I really do wonder at times whether I missed one of my ante-natal jabs with Blake. I had the flu-jab, I took supplements until I rattled, but I am quite convinced that I missed out on the dose of conviction that so many other first time Mums seem to possess.
They must hand this stuff out surely? Because I vividly remember the magnitude of having a tiny life resting quite literally in my hands hitting me full force shortly after we arrived home from hospital, and I have quietly doubted 92% of all of my parenting decisions ever since.
Is this the right way to wean? Probably not on reflection. How do I get this child to nap? How can I stop him sucking his fingers? Is this OK, should he be doing that, how do I stop him doing this? And on and on and on. It’s been a little better with Max, I am a little more prepared to trust my instincts and go with it but honestly, I think if you’d approached me in the first 12 months of Blake’s life and told me he needed exposure to elephants to round out his sensory development I’d have trotted off to Twycross Zoo. Even now, when talking about parenting decisions we have made for the boys I find myself verging on apologetic and often confused afterwards about whether the decision is, indeed, as right as i believed it to be 30 minutes before.
How can you not doubt yourself? No-one can prepare you for quite how crushing the responsibility of parenting is, no-one can make you see as you plough smugly through the Baby Whisperer, or Truly Happy Baby or *mutter* Gina Ford, that when push comes to shove and colic comes to your house, you will have no clue what you are doing. That parenting is all about finding your way in the dark and stumbling upon the things that will work for your family.
So how is it that some new Mums have such conviction? Such utter confidence in the decisions they make?
I go to a Bumps and Babies group once a week with Max, and I’ve chatted to a Mum there a few times. She is utterly confident in the decisions she makes, and rightly so. Her baby is a beautiful, happy, content little thing. But really it is quite breathtaking this confidence. How is she so utterly assured? Yes, she tells me, baby likes this and she has done this and he has responded ever so well. Yes, she is going to give such and such a try at the weekend. Oh you’re doing that are you? I don’t think that will work for baby for these three entirely credible reasons.
HOW DO THESE MUMS DO IT? How do they believe so completely and confidently in themselves? It could be that behind the scenes they doubt themselves every bit as much as me but I am not sure that is the case. Some Mums just have this thing cracked.
If you are such a Mum, bravo! And if not, I’d like to quietly suggest that is probably alright too. I still have bugger all clue what I’m doing but Blake is 5, he is keeping his head above water at school, he communicates well, he eats a limited but fairly healthy range of food and he makes me frequently proud. And the baby is 7 months, smiles a lot and is having a good go at solids.
You can have all the conviction in the world (HOW DO YOU DO THIS?!) or very little (and I can assure you there is a Mum out there equally worried, equally unsure, equally adrift), but I would politely suggest that if you have your child’s best interests at heart and you teach them to be kind, little by little, conviction or no conviction, the rest falls into place.
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