Wise words from Nia House parent, Pearly Tan.
Becoming a parent takes more spiritual preparation than physical preparation. These little bundles require pretty little material things to begin with. We found a cheap crib we never used, acquired a changing table and playmat someone else was throwing out, and got lots of clothes and diapers from people who had an excess. I was lucky to be able to nurse our child and never used bottles or pacifiers. Just as well that our little person was so minimalistically needy, since we didn’t have a baby shower, and didn’t have a fat bank account to reach into.
Instead, what needed more adjustment was our lifestyle and mindset. My husband is a business owner, and I am an investigative journalist and book writer. We love our work and work a lot, and even take pleasure in working beside each other on our own work. Here are some of the things I had to think about to prepare spiritually for parenthood:
Take time and take space to reorganize your priorities:
As soon as I had a child, I knew she would come first. I’ve always wanted a family, but what it meant to put the child first meant having to do research.
I knew I’d still have to help out at the family business, while continuing to work on my book, but still caring for my new human. As capable as I wanted to think I was, I knew I needed to look at resources. That was when I found out about portable pack-and-plays, baby carriers, and baby hammocks, all of which she used in our store while we worked and integrated her into our everyday life.
She ate with me, slept with me, and played with me. But when I needed space, or when my husband recognized that I needed space, he took over. Occasionally even, the child didn’t come first, my partner did. He taught me this. He reminded me that my health was as important as the child’s, and had a great influence on our new creation.
The grand ambition of reading:
Like most first time moms, I thought I would read. I promised to read. I gathered books on motherhood, childhood illnesses, breastfeeding, being a good partner, responsible parenting, how to raise a grateful child. I didn’t read a single one. They cluttered my windowsill and made me alternate between anxious nervous and calm. When my daughter turned one, I gave them all to the next first-time mom.
It’s ok not to read. But, be resourceful.
Instead, I prepared my heart for the unexpected. I began looking at articles about what not feed the baby, when to introduce solids, and how not to believe Dr. Google implicitly.
Part of the spiritual preparation of being a mother is being comfortable not knowing it all. Accept that you can be surprised, that you don’t know everything, and that it’s ok to ask. But set up a support system you trust to help you with answers, place your advice nurse on speed dial, and be prepared to acknowledge that your mother was right in many ways.
Prepare your spirit:
You’ll think you’ve got it down. Prepare your spirit.
You’ll plan to be a Montessori parent. Prepare your spirit.
You’ll believe your friendships won’t change at all. Prepare your spirit.
The bottom line is, remember that your little person has a spirit of their own. They’re changing even as you change. What works for one child, may not work with another. You may have no allergies, and your child have several. You may be a daredevil, with a cautious child. You may be an extrovert that enjoys dinner parties, while your child would rather read quietly in their room. There are many ways in which your child may be quite different from you, and if you’re not prepared for all the differences (that will exist even where there are great similarities), you may feel disappointed in your child, and this will affect your family.
You may have dreamed of continuing your path as a career woman after having a child, your company may not think the same way. Prepare your spirit.
You may have plans to nurse your child. Prepare your spirit.
One of the biggest lessons we learn as parents, is that there is no one way to do anything. There isn’t a single way to be a parent. A stay-at-home mother doesn’t have an easier job than a working mom, a bottle-fed baby is not better or worse off than a child who is breastfed.
Before the arrival of your child, it’s important to come to an understanding of your beliefs, and the loopholes in them. Identify the people around you who truly have you and your family’s best interests at heart, and hear their words and offers of help in a constructive manner.