Hi, my name is Nicole and below you’ll find a little of my story…
A few days after my oldest son, F, was born, I beseeched the help of one of my midwives for the breastfeeding issues, among others, I was having. F wanted to nurse non-stop on my painfully cracked nipples, and I was suffering from an exhaustion I never knew was possible. On top of that, the immense, bewildering responsibility of this new little human being in my arms weighed heavily on me. I was utterly lost, and all I wanted was to be told exactly what to do to ensure a healthy, happy baby. Unfortunately, that was not the approach my midwife was willing to take because she knew there was no one right answer. Instead, she kindly told me that I would have to start making decisions about how I wanted to parent my child.
This declaration came as a blow to my already desperate need for comfort and direction. All I could think was, how on Earth can I make decisions about how to mother my baby when I can barely see straight, never mind feeling that if I made one little mistake my child would be ruined forever? After 30 years of being told what to do, of following the rules as best as I could, of perpetually seeking others’ shifting and elusive approval, I had now birthed a child, an accomplishment that bestowed on me the greatest responsibility I could have ever imagined, and I was completely unprepared.
I knew, of course, the mechanics of caring for a baby, but I didn’t believe I was capable of making appropriate and sound decisions. I didn’t know how to give myself space to figure things out, allowing for mistakes as I learned. And I didn’t know how to observe my baby’s cues without hearing hundreds of conflicting voices in my head interpreting them for me. In light of all that, I felt my only option was to look to an authority for instructions, and when I was told to start making my own decisions, it felt like I had been betrayed by the whole world.
That rather disheartening experience marked the beginning of what I would slowly understand to be the great deception of all I had been taught growing up; namely, that the rules of life are clear cut, that there is usually only one right answer, and that I needed to always follow other people’s advice to succeed.
Now, almost 13 years later, I am still working through the realization that I have been separated, slowly but progressively through years of schooling and arm’s-length parenting, from myself and from life. I hope to heal those wounds, at least in part, by unschooling my two sons, by giving them the gift of knowing who they are and how they fit in the world, and by maintaining in them a sense of wholeness that I lost long ago.