If there is one thing I've learned in mama-hood, it's that all mamas do it differently.
Formula, breastmilk, co-sleep, rock to sleep, cry it out, cloth diapers, Pampers/Huggies/Luvs, make baby food, buy baby food, skip baby food, organic food, Cheetos, juice, no juice...
Lucky for me, I am surrounded by so many amazing mamas, mamas who I frequently ask for advice and opinions and input. And what I usually do is take said advice from all those mamas, using little bits from each one, doing what works for my family and my children.
Because every family, every child is different.
But you know who is also different?
We have different instincts. Different guts telling is what is okay and what is not. Different things that pull on our heartstrings. Different situations that challenge us. Different scenarios that cause us insane amounts of worry.
And what I've come to learn in the 4.5 years of being a mama?
It's okay to be different than other mamas you know, okay to want to do things differently, okay to feel differently about how you approach mama-hood.
Ever since CK was born, I have been a worrying mama. The type of mama who had a hard time being away from her baby. The type of mama who didn't have a bone in her body that wanted to spend time away from her daughter, who didn't even go away for a night with her husband, sans bambino, until her daughter was almost two years old.
And you know what?
To all of those people who eye-rolled, who said YOU NEED TO GO AWAY, who couldn't believe that's how I approached motherhood... it was what worked for me, what felt right for me and my little crew.
And to those mamas who have opportunities to spend time away from your kiddos and are okay with it and - gasp - enjoy it - I think that's GREAT! Because that's what feels okay, what feels right, what works for you and your little crew.
And it goes beyond just spending time away from your kids. For example, some mamas hover. Some mamas sit and relax and watch their kids try and fail and try again, maybe even getting a few boo boos along the way.
I like to think that I'm somewhere inbetween the hover-ers and the relax-ers, probably leaning more on the side of hover-er. However, I'd also like to think that in my 4.5 years of trying to figure out how in the world to be a mama, I'm becoming more and more relaxed.
Probably because I now have a son who pretty much forces me to have to let go and take lots and lots and LOTS of deep breaths.
I think I'm learning that I can't always be right there for them - I won't always be there holding their hands. I remember after CK was born, I had this moment of panic, like.. HOW IN THE WORLD DO PEOPLE LET THEIR CHILDREN GO TO COLLEGE!? CK IS NEVER GOING TO COLLEGE, SHE'S NEVER LEAVING THIS HOUSE WITHOUT ME.
Now obviously that's not true, but I just couldn't imagine how you, I guess, let go of them.
Clearly I'm not ready to ship my kids off to Harvard quite yet, but what I am ready to do is let go a little. To take a step back, let them fall down, get a scraped knee, learn on their own.
One of my dear friends said something at our bible study group a few weeks ago that sticks with me, something I will always, always hold near and dear to my heart.
This is God's child.
These children are God's children.
My children are God's children.
He has so graciously given them to me to love with all my heart while they're here on Earth, but they are his. So I can do that - I can love them with all my heart and try to teach them and nourish them and protect them - but I have to trust His plan for them and His plans for their lives.
So, as I still take everyday as a day to learn how in the world to be a mama - and most days I still fail miserably - I am trying with all my might to take a step back, to let them be, to let them experience, to let them feel, to let them live.
To love them and hug them and teach them and discipline them and learn from them.
And then to give them their wings, and let them fly.