Teri Parkhurst is a marketing and communications professional who is currently on maternity leave with her first child, a beautiful baby boy.
I’m no expert, but as far as I can tell so far, pretty much every day as a new parent comes with new questions. Is he eating enough? Too much? Is he sleeping enough? Too much? (That’s hypothetical, because I’ve never had to wonder if my kiddo is sleeping too much…).
Luckily, we live in an age when the answers to all questions are quite literally at our fingertips. Not so luckily, like so many things in life, there is a huge grey area on most topics. There always seems to be disagreement on what the answers to parenting challenges are, no matter how seemingly simple the question.
Even with seeking out only reliable sources of information, you can find advice that is all over the map on a variety of topics, and is sometimes even directly contradictory. Babies should follow a pattern of eat, play, sleep. Babies should never go to bed with an empty stomach. If your baby isn’t napping for the appropriate amount of time for their age, it’s because they’re overtired. Or they’re not tired enough. You should feed on demand. You should keep baby on a timed schedule. And so on, and so on. That doesn’t even begin to touch on different parenting philosophies or adjusting for your baby’s personality or a million other things I’m sure I haven’t even encountered yet.
Not long after our son was born, I said to my husband (half-jokingly, maybe) that I wished we didn’t have access to as much information as we did. It was honestly causing me more stress than it was helping. People have been having and raising babies for, well, forever, and the vast majority of those moms (and dads) did it without baby books or the internet or any way of connecting with thousands of bits of “expert advice” at the click of a button.
So what is a modern mom who can’t resist the urge to seek out answers to her questions to do? Well, I do still do a bit of parent-related googling, and my baby books are dog-eared and well-used, but I also rely heavily on what those pre-internet moms did (I’m assuming): I go to the wonderfully brilliant women in my life who are also moms, who have done this before—the moms who have been through the sleepless nights and the teething pain and the first foods. From my own wise mother to my awesome friends, I have this wealth of resources in my life that is even better than the internet, because they know and care about my son almost as much as I do.
In addition to asking the moms in my life lots of questions, I’m slowly building more trust in myself as a mom. Call it the gut, or mama’s intuition, or whatever you want, but there is truth to it when people say that no one knows your baby better than you do. I love that his dad and I can pick up on his sleep cues, or know when he’s hungry, or just needs a cuddle or a change of scenery. It still feels a little crazy, but we’re parents now, and it turns out that we do know what we’re doing—at least some of the time. And if we don’t, and all else fails, there’s always the internet to give us 100 different ideas on how to handle things.