Developing Intuition: Parenting as a Creative Act
When I became a mum, I was doing my best to get it right, to find the best people, books or experts with all the answers. I thought everything would get easier and I would feel more in control of looking after my baby if I had the right information and applied it at the right time. Because I was an acclaimed teacher, I also had the added burden of expectation that I would be good at this.
My fall from grace was a big one. There was a great distance between my pedestal and the harsh reality of life with a mysterious newborn. I hit the ground with a thud, and the shock of the mystery made way for a new and more forgiving version of me.
The more I talked with other new mothers, the more I realised that what I felt was normal. What a relief really – no one knows what they are doing. At best we were trying things and working it out as each day passed. The rules changed daily.
After having 4 children I was able to get into the swing of this ironic game of “Guess the Answer” and relaxed into the mystery with a level of chill and humour. This struggle and resulting surrender hide a great gift waiting to be discovered – the art of intuition. Basically, knowing what your baby needs without knowing why you know. You just do. It’s like a flash of inspiration, a gut feeling, a certainty that creeps into the situation and before you know it: you’ve read your baby’s cues and satisfied their needs. Yeah baby, these moments are sweet and, although fleeting, can give you a sense of “you’ve got this babe!”. We often want more of these moments when we have them. However, intuition doesn’t work like that, it’s just as mysterious as your baby. You can’t force it, you can’t bottle it and use more for later, you can’t even really put words around it. It just happens when it just happens.
So how can we create the right conditions for ourselves to be open to intuition and inspiration when parenting? I have a few thoughts for you now:
Relax – I know that’s easier said than done when you have a screaming baby or a child who refuses to go to bed. The opposite to relaxing and being ok with the situation is to flood your mind full of chit chat and demanding to know the answer NOW.
“What does this baby want now? I’ve fed him, changed his nappy. Is this a painful cry, does he have a belly ache? I’m just no good at this, why did I become a mother in the first place?”
On and on the dialogue goes. Remember that you can relax into it. It is ok to not know. It is alright to be ok with how your baby is communicating, even if their screams reach pitches that could crack your windows.
Connect – When things get hard, we typically want to disconnect, escape and hand the baby over – and sometimes that’s a perfectly good option. However, connecting with your baby is what makes way for the inspiration to come in the long term. Your magnificent mind is looking for answers and it focusses on what you focus on. If you focus more on your baby, you are likely to get more insights about your baby. If you focus on escaping and continually telling yourself how hard this is, then you will get more of that.
Trial and Error – Be prepared to get it wrong, this is how we learn. Keep trying things by responding to your baby. What worked yesterday may not work today. Sometimes nothing works, so just be there. I once heard that pilots flying a plane spend 90% or more of the flight off course, continually responding to the weather patterns they face on the journey – their job is to course correct. You just need to course correct too. When you do, you will notice that more and more you read the situation, you respond and you nail it!
I hope this is helpful in your journey of cultivating that elusive quality of intuition. This quality will not only be useful with your baby, but also when they are toddlers and beyond. This is a super power that will support you all through your life. Our children really are our greatest teachers.
Loving you all for the magnificent role you play in the world.