In the throws of first time parenting I remember regularly saying the words ‘I can’t believe they feed her…’, ‘I’m so surprised that they let him… ‘, and the classic’ I would never do what they do with… ‘.
I judged your feeding, your discipline, your cooking and your general parenting. It wasn’t that I thought I was better or in any way superior, if anything I was jealous that you could give them some ready made food and pawn them off to granny and be so relaxed about it.
Ha! How wrong was I?! I basically do EVERYTHING and more that I said I never would. Parenting is HARD! And trying to follow the advice and ‘shoulds’ of research and stay sane is impossible without a huge amount of support and money. I well and truly lost my marbles trying to do everything right and thinking you were doing it wrong.
Dare I broach the subject of breastfeeding? It’s always a controversial one I know and I’m no breastfeeding nazi and to be clear I think everyone should feed however they are comfortable. Well, now I think that. When I had my little screaming non-sleeping bundle of joy who fed 2 hourly round the clock until she was 10 months old I thought, ‘if she has stopped breastfeeding her baby then she just hasn’t tried hard enough’. Yes, breastfeeding is SO hard. babies often don’t sleep, they fuss and give you not one ounce of freedom to do your own thing. But it is rammed down our throats that it is best for baby. ‘Just express a few bottles each day so dad can share feeds and bond with baby’ I was told. This translated to desperately trying to find 45 minutes each day to sterilise the pump, express a bottle, give the bottle to Bob that evening for him and baby to be locked in a bitter screaming vs wills match until I can no longer listen to it or make them both suffer and whop my boob out. I have never been so happy as when Bob told me that bathtime could be his thing instead. Advice is shit and unrealistic. What’s the point in making breastfeeding sound rosey and wonderful for people to be hit with the harsh reality and be totally unprepared? I digress…
Now, I still strongly feel that breast is best TO A POINT. If mum or baby starts to suffer then it is certainly not best. I pushed through the crap time of breastfeeding and was really proud I did, but I feel it had a detrimental effect for me and I certainly don’t think someone who decides not to breastfeed is failing or choosing themselves over baby any more. Choosing yourself and your sanity is choosing your baby.
Before I had kids I remember a friend telling me about someone who had a little baby and ‘there were dirty nappies all over the place’. Poor baby I thought! I will literally give you a hundred pounds if you come into my house and don’t find a dirty nappy somewhere.
Before I had kids I looked at mummies I knew and thought I definitely won’t be like her she’s too uptight and restricted by routines etc. I’ll be like her, chilled out, kids are chilled and sleep well, it’s obvious. Well it turns out you have very little control over the sort of parent you become. The baby decides. I didn’t want to be routine focused, ha! My kids both thrive on it and are NUT JOBS without one. And I’m definitely not chilled out.
Before I had kids I was sure I would go back to work after maternity leave. I then became so anxious and had the worlds clingyest baby I couldn’t do it. I trained as a childminder to be able to work from home and JUDGED everyone who went back to work. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I now think going back to work is a brilliant thing to do. It’s so important to keep your own identity and freedom outside of your kids. I do think my depression had a big part to play (and still does as I’m currently trying to not feel guilty about starting number 1 at nursery) in not being able to go back to work.
In hindsight you who gave yourself a break, you who let others help, you who relinquished some control and let go of the house work were the ones who got it right. You allowed so much more space for you.
Whatever you decide with your kids and however you choose to parent them is totally correct and right. You need to be happy and comfortable with all decisions in order to not have them negatively impact you. All parents are doing a great job as it is HARD! xx