Monday, 25 January 2016

The Truth in Parenting

Becoming a mother is so intimidating. I can't say I always wanted to be a mother, but for the few years before I had my baby this definitely changed. These years and the year that followed the birth of my little koala was full of anxiety.  It was confusing, often scary, and many times paralysing.  I always wondered about what kind of mother I would be. I worried about how I would cope and how I could give her everything she deserved. I suppose I have always been a natural worrier. My husband would tell you I stress over everything so its no surprise I would (and still do) stress about whether my little girl is hitting the right milestones, whether its normal to not sleep through the night or whether she says enough words.

I've only been a mother for about 16 months so I am certainly no expert on babies. I'm beginning to stress just a little bit less as time goes on. To be honest, being a mother to me feels totally natural. I am starting to realise there is no such thing as a perfect baby/toddler/child and no one really has an 'easy' child. Every parent has their own challenges, we only see what they chose to show to the world.

I am part of a group of about 100 mothers and we discuss everything baby (and not baby) related. From teething to sleeping to poo, nothing is off limits. Its a fantastic group because everyone is so honest. Naturally everyone is willing to share their parenting (and life) wins, but they are also willing to share where their parenting struggles. What strikes me is that not one of them would claim to have a toddler who sleeps through the night, walks, says full sentences, has weaned off baby bottles, is great at independent play, doesn't have tantrums and eats whatever is cooked for them. To be honest, most mothers would say their toddler might only do two or three of those things or even none at all!

My toddler didn't sleep through the night until she was about 10 months old, and still has bad nights at least once a week. My toddler hardly ever eats the delicious food I spend ages preparing for her and would rather gobble some frozen bubble and squeak. My toddler says no more than a few words. My toddler is super-clingy and will not play alone. My toddler loves to have tantrums when she doesn't get what she wants.

Does any of this make me a bad mother? Of course not. It makes me a real mother. Does that mean my child isn't developing well? Absolutely not! She is very intelligent and communicates really effectively without words. She understands everything we say and follows complex instructions easily. She walked early and is a happy and social little girl.

It seems that every mother feels like they are failing in some way because their child isn't doing everything. There is such a long list of what are children should be doing and we feel like failures if one of those things aren't our reality.

As mothers, we are constantly comparing ourselves to others. I'm sure every mother has friends with children and you constantly hear stories about the fantastic development your friend's babies are making. What you might see is a friend post about their baby crawling at 5 months and walking at 9 months while you may still be waiting for your 14 month old to walk. You may think maybe your baby has a problem when they probably don't. You see that glowing Facebook status. But what you don't see is behind that Facebook fa├žade. That same mother might be concerned that their earlier walker is yet to say a word at 15months or still doesn't sleep through the night.

I definitely still stress, but not as much as I used to. I still compare myself as a mother to other mothers and compare their child's development with mine. Its hard not to. Even before we have children everyone tells us how to be parents and what our kids should be doing. Its hard to ignore it all and listen to ourselves instead.

Lets start taking a lead from our children. They aren't self conscious. They aren't comparing themselves to others. They just do what comes naturally. They make mistakes and they learn from them and move on. They are learning and growing, just like their parents.

Here's to all the mother and fathers who feel like they aren't doing enough. The fact that you care enough to worry shows that you are doing it right!


Linking with:
Essentially Jess - IBOT


  1. Comparison is good, if we use it to better ourselves instead of putting anyone down.

  2. Exactly "They just do what comes naturally."

    So true Lu! We all need to rely on our own instincts more and stop trying to compete in the parenting Olympics.

  3. You're so right that every single child and parent are different and we're all just doing our best. When you start comparing your child or their development or your parenting tactics with other people - well, that way lies madness! As long as your instincts are telling you that you're all doing OK, listen to them first.

  4. A fantastic post Lu... You are so right on that toddlers all have their strengths and weakness... Miss M has always been a good sleeper, yet she lacks social and emotional skills typical of her age (read my latest blog about her sharing difficulties!!)
    So great to hear you have a supportive and fantastic mothers group - I do too! xx

  5. A good support network really helps when those comparison feelings come to the surface. I was so glad that I had a really good group of Mums as friends when I went to a health nurse for Mr 6's 18 month old check up and she told me that he should be talking in sentences. I was able to brush that off as her having just read a guideline and not realised that there are children on either side of it. He was delayed in speaking, but now I just wish he'd stop talking for 5 minutes lol!

  6. Thanks for this post Lu. I was terrible at comparing milestones with my first because he was always lagging so far behind and it caused me to worry quite a lot. So much so I left FB for a bit so I could just go back to my own little world awhile and NOT compare! He eventually did start walking (19 months), talking (3 years old) and now he's a pretty smart little firecracker if I do say so myself! It can be so hard not to compare and worry though when you're new at it. Number 2 I was much more relaxed (it helped he was right on time with everything though to be fair!).

  7. Lovely :). I never felt the stress of my son reaching milestones at certain ages, but I still worried about other things. It all comes with being a parent. The parent worrying/guilt. It's an awful feeling, but it comes to all of us.

  8. Parenting is a funny thing, because it suddenly defines who we are. I think that's why mother's can be so competitive. If their child isn't doing things at the right time, they feel it is a reflection of them. If we all let that go, and just focused on the fact that we are doing our best, everything would be so much easier.

  9. Wouldn't life be so much easier if we didn't compare ourselves to other mothers? I have to say I was a little obsessed with it in the beginning and I was also a very anxious mother. I have gotten a lot better as she's got older, but I still compare myself at times. #teamIBOT

  10. Lovely post , so insightful and supportive.
    I've been parenting for over 21yrs and I'm still on a learning curve.

  11. I think there's only one right way to parent and that's "do the best you can." I think if you're raising a happy human then you're doing a bang up job!

  12. For my first bub I used to compare what I was doing all the time because I didn't have a clue! But it depended on the day how I took on the comparisons that I made.

  13. YES! We need to follow our kids lead. Fall down, get back up, try again. Advice we hear fairly often, but linking it to our toddlers' example? Best bit of parenting advice I've read. Thank you!