Having a baby brings about the craziest mix of emotions with a side order of ‘I’m going to make all the wrong decisions and screw up my kid before they’re even 1’ kind of anxiety.
Parenting is hard; it’s a confusing world of contradictions and judgement and often feels like nothing you are doing is the ‘correct’ way of doing things. So on that topic, there’s a few things I need to get off my now less-than-perky chest…
I’m pretty tired of feeling like we constantly have to defend our choices for our little crotch-fruit. This has all been most recently triggered by my decision to go back to working part-time. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but Amélie is now 9 and a half months old and fiercely independent. She LOVES her time at her nursery with the amazing ladies who work there, adores being around other children and I am back to working a 20 hour week, finding my own independence again. So whilst I understand it may not be a decision that would work for everyone with a 9 month old baby, it *is* the right thing for us. It works really well and we’re both happy.
But that hasn’t stopped me receiving criticism from total clowns (usually childless) as well as people close to us, who feel it’s totally acceptable to share their unwelcome opinion on our parenting choices. ‘She’s too young’, ‘You’re going to miss out on important milestones’, ‘She will become really clingy’, ‘You will regret it in the future’ etc.
It’s really not fair to shove unwanted opinions on others, especially in this example, when it took a lot of difficult thought and courage for me to go through it with in the first place.
I thought I would take this opportunity to cover some other pretty common contradictory judgements we’ve faced so far in parenthood:
- Breastfeeding is offensive and you should be embarrassed to get your nips out to feed your baby in public BUT choosing to bottle feed your child formula is frowned upon.
- Co-sleeping with your baby is horrendously dangerous and they will most likely die BUT putting your baby in a different room too early is cruel and they will have abandonment issues later in life.
- You should give your child a strict, army-like, rigid routine everyday to make them feel secure BUT you should follow your baby’s natural lead and not watch the clock.
- Using sleep training methods such as ‘crying it out’ means you don’t love your baby and they will grow up to probably have brain damage BUT comfort feeding your baby to sleep means they’ll be so reliant on you that you’ll have to move to university with them in order for them to get some ZZ’s.
- Putting your baby down in a bouncer or a walker is detrimental to their mental and physical development BUT holding them all day too much is spoiling them and they will be stuck to you limpet-style for the foreseeable future.
- You should vaccinate your baby to prevent them catching life-threatening illnesses BUT getting your baby vaccinated could give them life-threatening illnesses.
- Being a stay at home mum means you’re lazy BUT putting them into nursery and focusing yourself back on a career (even part time) means you’re a selfish mother.
*facepalm* We. Can’t. Win.
We all want to be strong mothers, confident in the decisions we are making for the future of our love goblins but there’s ALWAYS someone who wants to tell you you’re doing it wrong. It’s no wonder so many of us struggle and question whether we are doing things ‘right’. So (whilst it’s taken me a little while to realise) I think there are 3 very important things to remember YOU as a parent are in charge of:
1.) What your baby does
2.) What you do
3.) NOT caring whether others do or don’t like it.
We are all just doing the best we can with the tools available to us, no one is perfect, far from it and I’m beginning to believe that anyone who feels the need to take judgement on our parenting abilities or choices is usually just struggling with their own insecurities.
Like that ol’ saying goes, if you’re worrying that you are a ‘bad mother’ it generally means you aren’t a half bad one, because bad mothers don’t waste time worrying whether they are actually are bad mothers.
Whilst we can’t prevent gobby strangers criticising our every move, perhaps the best thing we can do as parents is stop judging each other and raise (an albeit cold) cup of tea to our fellow mothers for the tough decisions they’re making every day (unless they’re teaching children to drown kittens or be racist, then no, don’t do that).
We are all exhausted and terrified our decisions are screwing up the small people who we love the very most. I’m sure at times we have all found ourselves lost in this scary parenting landscape (more often than not because our map has been ripped up and puked on by our baby) and we could all use a little support. So let’s stick together, after all one of the best lessons we can pass on to our offspring is not to judge others.
And if you really do feel the need to comment on our parenting decisions, I will kindly accept your views written on a piece of paper that I will glady use to clean up Amélie’s next explosive nappy.
So to all mothers new and not-so-new, even if you don’t believe it right now, you’re a great mum and you’re doing a great job. Go forth and make the choices that work for you and your bambino without fear of judgement from other people. Those decisions you’re struggling to make right now, will be the BEST decisions for you and YOUR baby, why? Because you made them.