When my son was born, I desperately sought the advice of my mom and aunt. They showed me how to burp my son just so. They showed me how to clean him. They gave me so much great advice, and not so great advice. But, they were my Elders, and I was the New Mom.
In the following weeks and months, my circle widened. The Elders said that babies cry and there is nothing to be done, so put him down and walk away. They lamented over how much he ate. “Again?!! He needs to eat less.” For many months, all my son seemed to do was eat and cry, and I cried, too.
I told a friend how I didn’t like to have him cry and she said I was an attachment parent, like her. Good thing she was on the phone so she didn’t have to see the horror on my face. Attachment parents were crazy people who get on Time magazine covers and kill their babies by sharing the same bed. No, I couldn’t be one of them.
But I looked into my son’s eyes and into my heart. What my Elders asked of me was too much. It didn’t fit. So, I searched.
I travelled metaphorical paths and forests. I travelled through virtual highways. I learned new words. High needs. On demand. Baby led.
One major turning point was when I asked myself, what did cave people do? Putting a baby down didn’t make sense. It would get eaten and bring predators to the tribe. No! That just wouldn’t be right. And shortly later, I found a blog post about Tigers and babies not knowing they won’t get eaten. It seemed too good to not stand up and take notice.
I found more words. Gentle parenting.
And finally, Find Your Tribe.
Which is exactly what I have done. I picked up my son, asked my husband to follow me and led us to a new tribe. I did not abandon my Elders. I came back with new tools and new words. Resistance followed.Ā “Oh, New Mom, how will he walk if you keep carrying him?” He walked, and early no less (like his uncle). “Oh, New Mom, when those teeth come in, you won’t like to nurse anymore.” “New Mom, how will he learn unless you swat him?” They laughed at New Mom, who surely didn’t understand what she was doing.
Months are now turning into years, and my son is happy and growing well. The Elders do not laugh at New Mom of the Gentle Toolkit Tribe anymore.