Being a Good Mother

They are very round!

That’s what I always think when I’m teaching my class, “Understanding Your Newborn,” to twenty very pregnant ladies and their husbands. It’s such a fun class. Parents-to-be are very motivated. They absorb information like sponges .

Mary Lou, a 32 years-old, is expecting her first baby. She had an appointment to see me right after the class. She came to hear about our well-child program and how I could care for her baby when he came.

Though relieved to know that this support was available, Mary Lou still looked troubled. She asked, “One more question: Should I wake the baby up to eat at night, or should I let her sleep?” Mary Lou went on to explain that she had read about the importance of making sure a newborn eats every three hours. “But my friend dressed me down. She has two babies and said, ‘You never wake up a sleeping baby.’ How am I supposed to know what do do?”

Mary Lou looked on the verge of tears. Her strong feelings seemed to be bigger than the question she was asking. Then I “GOT IT!” Mary’s words were actually saying: “Don’t your see? I am worried I won’t be a good mom, maybe not even a good enough mom!”

All new mothers worry that they are not ready for the job. But some worry can actually be the fuel to energize new parents to figure out how to be the parent they need and want to be. Feelings of insecurity are just part of the job description! “Your question, Mary Lou, tells me just what a great mom you will be. You already care so deeply about your baby and only want to do what’s best.” I go on to explain that together we will watch her baby and learn from him what will work best. “Your baby will be your greatest teacher!”

As I prepare to go home this evening, I marvel again that I’m actually paid to do this job! What a joy it is to support people at this important and vulnerable time in their lives. I remind myself again that often my job is not to answer parents' questions but to help them discover the answers themselves. By this process, new parents will discover their own strengths--and learn to trust their own eyes, their own hearts, and their own minds as they grow to understand and care for their newborn!