Maternal instinct is a tricky concept. Why? Because it makes it all too easy to fall into the trap of ‘I should know this!’ And once you fall into that trap, it becomes harder and harder to ask for advice, get help or seek information.
‘You’re failing as a mother,’ goes the little voice in the back of your mind as you realize that giving birth had not endowed you will a instant mental baby manual.
But I’ll let you into a secret that no-one told me before I had kids – maternal instinct won’t tell you everything to do baby-wise, but it will kick in as you filter information.
Let’s take an example. You’re feeling overwhelmed as baby is crying again and you contemplate what else you can possibly try. Reluctantly you reach for the phone and call a friend for advice. And as you listen to the advice, you are thinking, ‘This advice sucks!’
Congratulations! You have found your maternal instinct. It has told you that what is suitable for one baby is not suitable for yours.
It can work the other way too. Imagine you have ‘given in’ and are leafing through a parenting book. As you do so, you find yourself nodding along wisely or thinking, ‘But that’s common sense!’
Ah-ha! Yet again, maternal instinct has come to the fore. You know that this is worth doing for your baby.
Asking for advice, attending parenting classes or reading books does not mean you have no maternal instinct or are less of a mother. For in agreeing or disagreeing with such information, you’ll find your ‘instinctual’ response.