Today, I crossed over to the “dark side” of parenting.
I bought B4 a dummy (pacifier).
Now, I feel the need to justify why. He’s trying to suck his thumb but misses his mouth and pokes himself in the eye or scratches his face. So that makes this OK, right? It’s a temporary arrangement, until he can work his hands better, so that makes this OK, right?
Hang on a second, why do I have to justify my parenting to anyone?
That brings me to another question, why is there so much guilt attached to parenting?
For some, the guilt starts in pregnancy. You’re not doing this right, you’re not doing that.
For others it starts with the way they gave birth. I had specific requests for all 4 of my births, that was my choice and no one else’s business. It was my personal choice. I would never bash or criticise another mother because she chose a different way to give birth. Who’s business is it? We’re all warriors anyway for growing another human!!!!
I’ve breastfed 2 babies and bottle fed 2 babies. I was bottle feeding B2 in public and a complete stranger come up to me to say how breastfeeding is best and why am I giving such a young baby a bottle. I then wouldn’t feed him in public. WTF! Breastfeeding in public I’ve had comments to cover up or go elsewhere to feed. A couple of weeks ago I was at a venue and asked if they had a room where I could feed B4. I was directed to the toilets. Um, hello, are you going to eat your lunch in the toilet???? What sort of world do we live in where no matter which way I choose to feed my baby I am made to feel self-conscious about doing it in public.
I breastfed B3 until he was 2 and a half. How dare I breastfeed an older toddler and “damage” him. Um what????? Damage him???? Wouldn’t damaging him be forcing him to wean because society doesn’t feel comfortable seeing an older child be soothed and comforted by a breast! I allowed him to self wean, there was no drama, there was no stress, there were no tears, it just happened, naturally and neither of us gave it a second thought.
Stay at home Mum v working Mum. I’ve been both. Returning to work when B1 was 6 months old and then again when B2 was 11 weeks old I faced a barrage of criticism, how dare I leave such a young baby with a stranger at a Child Care Centre. Well excuse me it’s either work or not have a roof over our heads and food to eat. And these “strangers” have become like extended members of my family, they are the most wonderful people who treat my children like they are their own and I am forever grateful that my children have been cared for by them.
With B3 I stayed home for 12 months and at this stage with B4 I’m unsure when or if I will return to work. What’s that? I’m lazy for staying at home and not working to provide for my family. LAZY!!! Come spend a day at my home and see how lazy I am.
Then, I happen to make comment that I need something else other than children to keep my mind busy. OMG what a terrible mother I am that I don’t enjoy this 24 hours a day 7 days a week and I need something else to occupy my mind.
10 years ago I don’t remember there being different parenting “styles”. I’d never heard of attachment parenting. I researched it and put many of the theories into practice with B3, but more out of necessity. Hello, 3 children and I have 2 hands – someone is always going to miss out and both my older children were “runners” so it made sense to wear B3. I’m doing the same with B4 for the same reason. But apparently I’m spoiling my baby by wearing him all the time.
I’ve let babies cry it out to try to get them to sleep, I’ve rocked, I’ve held, I’ve comforted. It doesn’t matter, when they’re young they’re not designed to sleep! Do what works for you and move on. I’ve tried everything over the years and none of my children are spoiled from being held all the time and none are cold serial killers from being allowed to cry a bit.
Screen time. Hmmm, my 2-year-old knows how to turn on the TV, find Netflix and select age appropriate programs. My 10-year-old knows more about the latest technology than I do and my “day job” is in IT. Yes, I use the TV as a baby sitter from time to time. I like to shower in peace!
Guess what? Sometimes at the end of the day I look at my kids feet and they’re covered in dirt from running around on the tiled floor I haven’t mopped for a week, I know the staff in the local McDonald’s drive through by name, sometimes we have cereal for dinner. And do you know what else? I’m a bloody good Mum, my kids are awesome and I would do anything for them!
Over time in this 10 year career in motherhood I have learned:
- by the time you’re 40 weeks pregnant (or more in 3 of my 4 full term pregnancies) you don’t care and it doesn’t matter how the baby comes out – pull it out of my damn nostril if it will help get it out as long as it comes out
- it doesn’t matter how your baby is fed as long as it’s fed
- it doesn’t matter if you there 24/7 or working to provide the best for your family
- And it doesn’t damn matter if you use soothers, comforters, hold your baby day and night or put them in their bassinet to cry for 5 minutes why you take a breather.
So, lets stop the Mummy and Daddy guilt, lets support each other, acknowledge that this is the hardest job in the world and we’re all just doing what we can to survive each day and raise happy healthy kids.
Kirsty is the founder of That Noise Is Mine.
An established blogger, writer and business owner raising 4 children independently. Kirsty is determined to succeed in this new life forced upon her.