Here's my top 5 list of things every mother needs. Really, this applies to all parents but I'm a mother and can only speak from a mother's perspective. Yes, I could give you a long list of material things, but this is different. Without these things, the material stuff means nothing.
Love is the number one most important thing. Without love, mothering would be impossible. Surrendering your body and life to an unknown being for 9 months prior to birth through pregnancy, and then continuing to do so after the birth requires immense love.
Waking up every two hours (or less) in the beginning, having the nutrients literally sucked from your body through breastfeeding requires love. Putting the needs of another wholly above your own requires love.
It would be easy to react to incidences with harsh words or actions, but a mother has to remember to respond with kindness. Even when your child bites while nursing. Talk about a character building experience. Responding with kindness is important-- as a mother, you are teaching your child how to behave in the world. We need more kindness.
Life is hard without hope. Impossible really. You have to be hopeful for the future so that you instill hope in your children.
Mothering without confidence causes a crisis of identity and constant doubt. You have to be confident in your abilities to do the best that you can at that moment for your child. You know what your child needs. You do. You feel it. You know when a fever is something to just keep an eye on, or if you need to call the doctor. You know if they're getting enough food.
Goose had lost over 1 lb when she went to her first checkup. The older doctor in the practice wanted me to supplement with formula. She was 4 days old, and after a long, unproductive labor and unplanned c-section, it was no surprise to me that my milk hadn't come in yet. She was nursing like a champ, getting colostrum and had plenty of wet and dirty diapers, but the doctor handed me a box of formula samples and sent us on our way. I refused, and called the lactation consultant to back up my decision. That single decision, early on in Goose's life and my life as a mother, made all the difference. I knew what was right and acted in the best interest of my child. She went on to exclusively nurse until a little over 6 months, and continued to nurse until she was 16 months old.
Don't forget-- you're the person who knows your child best.
A Sense of Humor
A sense of humor is incredibly important. J-bird and I have laughed our way through a lot of difficult situations, and parenting definitely requires a sense of humor. You need to be able to laugh when your kid helps make pizza and unintentionally throws cheese all over the kitchen-- really, what were we thinking letting an 18 month old put cheese on pizza?
You need to be able to laugh when this happens.
And this. It will happen.
All you can do is laugh.
Thank you, Goose, for inspiring this post while we were having yet another battle of wills over sleep. I love you forever.