Our culture is obsessed with numbers. How many days until Xmas? How many Nebraska touchdowns? How many miles did I ride my bike? How many shots in my latte?
Parents are no different. They wonder: how many days until my due date? How many hours of labor will I have? How many days until my milk comes in? How much weight did my baby gain? How much sleep does my baby need? How little sleep did I get last night????
Numbers can be a challenge. We know that babies from one to six months of age need 20-30 ounces a day of their mother’s milk to gain weight and be happy. This amount does not change despite their age or weight. Why do some babies only need 20 and some need 30? Enter the wonderful variations in humans. We don’t know why some babies appear to gain weight on very little milk and some seem to be a bottomless pit. Dr. Leeper, our breastfeeding medicine specialist, suggests we may soon learn this variation has to do with the fat content in a mother’s milk, which most likely varies from mom to mom, rather than being one set number.
Even though we want specific numbers, becoming a parent means dealing with averages. Parenthood requires a degree of flexibility that many of us find difficult. Yet flexibility is one of the greatest skills we learn as a parent.
When my children were little I lived for my Wednesday morning mom’s group. It helped to mold my identity as a mother. I formed long term friendships. It gave me a foundation for determining what was normal and what was not.
Moms’ groups at MilkWorks are a great way to see all the variations of normal parenting and babyhood. Moms listen and watch other moms and babies and see a multitude of slightly different ways of mothering. They see babies who act like their baby and babies who act differently. They see that each mother figures out a slightly different solution to a similar challenge. Yet they all work because humans come in a wide range of normal.
Normal is hard to put a number on. We don’t like ranges, we like specifics. We are all human …constantly evolving and changing and growing. Parenthood means learning that normal may change a little bit from today to tomorrow. Normal may mean accepting less than perfection. Normal may mean that the real game is the process of being human.
If you are a new mom and want to spend time with other moms learning from the shared experience of motherhood, drop in to one of our MilkWorks moms’ groups. We think you will be glad you did!