So. Here’s the thing. I’m telling you now so it’s not a shock or a surprise.
You’re going to need to be so very bold and brave. In bucket loads. Not just for a little while, or when your baby first arrives, but you will need to be like this as a parent, forever.
People will question your every move and decision and you will need to have faith in yourself as the person that knows your child better than anyone else. People will challenge you about a myriad of different things and family, friends and strangers will often roll their eyes. There will be a constant stream of ‘Well I never did it that way’ or ‘Well maybe you should…’ This is when you need to stand firm, take a deep breath, be true to yourself and say ‘Well, we’re doing it this way.’
In essence you are going to need to be Superhero tough.
I never realised I was going to have to stand up for what my husband and I wanted for our children quite so often and quite so early in our parenting journey. It can be exhausting having to justify the whys and wherefores and I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to. You don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. Your baby is your love and your ultimate prize possession and you do what you feel is right.
Does it matter if we’re all doing it slightly differently? Does it matter if one picks one nursery and someone else another? Does it matter that one uses reusable nappies and the other disposable? No. It doesn’t. We are all just doing our best for our own small people and we need to cut each other some slack.
I am letting you know now that (even though we’re not supposed to say it) you are about to join one of the most competitive groups out there. Parents.
Everything seems to be a competition or a race. Ignore it. Ignore it all. Wallow in the stages of growth and development your child goes through. The sitting up, the crawling, the toddling, the first smile, the first tooth. It’s all absolutely magical so please don’t be worried or swayed if your bundle isn’t doing the same things at the same time as everyone else in the local NCT group. Chances are your little one is doing things at their own pace.
Parenting is basically a whole lot of paranoid grownups making it up as they go along. The tricky part is that each of them has a completely different child, so obviously, what works for one won’t automatically work for another. Hence the reason you need to go with your gut and do what you feel is right for your baby, you and your family unit.
I never really left my babies to cry very much, in fact with the first I almost pounced on him if he so much as squeaked down the baby monitor. I was a nervous new mum without her own mum around for reassurance, just desperate to be doing it right. The second one I left slightly longer, which most parents will admit is down to nothing other than logistics. You’re usually wrestling a toddler’s nappy on first so they don’t wee on the sofa, before you can run up to sooth baby number two. A problem that doesn’t exist with the first. It felt right to me to pick them up as soon as I could and consequently I had two pretty happy babies that never really cried much at all. That said I was aware that some thought (and maybe still do) that I was an ‘overbearing mother’ a mother that was guilty of ‘mollycoddling’ that would raise two insecure in-confident children. Not true. So, if you can’t please everyone, please yourself and your baby first!
Motherhood certainly toughens you up. It fires up your protective instinct to a point that you shouldn’t care less what others think but it’s still incredibly tough when people are so very judgemental. This is something I think many parents would admit they struggle with on a daily basis.
I am constantly surprised still today (and our boys are four and six years old) that anyone else is so interested or bothered in how we raise them. I guess parents and especially new ones are easily rattled. It’s no wonder, really. We are ALL without exception, exhausted and yet filled with immense love and the urge to do things the right way. What I’ve learned is that generally, the right way is what is right for you, your children and your family. Happy parents, happy baby seems to generally be the way things go.
Friends and family of new parents
So, if you are a friend or family member that knows someone about to become a new parent please, don’t judge them. Support them 100% and give them lots of love. Advise them but respect the fact that their decisions for their family are their own and might very well be different to yours.
You know your child, you know you, you know your family and how it works. Not every family needs the same things, not every family wants the same things.