A few months ago, Isabella, a lovely reader who’s grown fond of La Tela (and I of her), wrote me something that made me smile. Her words are so honest, sweet and familiar that they made me think, once again, “No matter how different and unique we all are as individuals, mums are all in the same boat. We all have the same problems and worries, feel guilty in the same way. And we’re all striving to be better mothers and people in this amazingly crazy journey of parenthood”.
So today, with her permission, I want to share with you what she wrote to me for the Team Mama column. And if you can relate to her words the same way I do, let us know, share it with us. Because alone we’re smart, together we’re brilliant—wow, did I just invent the Team Mama’s motto?
Letter by Isabella, mum of Enea (14 months)
My name is Isabella, mum of Enea who was born on March 18th 2015. I found your blog ten days ago, while looking for some tutorials on how to make the Montessori mobiles for the kids’ Open Day in the company I work for.
What did I find, in addition to the tutorials? A stranger, so familiar that I already feel fond of her. In every one of your posts, I find something I’m looking for, a confrontation I need, a point of view I hadn’t discovered yet or found the strength and the determination to follow (I’m learning it’s really not about “the right time” or “the perfect moment”, it’s all about determination).
You write in three languages that I feel connected with, one because it’s my mother tongue and the other two because they’re dreams of mine that never came true (and today I can say it’s all my “fault”).
I admire you for what you do, for what you write, maybe even just for the way you write it, which makes a big difference. The difference between “doing something” and “wanting to do something”, a difference that often in the past had the best of me.
Lots of similarities, lots of differences. Similarities that bring us closer, differences that make us richer.
I spent the last year of my life trying to be a better mother, not just a good mother. Montessori, extended breastfeeding, unconditional love, education to independence, baby-led weaning, and knowing that every moment, no matter how difficult it is, is a phase and it’ll pass (sometimes even too quickly). This morning I found the motivation to write to you, reading your post about letting your baby cry. It’s been a difficult morning at work, after a very difficult night, more than others.
Enea is good, he’s very good. At the nursery, they call him “Felicetto” because he always smiles. He’s also good at night, he wakes up every 4-5 hours, but he rarely takes a long time to fall back asleep. Unlike last night. I had come back from the company party, I was exhausted, but every time I was about to fall asleep he’d start crying, in the bed next to mine (I’m trying to move him to his room, but I keep postponing it with the excuse of creating the perfect environment, but really because I don’t want to let him go :). He wouldn’t fall back asleep, he was looking for the breast, but not even that worked. And then there’s this really annoying habit of his of pinching my skin with his nails. Constantly. My chest and neck are like a mine field, I don’t know how to make him stop: I remove his hands, kindly, I kiss them, but nothing, he always goes back there so I spend all the time pushing away his hands, instead of kissing and hugging him.
And when, like yesterday, I lose my patience, I’m not the loving mother I want to be, I don’t let his father calm him down (it would have taken him just a few minutes and then he’d have slept well), I spend the next day being eaten alive by guilt and looking for solutions.
I’m terrified by the idea of letting Enea cry. Even more so because I know that it might not work. I already tried, in the first months, when all I heard was “if you hold him, you spoil him”: I knew that all a baby needs is love and milk, but my always questioning myself made me try letting him cry, overwhelmed by criticism and tiredness. But it didn’t work. And who knows if it’d work now. Yesterday I was thinking, “How does one stop breastfeeding at night? Is it ok to do it?”.
I try to listen to Enea. When it’s time to sleep and I’m around, he usually looks for me to calm down. Then, in the last few weeks, something happened: when he’s calm and almost asleep, he wants me to put him in his bed. So something IS changing, even if I just follow his instinct, without forcing him, but it’s not alway easy. And when I don’t feel up for it (or I’ve got a patience debt) this is what happens: I write down what I feel in the attempt to process and rationalise the situation. This time I chose you to be that friend that I’d like to have close to me in these moments, somebody who’s so in line with my understanding of motherhood and breastfeeding. Somebody that I can’t find in my group of friends.
Thanks Carlotta, to walk down your path with braveness, to anticipate your life instead of simply seeing it happen. I’m starting now, and I’m aware of my own limits, I want to get as close as possible to them in order to realise that I can even overcome them, like Enea already has, making me find my strength, which is more than I thought. People like you make me feel that “I can do it”: like that time during labour when my mother-in-law, mother of six, showed up unexpectedly… I didn’t want to see anybody, but in that difficult time it was good to have her there: “If she survived six births, I can definitely survive this one!” ;-)