What a visit from my mom taught me about how I want to mother

mothering a mother

It has been an interesting journey, this mothering thing so far. I’ve thought about a range of things, from not letting my baby “cry it out”, how I gauge our time together, how I assess her progress, and even when and how I will start weaning her. I knew I wanted to raise a genius and a bookworm, as well as a woman who is strong and empowered while still compassionate and loving. I have so many big dreams for Harley, and so many ideas about parenting. But the latest visit from my mom has solidified a bunch of them, and expanded some others even more.

A bit of context – my mom and I are close. We have obviously had our fair share of squabbles or whatever – I don’t know any woman who matures to adulthood without having the teenage fights with her mom – but we got very close when my parents divorced. After my traumatic birthing story, we talked every day on Skype, and have continued to do so ever since. So we are “caught up” as far as telling each other the day to day stuff goes, but also as far as talking about the bigger issues or stories. But it’s still so different being in person.

From the moment my mom arrived, I knew that I was comfy with her way of interacting with Harley. Sure, we had to tell her the positions that Harley prefers – she loves to be able to stand or sit up rather than be held lying down. But mom was such a natural with her, and most importantly, I loved the way she talked to her. It was how I remembered my mom talking to me as a kid, using a full and extensive vocabulary, but also being incredibly silly. She’d ask Harley how her thesis was coming, or her opinions on Trump being the presumptive nominee, or any number of topics. It was adorable and hilarious. Plus, because she could do this while I was working, it meant that I was able to focus on getting my stuff done and still know that Harley was beyond taken care of – she was getting stimulated and enriched and loved. Every time I’d hear mom singing, or discussing silly things, it would make me smile.

The best part, though, was how encouraging mom was of me. She kept telling me how great a mother I am, how wonderful I am with Harley, how amazing Harley is doing because of the interactions that Dean and I have with her. It’s not that I’m desperate for compliments or something, but it’s so nice to have my efforts validated, to have someone notice the efforts that Dean and I make for our little one. Parenting often feels like a thankless job, and it’s just so nice to have someone pause and say that we’re doing a good job.

I knew I wanted to be Harley’s safe place, to give her support and take care of her no matter what. I knew that I wanted to expose her to the world, to teach her about so many things, to play games with her and watch movies and read books and sing songs. I want to travel with her, take her to nice restaurants, learn how to bake together. But most of all, I want to validate her experience, to acknowledge her truths and to ask the right questions to help her figure things out for herself.

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