Monday, 25 January 2016
The Truth in Parenting
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 façade. 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!
Essentially Jess - IBOT