The other day as Emma and I were out and about I got a call from my best friend, who has a gorgeous 3 month old baby boy. She had been at a baby group and another mother, upon watching her breastfeed decided to tell her that she read in the newspaper that a woman exclusively breastfed her child and one day he/she just dropped dead. Now, those of us with toddlers can roll our eyes at that, but as I take myself back to when Emma was 3 months old, I would be just as worried as she was. All she said to me is “I just need you to tell me I’m doing the right thing”.
She is doing the right thing. You only have to take one look at her gorgeous boy to see that. He’s perfect. She’s doing amazingly well and juggling it all effortlessly. She is a supermum already, waking every 2 hours to feed and just trying to stay sane throughout the day. I’m so proud of her. But like all of us, she winging it every second of the day (like a boss I might add!) because these babies didn’t come with an instruction manual. We don’t have a boss who can pull us into their office and give us a monthly appraisal. It’s Mummy and Daddy working it all out on our own, and most of the time we’ve got our fingers crossed the entire time that we made the right decision.
How many times has this happened to you – an inappropriate comment about how you are bringing up your baby. It starts off as a newborn, there’s comments on how you change their nappies, what wipes you use “my friend Sheila swears by Pampers, you can’t scrimp on these things you know”, to how you feed them. Then before long you have to wean them and the baby led weaners throw in their sixpence worth. I’ve even had comments that it’s not right Emma is going to nursery and being at home with me would be better. Whenever I hear these, I try to let it wash over me but sometimes that is so hard. It reminds me of the Amy Poehler quote “good for her, not for me”. Why can’t we just accept that we all make decisions for our family and just because that might be different to yours, it doesn’t make it wrong. It’s just your choice.
I’ve written before about how much this irritates me, but what bothers me more is that with new mums, it can really knock their confidence. When you are utterly sleep deprived and mainlining in coffee and cheese on toast, it’s like the perfect storm. One little comment makes you question everything you are doing – should you be doing it differently? What happens if I’m being negligent and just didn’t realise? And above all, I just don’t understand why people can’t just smile and comment on how sweet and adorable your baby is. Surely that can’t be too much to ask?
So if you’re a new mum reading this, perhaps something similar has happened to you. Perhaps you dared go to the supermarket without putting socks on your child and a Granny at the checkout tells you how you must ALWAYS put socks on the poor girl’s feet (may or may not come from real experiences). Or maybe you’ve had ‘the look’ when your child starts tantrumming in a cafe for some unknown reason. Perhaps you’ve had those judgemental comments about the type of snacks you give your child and whether they drink out of a sippy cup at 10 months or not.
Just remember this: you’re doing great and that self-doubt is totally normal and absolutely inevitable. It’s easy to believe that everyone around you has a Pinterest-worthy set up to raising their kids. However take away that sugar coating and the reality is this: we’re all just doing the best we can for our mini humans. Some days will be alright, and others a complete shocker but we’re doing it and parenthood is a tougher gig that any of us care to admit. Because admitting it would make us all hideously overwhelmed. Take one step at a time for now and remind yourself how far you’ve come every day.