To me, “offbeat” is recognizing the entire concept of “shoulds” is antithetical to being a good Mom. Solid parenting is about the mantra: Resist the urge to compare. And also – to me, it is about having the courage to hold your own path. You will not be an expert on children at first, because nobody is. But you will be an expert on YOUR child, very quickly.
I haven’t used the word “instinct” because it also has a culture behind it (instinctive parenting, attachment parenting, etc). Some of it may work for you, some of it won’t. Resist the urge to compare. Recognize the profound uniqueness of your own situation, your own you, and your own child.
I was 32 when I had my daughter, and I had been in my 20s an avowed childfree girl. I grew up on the fringes of the Seattle punk rock scene in the early 80s and all that came along with that. I met my husband early on and we spent many years together without children.
When he and I got pregnant, I encountered everything from Soccer-Mini-van-Mom co-workers who said “*gasp* Oh well NOW you’ll find out what it means to REALLY LIVE!!!” as if I hadn’t lived previously. Also, with the inevitable “advice” about 14 point $680 travel systems available at megalopolis stores, and how I would never want sex again. But I also encountered much unexpected B.S. from my alternative minded friends – feminist friends, about every subject under the sun and how I needed to do things a certain way.
I remember lots of things were terrifying to me, but mostly the concept I would lose myself after I had a baby.
I was routinely told, “You’ll feel differently after you have a baby.” You know what? I very much, unequivocally didn’t. That’s what I loved about having #2, I would literally say “Well guess what? This isn’t my first time at the rodeo, but thanks for your input.”
For the vast majority of things – some practical and some esoteric, my feelings and instinct remained the same prior to pregnancy, during, and after. The thing in my opinion that makes one “offbeat” is the willingness and courage to find your own way and then do it. Honestly – I took as much flak from my “grrrlfriends” about mothering as I did from Sally Fancypants in her Humvee on the way to soccer league. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
RESIST the urge to compare.
Listen to your gut – call it whatever word you want, it’s still brilliant advice. 100,000 years of evolution doesn’t go bye-bye.
Recognize that when a baby is born – a Mom is born too. The woman doesn’t go anywhere but the Mom is new. That’s OK.
Beware the “Baby Industrial Complex” — there’s a HUGE one with a pre-developed mindset for sale right along with it. The mindset says “You’re not good enough. You need this gear. Your instincts aren’t correct. Distance yourself from the baby by using X Y and Z product”. . I realize we’re not drilling down on content at this point but I’m telling you – you don’t need 90% of that crap.
Obviously there are things that change with kids. But the “lost” things (like lots of free time, for instance) don’t really mean diddly shit to you afterward. It’s almost laughable.
It’s OK to absolutely freaking love being a Mom. You can do that, and embrace it, and that experience can define you as much as other experiences in your life. It’s not mutually exclusive to being your own woman and your own individual.