Have you ever wondered why babies are so adorable? Or for that matter why they cry so effectively, able to jolt a mother from a deep sleep with a whimper? Well, perhaps it is so, because we humans are actually deeply asleep.
I mean, can you imagine what it would be like if babies were just neutral? Blank slates with no appeal. They wouldn't last long. Or, on the other hand, if it were simply sufficient that they were exactly as they naturally are, gurgling, cooing bundles of joy all the time?
I can just see it. Mom is totally entranced by this fascinating being, and then after a perfectly beautiful bonding session, there are 'things to do'. So, Mom goes of into her habitual distraction with all those essential tasks. Like cleaning toilets because Grandma is coming to visit (they must be spotless), shopping for three pairs of new shoes, checking e-mail, running the family business, whatever.
Although she is fully aware that baby needs to be fed every three or four hours to sustain life, she has forgotten to set the reminder on her cell phone. Eight or twelve hours fly by in typical fashion when suddenly, in the middle of choosing which sauce will go best with the pasta for supper, she is hit by a lightning bolt of awareness.
F____avourite swearword! When last did she feed the baby? Damn that bloody cell phone alarm! It didn't go off again! She races off to baby's room, where she finds junior happily gurgling into his pillow while he starves. Of course, there's no need to feel guilty cause he's such a happy little chap, and no lesson is learned.
No. The truth is, babies have to be enchanting, and also be able to wail effectively, because their very survival depends on it. Because we no longer carry them next to our bodies to sustain bonding, and for convenient feeding. We put them in cribs, and give them ridiculously expensive plastic toys to look at, instead of our faces.
Did you know babies are genetically hard wired to be attracted to the sight of the human face? Even newborns, barely weeks old will try to copy your facial expressions if you allow yourself to express to them. Babies have to be awake, because they are born to a person who walks around in a state of semi-consciousness.
And that's if they're one of the lucky ones.
Think of the ones born to those who are deeply unconscious - same energy - just exaggerated. The truth is, babies have to start waking us up from the moment they are born, or else they would simply not survive. And any men who are nodding their heads in self-righteous agreement - well, have you ever wondered why women have the babies?
Shocked? Fantastic! The thing is we don’t even know we are asleep until someone or something shocks us into awareness – rather read this than an accident, illness or some other tragedy. The truth will set you free, only first it will usually p**s you off! Feel the hackles rise? Read on.
Maybe that's what makes parenting, in my opinion, the most challenging and transformative process available to any human being - and most people just "fall" pregnant. We do not require a certificate or a qualification; we are pre-eminently successful at producing babies. There isn't even a good manual available.
Sure, there are some people who have had some ideas and even written them down, affecting millions of people with their ideas. Dr. Spock had a marked effect on the upbringing of a whole generation. Well, I don’t know how well his ideas worked - I don't even know if he was a parent himself!
ever mind what the ‘holy books’ have to say about parenting. "Spare the rod and spoil the child". What does that mean? And who wrote that? Some person who proclaimed he was writing on behalf of an "ever loving God".
Very loving act that, beating a child with a rod/stick/hand - and I know how that feels from both ends of the stick. Simply disgusting.
The truth is, there isn't a single person who can tell you how to raise your child.
Any effective parent of multiple children will tell you that each one is completely unique and responds to different "methods" of parenting. This is the beauty as well as the challenge of parenting. The other scary one, is the day a parent realises "Oh God! I sound just like my mother/father."
That one usually takes the wind out of our sails, even if we're only slightly aware, because we know from personal experience what didn't work with us as kids! Yet here we find ourselves doing the very same thing! And it's strangely compulsive.
This actually, is the true wake up call. This is the moment of opportunity to realise that we can choose to be reactive parents or creative parents. This is the MOST IMPORTANT CHOICE you will ever make as a parent.