I believe in signs - signs that tell me I’m on the right path or that I’m doing the right things in my life. Birds are my signs, some other people feel the same way about hearts, butterflies, or pennies found in their path.
When I’m going through uncertain times, I have seen hawks, falcons, and even eagles and I feel a concrete sense of calm and I know my decisions are the right ones. For example, when I first went away to college I saw a red-tailed hawk on the drive near campus and I felt it was reassurance that this was the right choice for me. When I was worried about backpacking in Ireland and England my junior year, I saw a bald eagle on my way to the airport. I remember also seeing a hawk when I started my first “real” job.
The signs changed when I became a mom. I started to look at the signs my care providers suggested. The midwives and lactation consultants taught me to look for the signs that would show me if the baby was hungry, when he needed a diaper change, if he needed to be burped. They told me to count wet diapers, the number of feedings in 12 hour periods, and how many BMs the baby had. (I’m pretty sure most of us moms know what BM is short for!) The pediatrician slipped me the baby’s stats at each well-visit and I could see the percentiles for height and weight at each milestone. I counted how many ounces my boobs produced per pumping session, I tracked how many ounces my baby took at each feeding, and I thought these signs would tell me if I was doing a good job and being a great mom.
I soon realized the new, traditional signs were not the right ones for me to use to figure out if I was doing a good job and being a great mom. My babies ate when they were hungry, slept when they were tired, crawled when they could, and walked when they were ready. Their smiles, waves and hugs were (and still are) the best signs to let me know I was doing a good job and being a great mom.
When I relaxed and didn’t analyze so many aspects of my children’s lives, I began to see the birds again. I saw hawks on my rides to work when I first decided to go back, when I decided to quit the management job, and when I accepted a part-time position but wasn’t sure how it would work out. I smile when I see them and I feel fortunate to have a sign that will quietly show me which way I should go.
As a mom of three now, I am confident which signs mean more for my family. Sure, the suggestions from my midwife and pediatrician are considered, and the birds are helpful hints along the way, but the cues directly from my babies were much more powerful and effective.
How about you? What helps you know you’re right when you make your decisions? Which signs do you look for as a mom?