the sling diaries, vol iv: everything shines | listening


while you navigate the seemingly endless road of pregnancy, the painstaking attempt at birth plans and hypotheticals, labor, delivery, and then the Almighty Parenthood, you do a lot of listening. you spend most of your time listening to an obscene amount of unnecessary noise.

you read a ton books and listen to so-called experts inform you- in the least condescending way, of course- how to do this or how to do that. at this stage, you're even eager to listen because you want to do everything right and you want to know how to handle the million different things that are sure to come barreling at you with this new little human that somehow you're now responsible for.
you listen to your mother or aunts or grandmothers about how they did something ages ago and how you should, too, or maybe you shouldn't be doing it, too. you listen to patronizing strangers, who audaciously wield out their unrequested advice because your screaming infant is an obvious sign that you're doing it all wrong, not that they're simply hungry. you listen to your pediatrician try to tell you that it's time for weaning or that they should be speaking a specific amount of words by such and such age or that your child NEEDS a flu shot or- god forbid- they'll get the flu. you listen to people whom you're told to trust place your child into a category of percentages, grading the growth of your child- and you as a parent- and a number of other things in that secret manila folder.

you look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're doing everything absolutely wrong. you ask yourself if you're cut out for this. you then listen to your therapist tell you that you are just sleep-deprived and the fog of early parenthood will soon wear off and to take these pills until you can get over the hump.

and then you stop listening to everyone else because you have realized that the only person you should be listening to is the one person you should only be listening to and checking in with: YOU. YOU are the parent. YOU are the mother. YOU are the expert of YOUR child. YOU listen to your childs wants and needs. YOU decide how to discipline. YOU decide to co-sleep and wear your baby or push a stroller and place that baby in a crib from night one. YOU decide whether to vaccinate or not, to nurse or formula feed, to wean when the time is right, to cloth diaper or use disposable diapers. YOU make these decisions.
i believe that as parents, we get so stuck on approval ratings, as if we're some variety show because, it can, at times, feel like a such a juggling act while our audience is simply waiting for one of the balls to drop. we worry about our growth percentage in some manila file folder. we focus so much of our energy on what people think of us when they hear our child screaming and throwing a tantrum in the middle of our local bodega. we fear our children making bad impressions when in all actuality, the truth is that we're more concerned with our children giving someone a bad impression of US.

when it comes to the most instinctual, biological, mental, and physically connected relationship we will ever have, when and why did we stop listening to ourselves? when did it become the norm to listen to other people- strangers, most of them- tell us how we should raise our kids? when did we start overlooking our instincts and begin searching for a behavioral diagnosis in the index of some book written by someone who doesn't know us, our child, our family, our home life, or anything about us from our neighbors? when did we stop exploring the depths of our own intuition and begin blindly handing off that responsibility to someone who knows our child as nothing but a statistic?

we've stopped listening to ourselves and to our bodies. we've stopped listening to mother nature in favor of theory and the newest, trendiest, best thing or parenting philosophy. even worse, as a result of all of the noise absorption, we have begun teaching our children that someone else will know better and more about their life than they ever could. this needs to end.

i wear my baby because my instincts told me long ago that i should and i listened. people have questioned me in the past, announcing that carrying her for too long will derail marlo from finding her independence. "i disagree," i tell them. "and if you ever meet marlo, you'd understand that that particular hypothesis doesn't hold much weight with her, either."

i listen to my gut instincts, ones so strong that i'd be a fool not to listen. and i listen to marlo. i hear her. i hear her wants, her needs, her development, her love for me, her dad, and the people around her.  i listen to what works for us.

and so far, it's working out okay.
a side note: these pictures were taken during one of my favorite baby wearing opportunities: cooking. i love nothing more than preparing a beautiful for the people i love and sharing that with marlo is one of my favorite parts of motherhood. i love explaining to marlo what i'm cooking, giving her a taste of whatever i'm whipping up, letting her witness and absorb my methods, and how much i love what i do in my kitchen. it's my highest hope that marlo has these memories of me- and of us- cooking for her and for our loved ones. 

also, thanks, joe for taking these photos of your two gals. next time, i promise to not be so skeptical. xoxo.


Kate De La Rosa said...

Your best yet. Have to tell you again - you are amazing!

Anonymous said...

this was so nice. at a time whn im thinking about all the "mistakes" i'm making with my girls. your advice to listen to myself is empowering. whats a mistake anyway. thank you for reminding me to follow my gut and heart.


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