10 Months Of Motherhood have now passed, and without being cliche, they’ve flown in. The one thing everyone tells you about becoming a parent for the first time is to embrace every moment because it all goes so quickly, and it’s probably the one thing everyone was right about. Calling the last -almost- year a learning curve is the understatement of a century, more like a learning full circle, but the main point is that every day I’ve learned something knew, whether it be about my child, myself, or about what is actually important for us both. I’ve acquired the special skills, those ones that get you through every day. The ability to survive on very little sleep, the knack to moving a baby from a car seat to pram in stealth mode without waking them up, the exact toys that can prevent an approaching tantrum. I’ve learned how to cope with a child, but I’ve also learned how to cope with the role of ‘mum’, which has easily been the hardest role to date. These may not be groundbreaking words of advice, but these are the gems’ I wish I knew when I first became mum.
You can do no right, so do it your way and ignore the masses. For every single decision made as a parent, you can guarantee someone somewhere will disagree with it. I suppose it’s the same for every decision regardless of whether your a parent or not, for some reason unbeknown to me though, the very fact that it’s a parenting choice seems to invite friends, family, Mary down the street and Bill from Southampton on Twitter to drop in their two cents. Whether it be how you feed, how you sleep, how you dress or how you address your baby, it’ll be wrong in someone’s eyes – so screw them. My decisions as a parent may not always be the ‘best’ or always the standard approach, but they are what is best for my child at the time. Putting anything online is welcoming criticism, which is a sad reality. I’m open with everything (perhaps too open) and that leaves me very much open to this criticism, I can accept it and move on, but if I wasn’t willing to, I’d keep my choices offline.
Pick Your Battles. ‘When I’m a mum, my baby will have a 7pm bedtime to enforce routine and a predictable household’ said pre-baby me. I’ll let you take one guess as to when my child’s bedtime is, but I can assure you it certainly is not 7pm, and has not been for as many months as Harrison has had a bedtime. I’m not supermum and I never will be, Harrison’ does not respond well to early nights. We spent the best part of two months trying to slowly bring his bedtime time down to this supposedly normal time for a baby to go to sleep, and ended up with a screaming child between the hours of 7pm and 9pm for two months. I pick my battles now, if Harrison’ consistently sleeps through with a 9.30pm bedtime, then a 9.30pm bedtime we will have until there comes a time that he needs an earlier one. I’m all for being the best parent I can be, but sometimes battles are not worth fighting. I’ve read the studies on television time and children and I’d love to say Harrison’ won’t be watching it or won’t be using an iPad – the reality is, for a bit of piece and an easier life at one point I’ll find myself letting him.
Emma’s Diary only applies to Emma. Don’t stress. I should have realised during the pregnancy that Emma’s diary was going to be a bit of a ball-ache, I remember nearing my due date, and working myself into a panic that my bump hadn’t dropped in the exact week it told me it would, that I was yet to lose anything that resembled a plug, or that I should have had braxton hicks throughout my third trimester. Of course, after the baby was born I did the furthest thing from disregard the book, I clung to it, checking eagerly for when the next milestone would occur. This was all fine and well until Harrison didn’t hit a milestone and I found myself wondering what I’d done wrong that prevented him from hitting this crucial developmental mark. Now, looking back I can see it’s an absolute farce. Whilst Emma’s Diary and the similar monthly development series are good as a general guide, they are broad, extremely loose and absolutely no reflection on your child’s development. Emma may have been playing peekaboo at 9 months old, but Harrison certainly wasn’t and that is not a bad thing. Development is individual to each child, I wish I’d just realised that earlier and saved myself some unnecessary stress. Do yourself a favor and unsubscribe to the bloody emails, the freebie pack is pants anyway.
Everything is temporary. Things can be going to absolute shit for weeks on end, and just as you get to the absolute end of your tether, something will click and normality will restore. Conversely, you could have the most well behaved little baby in the world (I say behaved loosely, as I am not sure a baby could ever be described as ‘behaved’), one of those enviable sleep through the night kinds, or a baby who’ll eat absolutely anything put down to them and you could be sailing along, only for the switch to flip and you to be confronted with the complete opposite of an easy life. Everything is a phase with children. Absolutely bloody everything. That’s a brilliant thing sometimes, but it’s also an absolute nightmare when your currently in one of the golden periods – I’ve now learned to expect the unexpected.
Your home (and yourself) may look a little worse for wear. But that’s fine. I’ve lost count of the amount of times over the last few months I’ve wondered what on earth has happened to me. I could swear I’ve never been this unkempt before. This is my personal experience, I’m sure others come through child birth looking like a film start and stay that way for the foreseeable future. Let me tell you, I certainly did not. My hair is limp, my make-up is just not that great anymore and it’s a rareity that an outfit doesn’t have some sort of stain on it. I’m just a bit worse for wear at the minute, and the same can be said for my home. No matter how many times I tidy, I can almost guarantee in an hours time it’ll be back to looking like a bomb hit. Unless it’s nap time, thank heavens for nap time. I may moan, but truth be told I just don’t really care at the minute, I have bigger fish to fry than worrying endlessly about my hair and my kitchen worktop.
It can be amazing. There’s no feeling like it. It can’t be explained and I won’t bother to try, but the love you have for this little tiny human is not comparable to anything else, completely unconditional, completely consuming. You can have gone 48 hours without sleep, have eyebags the size of a suitcase and feel numb with exhaustion, and one smile will make you completely forget it all (you’ll remember again quickly when the coffee wears off).
It’s not always amazing. Parenting can be a culture shock and the first few months can be difficult. Some people sail through, others are less sail and more drowning in choppy waters, but at one point, everything will just get better. I can’t talk for everyone, every single experience of first time parenthood is completely different, but at one point, we will all have a shitty moment or ten. A moment where there is a dark cloud hanging above and it feels like it won’t get any better, it’s not always fun and games, but all it will take is one giggle, one grin or one silent moment to realise that however shit a single moment may be, it’s only fleeting.
I am a much better mum than I think I am. I was with filled with self doubt in the first few months, I still am slightly and I will probably stay that way for the foreseeable future, but I am a good mum to Harrison. We’ve made it through ten months unscathed and I’ve not damaged him substantially yet. I’ve kept him fed, watered, clean and smiling, so that’s more than enough for me. It’s easy to compare yourself to everyone else, and with that everyone and anyone ready to comment on everything your doing wrong anyway, it’s easy to believe you aren’t doing a good job. I lost so much sleep (on top of the sleep already lost) stressing about not taking Harrison to swimming lessons at 4 months old, or missing the baby sensory experience, or not breastfeeding, when I was doing my best at the time and was doing just fine. It’s taken ten months, but I now have enough confidence to believe in myself and the decisions I’ve made.
I read a ridiculous amount of posts like this before having Harrison, thinking I was somehow preparing myself beforehand, when really you won’t actually learn anything until your forced to. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but these are the things’ I wish I’d really understood when I first became ‘mum’.