There’s nothing like a four-year-old to cut a mother down to size. My sweet, curly-haired daughter, Eden, wanted a pickle. She asked me where they were. I answered her calmly and deliberately, “The pickles are in the shower.” I was serious; they really were in the shower. That’s not where we usually keep them, but that’s where they were today. Eden wasn’t fazed, she was just happy to have her pickle. And we all went about our business.

But, a bit later, I had a nagging thought… Can I be a good parent and have pickles in the shower?

As a relatively new mom (three little lovely girls) I have had my share of familial interactions that have led me to question the viability of some of the choices I make as a mother. In times of uncertainty, I have often turned to parenting books. And I‘ve picked up a few valuable tips over the years. I’ve learned about giving meaningful praise, and about offering choices. I’ve learned that crying is a healthy emotional release and that holding a crying child transmits a sense of order and safety. Can I be a good parent and have pickles in the shower? I’ve learned the importance of exploring my own sense of youth and childhood and practicing safe and sane sleep guidelines, to name a few. But it wasn't until the birth of my third child (my biggest balancing act yet) that I found the inner courage to wean myself a bit from the books, and start tuning into what makes sense to me. What can I say? Some days, pickles in the shower make perfect sense.

I, like every other mother on the planet, have a unique and personal maternal instinct. Much like a fingerprint, you won’t find another mother who parents exactly like me, or you, for that matter. A lot of moms do a lot of the same kind of stuff; but no two moms have the same instinct all the time. Our maternal instinct is molded by the guidance we receive. Some of this guidance and inspiration can be found in books, but the real journey begins when we close the books and just do it.

The way I see it, mothering isn’t something we learn how to do, it’s something that we allow to happen. Some of the most wonderful and transforming moments I’ve shared with my girls happened when I wasn’t making a conscious effort to impart some major lesson but when we were just playing or reading or bathing. Sometimes the moments are fun and frivolous - pickle moments if you will - where you laugh at the absurdity of your circumstance and just go with it, while other moments are tender and vulnerable.

But whatever the emotion that flavors it, each moment is undeniably precious and defining. Each moment deserves our total presence. There never will be a “right” way to respond all the time. We can read, learn, and intellectualize to refine our mothering methods — but the bottom line is: we don’t need to behave like a mother, we need to roll up our sleeves and be a mother. There are times when salty gherkins from behind the shower curtain is the “rightest” thing in the world.

There are infinite ways to mother. You can do it like Ferber or Farber, Sears or Spock, or your mother or your yoga teacher or some wild combination of them all. But, in order to squeeze as much out of the experience as possible and really live it, you’ve got to make each moment your own; you’ve got to make the choices that work for you and for your family. Sometimes you simply have to take a deep breath, look your kid in the eye, and trust that you can blaze your own trails together.

Mothering isn’t something we learn how to do, it’s something that we allow to happen.

Blessedly, as mothers, we're never really blazing our trails alone — there is always guidance and support, and signposts along the road... the proverbial village that it takes to raise a child. There are elders, and neighbors, doctors, coaches, girlfriends, teachers, counselors... and there are great mothers all over the place. Just go to the park, spot a happy, well-adjusted kid, and draw a line from him to his mother holding his “sippy cup” and boom, there’s a lesson. Even if the lesson winds up being what not to do, watch her, she’ll teach you something. Inspiration and learning surround us all the time; we just need to be creative and receptive enough to see it.

I teach childbirth preparation classes, and I really aim to transmit an attainable measure of self confidence - in birth, in parenting and in life: Parents, you are designed to birth and raise your children. You can do it. Like all other human beings, from time to time you’ll need support. Thank G‑d, support is out there! Be wise enough to know when you are sitting atop your own answer. Then be brave enough to trust it; or at least to try it.

As a new mother living far away from the "village" that helped in the raising of me, I cling to the women and the teachings that give me the strength and confidence to tune into my “inner-book,” the one that helps me do what I was created to do. My book is a work in progress, what can I say? I certainly won’t be publishing it any time soon (G‑d only knows what part of the house it would wind up in). But, I am grateful for the journey and the lessons learned thus far.

I am grateful for the ability to apologize to my kids when I blatantly erred, to blast the music and dance the day away, to let my kids scream it out from time to time, to let myself scream it out from time to time, to snuggle against my baby while she sleeps beside me, and to pray for their health like it's the only thing in the world that matters. I am grateful for a perspective that allows me to see screwdrivers in the toothbrush holder as the creativity of an energetic and diligent tooth-brusher, to see my wrist-watch in the salad spinner as the genius of gourmet chef in the making, and see pickles in the shower as the playful antics of a healthy, fun, industrious, and hungry two year old. I didn't come to this awareness because it’s written somewhere; I come to it because these are my kids and I know them.

After the birth of my first child, my grandfather sent me a gift with a quote that said: "Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do." I am ever grateful for those words. They were among the first of many signs on my journey through motherhood.