When I asked my mother which essential books about pregnancy and mothering mothers read when they were pregnant, she looked at me and frowned. She said that she never read any books about it. All she did was ask her mum for help and advice on most things and follow the doctor’s recommendations about feeding and sleeping, as long as they did not go against her instincts. So here I am, the living product of my mum’s intuition regarding the education, feeding and raising of healthy children.
A couple of years ago I told my mum that a friend of mine with a year-old toddler had started attending classes on “crianza natural” (rearing children naturally). My mum looked at me and laughed, saying “You are very complicated. If bringing up a child is a natural thing, why do you need to attend a course?” She is right. When it comes to raising our children we don’t rely on our feelings and emotions any more. I’m not saying that checking and revising is wrong, but giving a great deal of importance to other people’s opinions might affect our capacity to listen to our son/daughter. In this process of reading and looking for the best advice we lose our spontaneity, our connection with our own children and our awareness of the process we are living through.
However, I confess that when E. was little I read a lot, especially about babies’ sleeping, as he was a dreadful sleeper and we would spend hours trying to put him down in his cot again after feeding him at night. However, after reading many books, talking to friends, blogging in Spanish and English on how to get your baby to sleep and some eventual crying out of tiredness and desperation, the only thing that worked in the end was patience and the sense that I was doing my best. Whenever I’ve tried to follow instructions in a book I’ve just got nervous, so I’ve ended up adapting bits and pieces from here and there to make them fit my current situation. In fact, I did just what my mum suggested, but I managed to make it look like a very thoughtful and sophisticated process coming out of a new theory of bonding and attachment. My mum has never commented on this, but I’m sure she’s still laughing at it.
Sometimes I think that all those hours spent reading and searching through Internet blogs and forums would have been more usefully spent with another mum beside me to give me a great big hug and tell me: “This will pass: do what you think best for you and E.: and for God sake, stop reading!”