Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Operation: Nurture

Two months into motherhood and my brain is a little less fuzzy, but I have discovered it can only really focus on one topic - my son.  I am interested in all sorts of things still: I continue to (somewhat) follow world events, political happenings, the books I occasionally get time to read, and the lives of friends with not entirely feigned curiosity... even formulating (somewhat) intelligent opinions on such things.  But for anything outside of my personal and present experience of motherhood, I have only fleeting concentration.

And I have decided to stop fighting it.  Afterall, I did sign up for this parenting gig, it's probably a good thing that I am feeling rather involved in my new job.  Especially as it is by nature a thoroughly involving undertaking.

The only dilemma is the friendships I could lose as a result of throwing myself 100% into baby-brain, and the sort of friendships I could be left with.  Personally, prior to motherhood I had very little interest in pre-adult humans; even now the only baby I have much time for is my own.  So outside of my current circumstances, I have rather more affinity with the sort of people who aren't that into babies - ie exactly the sort of people I would bore the pants off just now; and the folk who love babies might be interested in my current circumstances, but their attitude concerns me - don't they know that babies are really BORING?

In any case, I don't have much choice.  The baby is here, and my baby-brain is here with him.  I have this important and VERY full-time job to do, and I'm trying to do it well... and if that means some entertaining people slip out of my life, and some strange baby-lovers in, then so be it.

So in this state, I was thinking about our job as parents the other night.  One thing that has struck me a few times is that he doesn't quite feel like "mine", even though he is clearly not anyone else's; and I realised it's because he doesn't belong to me - he belongs to himself.  At only 10 weeks new, we are amazed by how much of a 'person' he is; how much of an independent will and character he has, and how little control we have over it.  Yet it is surely our job to help shape him.

And I decided that baby is like a tree, and we are like the soil.  The basic components of 'who he is' are contained within the seed from which he grows, but how well he gets the opportunity to be the best version of himself is up to us.  We need to work out what specific 'nutrients' he needs to thrive - what best fits with this particular little life - changing the mix as his needs change.  We need to prop him up, and protect him from the harsh elements while he's growing, but allow him time in the sun, and remove the scaffolding before it becomes suffocating.  We need to bend with his seasons, learning from him when they are changing.  And if we get the balance right, then perhaps he can be as lush and magnificent a whatever-he-is as it is possible to be.

I got very excited by my analogy, but of course it doesn't actually tell us anything about the all-important 'who he is' bit that we need to figure out how best to nurture.  And as it seems to change every day it is rather tricky to get a hold of.  But we are throwing some emotional-fertiliser at the situation, and hoping for the best.  The smiles we get so far suggest we're not too far off.