Learning to be a Mother

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning from children

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared the many lessons their children have taught them. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


Spending my days and nights with Joshua for the past ten months has taught me about myself and about how to be a mother.

My first lesson was in patience.  I always thought of myself as patient, since I’m a teacher and patience is necessary for survival, but also because I am willing to work and wait in hopes that my patience will pay off.   We may have saved for years to build our house, we may have waited five years after getting married to start a family, I may have earned multiple college degrees, but I didn’t know what real patience was until I became a mother.  Real patience, I learned, is pacing the floors in the middle of the night, rocking my baby to sleep.  Real patience is nursing my baby for four hours straight each evening for the first three months, and learning to eat my dinner with one hand (even the left one).  Real patience is changing my baby’s diaper or clothes or my own clothes for the fifth or sixth or seventh time that day, before noon.  Real patience is what enabled me to do these things quietly, calmly, even happily.

I also learned to trust my instincts.  Experts, both respected and self-proclaimed, are contstantly telling me how to feed my son, how often to pick him up, what to dress him in, how to lay him down to sleep, how to get him to sleep through the night, when to start solids, when he should reach each milestone.  After some self-doubt early on, I realized that nobody knows my baby better than I do.  So far, my instincts have led me to breastfeed on-cue exclusively for the first six months, nurse in public, cosleep, respond to my baby’s cries, hold or wear my baby, feed him real foods, and allow him to achieve milestones on his own developmental timeline.  I’ve learned to smile, nod, and discard advice that doesn’t meld with my instincts.

Finally, in these last ten months I’ve learned what it means to love a child.  I always knew what it was like to love my parents, siblings, other family members, friends, and of course my husband, but I now know what the love of a mother for her baby feels like.  It is unconditional, unwavering.  I understand why mothers in nature can be the most formidable, fearless, and dangerous protectors of their babies.  My resolve to live sustainably has strengthened since becoming a mother, since I see it as an extension of protecting my son and providing for his future.  Joshua owns my heart and my soul.

P.S. This is my 800th post!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:



Filed under Home, parenting, Sustainable Living

12 responses to “Learning to be a Mother

  1. I can relate to all those lessons; thanks for putting it so well into words. The unconditional love is just amazing and yes, patience (although I’m still not sure I have mastered that one *at all*) and like you, my daughter has been the catalyst for living more sustainably. What great teachers!

  2. I forgot how I never could eat a warm meal for the first several months and how I would always drop bites into my lap (or onto my nursing baby’s head) — ah, the joys of parenting! Thanks for the reminder that trusting our instincts is so crucial. It’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned as well. Glad to have you with us this month!

  3. OK, Abbie, this post brought tears to my eyes. I am SO proud of you in your new, most important role as mother and I have to say that everything I learned about being a mother came from YOU, my darling daughter, first-born (and your brothers who followed!)

    Nothing can prepare us for parenthood like the actual, awesome experience of parenting and loving a child.

    Congratulations on joining such a wonderful, natural parenting group, and congratulations on your 800th post! Woohoo!

  4. Aw, this was a sweet post.

  5. Oh yes – learning to love a child. You know, I always wonder how my mother could still love my sisters and I so unwaveringly after all we’ve pulled over the years. Now I know. Without a doubt.

  6. I had never thought of the difference between the patience required to strive toward a goal and the patience required to be present in the moment and do just what is required right now. And the second kind, real patience, is so, so much harder.

  7. My son is almost ten months old and I hear you on learning to be patient! It’s been a journey for me as a mom of two to really be patient.

    Learning to trust my instincts has made me a much happier mama, wife and individual. It’s a great thing.

  8. Yes, I agree! Motherhood has taught me patience and to trust in my instincts too 🙂 I’m a proud attachment-parenting mama too.

  9. What a beeyoutiful post:)

    You have said it ALL so true and WELL.
    I love that you mention that YOU know your child better than anyone. I am expecting my third child right now and I still learn everyday when “experts” say something…it’s usually the opposite.

    Great, great post!

  10. Kayla

    I got a little teary while reading this Abbie! You are a great mom and I can’t wait to meet little Joshua one day 🙂

  11. Aaaawww how sweet! Yes, I remember eating with one hand. That was before I knew about babywearing. Now I go hands free constantly! =)

    Congratulations on your 800th post! My, what a prolific Mom you are! =)

  12. Pingback: Till the water is clear

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