I have a stock of standard “things to say” when its my turn to sign the card.
Yearbook/Retirement: It was great getting to know you. Have a wonderful summer!
Birthday: I’m glad you were born. I hope you have a wonderful day! (pretty much the long version of “Happy Birthday”, but if you write really big, it takes up a lot more space)
Wedding: Marriage is awesome! Enjoy each other! (yes I realize this one sounds a bit smarmy, but hey, it’s honeymoon time)
Get well: Hang in there friend. We’re praying for you! (I may substitute buddy or kiddo if this is for a child – it’s so versatile)
These hallmark-ish sentiments have saved me time, and let’s face it, valuable brain space. Occasionally I am inspired and write an epistle, but most often, I’m just glad to pass the card on to the next person.
My New Baby comments have evolved over the years as I move through those necessary parenting phases: panicked, smug, overwhelmed, resigned, what-on-earth-is-that-up-your-nose, et cetera. These days I find myself parroting the advice my mom has always given. We’ll call this the “guess-she-sort-of-knew-what-she-was-talking-about-after-all” phase.
Trust your instincts.
It seemed like kind of a cop out to me, you know, back in the day when I knew so much. I mean, I had Formal Training in early childhood education, I had absorbed Scientific Knowledge, I had learned Godly Techniques… surely there was a right way to do every little thing and I was bound and determined to find it.
I have books on breast-feeding, potty training, sleep training, attachment parenting, public schools, homeschooling, un-schooling, sex talks, purity retreats, unplugging, becoming media-wise, healthy food, cheap food, freezing food and even food related crafts. I’ve read everything from Baby Wise to The Baby Whisperer, and a few times through the bible. I have gone to seminars, conferences, and retreats. I have surfed the internet, read blogs and listened to podcasts; WebMD is my home away from home. I’ve even gone back to school and studied Developmental Psychology.
I am constantly learning something new about parenting. Some of it is crap. Some of it works. Some of it just doesn’t feel right, even though it works.
And I find myself coming back to my Mom’s advice again and again. Despite having bottle fed me and put me to sleep ON MY STOMACH (*gasp of shock and horror*), she did a great job! Even without all these Important Resources.
Last week I was asked to give the talk at a church baby shower. I was psyched, because this little person is a long awaited miracle and it’s just so cool that he is here. I was also a little intimidated since my “expert” parenting advice would be presented to a group of friends who might be sitting behind us next week while I hiss cease and desist warnings to my girls who are attempting to irritate each other to death, while B has her finger deeply embedded in her nose, while I wipe breakfast off their faces with my thumb and little bit of spit (they LOVE that)… basically while my family makes it clear to all that I am not really an expert after all.
So I fell back on this, the best parenting advice I have ever gotten.
Trust your instincts.
God entrusted this child to Your care; no one knows them like you do. God gave you instincts, intuition, insights, even slightly less-than-scientific “gut feelings”. And God promises wisdom if you faithfully ask.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.
There are some for whom these instincts do not come naturally. Perhaps due to a difficult childhood, or other personal issues. They may need to develop and hone their instincts. You can LEARN to be a responsive parent.
Pray. Talk to other moms. Research. Find out what is healthy and safe. Read, read, read… It all helps. And it is important. But in the end, YOU discern what is best for your family.
Trust your instincts.
There is no such thing as the perfect parent. But there are many amazing, loving, and succesful parents out there, and they do not all fit into the same mold.
Each of my children have different needs. I have my own set of strengths and weaknesses. The circumstances of life change frequently. Our family has distinct values and priorities. We don’t fit into any mold.
Despite the assertions of many parenting systems, there is no single, foolproof method to “Grow Kids God’s Way”. If there were, our faith would be in a person or a formula. Instead, we trust the One who made us and put children in our care, by trusting our instincts.
So here’s me, Growing Kids Christie’s Way. Cause that’s my job.