Friday, March 29, 2013

Mama Musings: Information Overload

Before I had Ava, I heard that new moms got overwhelmed.  This made sense to me since babies are a lot of work and they can be overwhelming with their constant needs, explosive poops, and endless crying.  I totally anticipated feeling overwhelmed with all of my new responsibilities.  What I didn't anticipate was being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information out there about raising a baby.  I have officially diagnosed myself with information overload.  It's great that we live in the "information age", and we can access information about anything anywhere with a few swipes on a smart phone.  Brent and I often comment on how cool it is that we can ask questions of the internet and get instant answers.  However, I'm starting to think that instant access to unlimited information is actually less than cool.  Instead of satisfying me with answers, it leaves me anxious and second guessing myself, always thinking there is a better way to do it, if only I could just find it...

I've been gathering, cataloging, and saving baby information like nobody's business, but I'm really starting to regret it.  Right now, I want to dig a deep, deep hole to the center of the Earth and fling every baby book ever written down the hole to be burned and never seen again.  At the very least, I want to fling them across the room.  I think I am addicted to baby books, baby websites, and baby blogs.

Here's what goes through my mind about 8 times a day when Ava does something that is distressing to me:

"Wait, didn't I read about that on Troublesome Tots?  And does that coordinate with what I read in Babywise?  I don't know... because my friend's baby does _____.  And that's not what they recommend in Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child.  Let me see real quick if there is a chart for this on  No, it's not there, so maybe I'll Google it.  Brent, what do you think?"

Do you see the crazy?  It's crazy!

The hard thing to admit is that I think my obsession over baby information is selfish to the core.  I'm not as worried about messing her up as messing ME up.  Ava is loved and safe every day, she eats and sleeps plenty, and she is stimulated with smiles, songs, and outings.  She is going to be just fine.  I know that.  Honestly, I'm worried that I'm going to suck as a mom.  I'm worried that if I do something wrong, it might make MY life harder in the future.  For example - if I let her nap in the swing for 3 months, she will be fine.  But I might have to pay the price later when she moves to the crib with a cranky child, a messed up schedule, and more crying.  I keep thinking that I'm going to make a mistake that I can't undo.

I know the solution.  Everyone always says, "Take the books with a grain of salt.  Every child is different. Do what's best for your child.  You'll just know what is best for your child.  Do what your gut tells you."  Um, that's great except most of the time, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT TO DO!  Duh - that's why I'm consulting the books!

Since I clearly can't burn all my books or stay away from the internet forever, I need a new plan.  I can't live my life constantly comparing Ava's every feeding, nap, night sleep, crying bout, wake time, milestone, and mood to "the norm".  I can't live with the torture of wondering if there is a better way to do it......if ONLY I could just find the right page in the right book.

I think the root of the problem is a heart problem.  Why am I so worried about messing up?  Why am I so obsessed with comparison and norms?  Here are three big picture things I want to do and remember to attack this problem.  Then, for good measure... one practical step, too.

  1. I am the right mother for Ava, and she is the right child for me.  I will trust that God has already given me all the skills I need to parent Ava right now, and he will add to my skill set and knowledge as I need it and as she grows. I will believe that the Lord chose me to be Ava's mom for a specific purpose, and I have the qualities she needs.  Similarly, she has the qualities I need to be refined and sanctified.  Maybe she's more difficult in certain areas so that I can learn patience, selflessness, and dependence.   
  2. God is the source of all wisdom and knowledge, not the Internet.  Instead of turning to the Internet to solve problems, I should put away my iPhone and start by asking God to give me the wisdom, discernment, and guidance to deal with whatever it is we're facing.  
  3. The gospel is for me, too.  I need to daily preach the gospel to myself and remind myself that there is really no need to be perfect or even to try since it is impossible.  Grace is there for the taking.  I will mess up horribly, make bad decisions, and do things as a mom in ways that are less than optimal.  And that's OK.  There's grace for all of it.
  4. I need a limit on "baby reading".  I'm going to say that I can consult baby books, blogs, or websites once per day.  If something crops up later that day, I need to either let it go or wait until tomorrow (when it probably won't even matter anyway).
Mamas... how do you deal with information overload?


Liz said...

This is such an honest, wise, self-reflective, great post. I honestly think even two years later, you have even MORE access to information than we did with our babies. I didn't have an iPhone and we didn't have Pinterest. It's SO much.

ALL of your points are absolutely right! Ask for wisdom from the Lord who gives generously to all without finding fault, but when you ask you MUST believe and not doubt!! That's the second part. He's given you Ava and Brent and your resources AND motherly instincts for a reason. If you read a few things and pray and you have thoughtfully considered what's best for you.... do it. Don't doubt and second guess. All the doubt can turn into second-guessing the wisdom the Lord IS giving you!

I felt like I didn't know anything but after you read things, pick pieces from things, toss aside anything you think is silly or over the top for you... THEN trust yourself that you can glean what's best for you from all that information. And if it doesn't work.... you can always try again. :)

Love you, friend!

Mindy Rives said...

Wine, lots of wine. :)

Lindsay Ward said...

Hey - Just wanted to comment and say I love how honest you are on this blog. Most (or all) of what I see from new mothers tries to make everything seem perfect. We all know it isn't and it is hard. Really, your honesty gives me peace that I can do this when it is my turn!

Lisa said...

I absolutely love how honest this post is! I have to admit, we aren't even considering trying to get pregnant yet and I am already overwhelmed with what I hear and read from others...and how it all seems to contradict the last thing I heard/read. Terrifying! Good luck with your plan, seems like you are on the right track already :)
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