if at any point you're interested.
All the best to you next week! I can't wait to hear the big announcement and see pictures!!
I typed the note in a hurry (on my iPhone) and went about my morning. A few hours later, I reread what I wrote, and it brought tears to my eyes. Not tears of sadness or regret or even, really, joy. But tears of awe over how many sleepless nights and wild emotions and fears and questions and answered prayers were all bound up and represented in those three paragraphs. Tears of deep-rooted satisfaction over that feeling I remember so well, each time I came to know something new and unique about each of my babies’ personalities.
And, above all, tears of immense, indescribable gratitude to a sweet Father who gently guided, and continues to guide, my heart as I work to make parenting decisions that are right by my babes.
I’m not an expert on parenting – not on teething rings or best bottles or discipline or whether my kids should call our friends Mrs. Jones or Miss Cara or, simply, Aiden’s Mama. But what I realize now is that I have earned a gentle, quiet confidence in making my best effort at guiding these munchkins. And most importantly, I have allowed myself to sink deeply into a bath of Grace that washes over my every step as a mama.
Ironically, none of the Grace and very little of the Wisdom I associate with my parenting journey has come from reading a book that claimed to make me Wise. And yet it is that Grace and Wisdom that I yearn for, and that brings me to closer communion with my Creator.
I beg God daily for Grace. I thank Him for even a thimble full of Wisdom. And I pray that whether your journey is in parenting children or loving your spouse or giving to your community, you will experience Grace through the rough spots and the gift of His Hand-Wrought Wisdom.
If you care to read from one of the most gracious, beautiful authors I know on a true Spirit-led approach to parenting, I encourage you to spend some time with Megan at SortaCrunchy. She shares her heart without reservation on all topics parenting, and I promise that you will be blessed in a tangible way.
photo by Raphael Goetter