A title we all hold, yet our job description vary greatly!
I remember being pregnant and walking through the isles at Tesco in search of the items on my shopping list.
When I say walk, what I really mean is that I waddled! But not just any cute little waddle!
I didn’t just waddle like a duck, I waddled like a duck pregnant with triplets.
I considered that perhaps I should change the direction and simply give up the search for baby nappies in the hope of finding a pack of Tena lady.
On my way towards the feminine hygiene isle, I bypassed the bottles and decided to grab a few. My first born was due in the end of October and we had a party planned for New Year’s Eve when she would be 2 months old. I grabbed some that looked like they would feed my baby when my breasts were out partying in a glitzy dress.
I had all these plans for what kind of mother I would be and had so much judgement for those who didn’t fit inside my narrow mothering “box“- yet I had no idea how becoming a mother would change me and how it would shake up all my ideas of what a mother should be and what she should do!
I decided to stay away from the formula isle, after all I would be breastfeeding and on occasion I would be expressing so I could have perfect and glamourus maternity leave, filled with party’s and weekends away where I’d return to a happy cherub baby who slept 14h nights from birth.
And then it started…
My image of motherhood was quickly shattered with a poorly baby who refused to latch to my breast. I ended up spending my first few weeks attached to a milking machine whilst desperately trying to comfort my baby who spent the majority of her days crying from pain which Doctors belived to be reflux.
When my daughter was about 10 weeks old, I started to feel somewhat on top of things. We were exiting this rather foggy period and we were still alive. I was starting to feel on top of this!
One winter morning; you know that crisp and sunny kind, we had returned from a soothing walk! My daughter was snoozing in the baby carrier and I was busy tidying up the previous nights kitchen madness when I spotted the 3 pack of bottles with fast flow teats, that I had purchased in the preparation for my New Year’s Eve away.
As I was standing there my daughter made a sudden jerk- her arms flew out and the fright turned her from a sleeping bundle to a hysteric little baby in an instant. I closed my arms around her and just stood there thinking about my previous visions of motherhood! Now that my previous daughter was here I couldn’t bare to be away from her- she was my heart worn on the outside of my body!
I packed the “New Years bottles” away in the charity bag.
Smelling my daughter’s head and gently stroking her cheek I realised how unrealistic my expectations had been. I had all these ideas of what kind of mother I would be by infact it wasn’t realistic, not for me atleast.
Society coloured parenting and especially mothering as something glamorous with lengthy, expensive breaks and glasses of champagne. That was so far from my experience as I stood in my messy kitchen, inhaling my beloved child!
Although motherhood was nothing like what I expected and infact it had humbled me, shock me up and overwhelmed me; I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.
We spent New Year’s Eve at home with our little girl and we have ever since.
My friend whom has a son slightly older then my girl had a completely different approach. She happily left her son to his loving grandmother and went away to France for a long weekend when he was 14 weeks old. She was heavily criticised and told that her place was with her son.
Although I wasn’t ready to be apart from my child, I knew that what I felt towards my child was completely irrelevant when it came to how my friend raised her child.
Her little holiday refilled her cup meaning she had more to give when she was reunited with her son! I didn’t have the same needs and I still don’t!
Suddenly I found myself a mother of a 3 year old and not once had I spent the night away from her.
Funnily enough I simply didn’t feel ready to be apart from this little human we had created, although I had totally planned to be completely different, my “freedom” no longer appealed to me.
My friend on the other hand continued to have girls weekends away and holidays with the husband! Although we both devoted ourselves to breastfeeding, and caring for our children we did it in such different ways.
Initially many had something negative to say about her mini holidays without her baby, and many praised me for staying solidly by my child’s side.
As the kids where nearing 3 and 4 my friend was told she deserved a holiday and she was right to go where as suddenly many of our friends turned their attention to me.
I had gone from being someone they’d praise for my constant parental precence to someone they would heavily question as someone who was weak and dependant!
“Surely you need a break, you can’t want to be with your children all the time? That’s not healthy”.
Suddenly I was told I was too attached. I needed to leave my child- what I was doing was not healthy for either of us. I felt embarrassed that I simply wanted to spend the precious early years with my babies.
Today, my friend’s son and my daughter are both lovely kids who are fiercely independent and confident but like their mothers they are completely different humans with completely different needs- I fulfil the needs of my children and she fulfil the needs of hers!
At this point you may wonder where I’m going with this! I have been rambling on somewhat.
So here it is! My point is that instead of so readily criticising each other for making different choices, we should accept each other’s differences.
If a child is having his needs meet according to individuality and the developmental stages, we need to turn our focus on ourselves instead of concentrating on others parenting decisions.
These so called “mummy wars” wouldn’t excist if we simply decided to aim our focus on being the best parent we can possibly be instead of criticising others for not fitting in our mould.
My friend need weekends away, and that is ok! I want to be near my children, and that’s ok too
Unfortunately, neither one of us has had a baby who presented us with diamond filled nappies!
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