I’ve decided that as much as I have a lot to speak about (my brain is full of cray cray ideas that keep me buzzing), parenthood doesn’t appeal to everyone so on Monday’s I’ll be writing about things I have learned since becoming a responsible (ha!) and polished (hahaha!) mother. These blogs also rightly relate to fathers too, but I’m speaking from my point of view. (Oh that rhymed)
Today I came across an article which was aimed at new mums. It was full of OH SO HANDY tips such as “keep your baby clean and fed” (no shit), “get dressed even on your worst days” and “force yourself to go out at least once a day.” Now, like all mothers, these are unreasonable things to suggest to mothers, ESPECIALLY new mothers. All it does is make you feel like you have failed; the pressure surrounding parents is absolutely suffocating and a majority of mothers need to hear the reality of things. Good for you if you go out on daily walks and look decent every single day but there’s not a mother I know who has managed that and it shouldn’t be advice we give to new mums (It should be along the lines of “hahahahaha you are SO SCREWED”). When I became a mother I had a cesarean section and I’d prepared myself, or so I thought, on how to quickly become “the perfect mum” despite knowing that I was about to have major surgery. It all seemed simple enough; get dressed, have breakfast, go for a walk, nap when the baby naps, pop on a bit of mascara and lipstick, oh and obvs just keep your baby alive.
Suddenly he was here and the midwives were obsessed with boobs. Dexter couldn’t physically breastfeed (he had a tongue tie which was diagnosed too late) and I was being told that breast is best. I had failed already it seemed. I was envious of those who could provide the best for their child whilst I was only supplying second best. My son wouldn’t sleep in his own crib no matter how much we tried for six weeks and after an hours sleep per night, frustration and desperate tears we gave in to co-sleeping! We bought a good co-sleeping crib that attached to our bed and the first night we used it, he slept happily and comfortably for six hours! Any mother will tell you that those first peaceful six hours felt like the most bewildering, satisfying, elevating nights sleep in their lives. But again, it didn’t last long that I felt this content because people started sending me warning emails about the dangers of co sleeping. Thanks for that by the way. As if hormones weren’t playing havoc with me already, these warnings gave me the “first time parent fears” and I became obsessed with SIDS and told myself that I am putting my son at risk. I was tired, like most mums, of the constant disputes with perfect mothers who chose to preach to me, teaching me a valuable lesson in how to be better for Dexter. It broke my heart and I felt as though I’d failed miserably when I’d only just begun.
The last time someone told me I was doing something wrong was on a facebook group for mums and I simply said “That’s your opinion. We parent differently but this is the way me and my partner have chosen and it’ll stay that way until we both decide otherwise”, I thought that was reasonable. Others thought otherwise. They all started calling me stuck up, arrogant and then finally a parents worst nightmare: they called my baby ugly. I sat on the sofa and cried. Cried because of the pressure, the constant silent resentment towards mums that were better than me but mainly, I cried because the one time I confronted someone and told them I wanted to raise our son OUR way, they verbally abused myself and my beautiful, innocent baby boy. I couldn’t take the pressure or the comments anymore; the constant need to worry about my son, if he was big enough, if he ate enough, if he was sleeping enough. All of the others mums (certain online mum sites that I feel the need to warn people about. I’ll give you a hint. Mums on the net…) seemed to think that I was the problem and that I should be doing more when I asked for simple advice and discussion. So I made a decision.
I deleted all of the mum groups and listened to the positives instead! I recorded each happy memory and each step of progress knowing that I was doing just fine. If I had to advise a new mum or a new dad on how to handle being first time parents, I’d tell them to read this and to expect the same BS pressure that consumes us all.
I quite often have pyjama days with my son, we watch disney films, I don’t wear much make up anymore, I go an entire day without having food sometimes (I know I know. Part of having a toddler yo!) and the main thing is, I know I’m not perfect. My flaws are all part of a journey, my flaws will be repaired and then I’ll gain more flaws in the process. I will ALWAYS have flaws and that’s something I’ve accepted. So I asked some fellow friends and mothers what their advice would be to new mums and first time mums and I’m happy to say that I loved every piece of advice:
“Just remember the babies never read the books!” – Carol
“It’s okay if your baby feeds every hour on the hour!! It will eventually even out!” – Aimee
“I’ve been a mum for three weeks so I don’t exactly have a wealth of experience. But one thing that has really helped me came from a conversation I had with my mental health case-worker. It’s that I should approach the day to day business of being a Mum the same way I approached my job, because this IS my job now. So I write a to-do list every day but now my things are “do a load of washing” “take vitamin” “take baby outside even if you only make it to the car park” etc which really helps me focus and get things done (anxiety makes me procrastinate)” – Vicky
“You are enough; you provide all your baby needs and more. Don’t compare yourself with anyone else or with any of the books or the films or the perfect mummy types you think you see all around you. How much sleep, tummy time, formula, breast milk etc your baby is getting or how fast they’re developing, how cracked or not your nipples are, how wobbly or flat your tummy is. It is all totally unique! This is YOUR journey. Fuck the cooking, the housework, the sex and having to see people – your only obligations are to yourself and your baby. Look after yourself or you won’t be able to look after your child.” – Charlie
“Don’t assume what works for one child will work for a second or third! You don’t have to be and can’t be everything. You need to be enough. Just be with your child it flies by so quickly in hindsight” – Lowri
And my personal favourite
“It is perfectly ok to have lopsided boobs from breastfeeding. 👍” – DeeDee
A variety of different women, different experiences with different advice. They all tell you one thing (even DeeDee!) though and that’s if your baby is healthy and happy, you’re doing enough. Look after YOU too. You deserve it.
Like me for example, I was totes inspired to write this blog after finishing an entire cup of hot chocolate! It’s the little things.
Jeez. My life has changed.