Whether you’re a mother or not, I’m sure that you can relate to the statement above. However, there is no denying that elements of guilt intensify more so when you become a mother. Whether it’s how you choose to feed your baby, the type of nappy your baby wears, clothes your baby wears and even how you transport your baby. In fact, it’s fair to say that becoming a mother can lead you down a long road of feeling guilty, particularly when you share your choices with other people.
I’ve categorically made a decision to not be bound by guilt for the next 18+ years of my daughter’s life. Unabashedly, I will parent her in the way that I deem is necessary. I will do right for my family, whether that’s co-sleeping (which we do regularly), I will breastfeed and or express for as long as I want to (which I do proudly), I’ll continue to purchase disposable nappies (as the idea of rinsing poo is not for me), I’ll mix purees and do a bit of baby-led weaning (because that way I can ensure that my baby is actually being fed and not simply gnawing on a carrot stick to relieve her irritable gums) and I’ll speak Yoruba – (my heritage language) to her daily (as I believe that from birth to age three, language is acquired and naturally picked up rather than learnt).
When people ask me about her sleeping habits (not that it’s any of their business…lol) the conversation goes something along the line of this…
Mummy: So how many times does your daughter wake during the night?
Me: *clears throat* She doesn’t wake up during the night.
Mummy: What do you mean? Does she sleep straight through?
Me: Yes she does.
Mummy: When you mean straight through, like what time would she go to bed and what time does she wake up?
Me: I put her down between 9:30 – 10pm and she’ll wake up at 9am, sometimes later.
Mummy: WHAT!? HOW!? You’re so lucky. No wonder why you always look so fresh faced and chilled. How old was she when she started sleeping through the night?
Me: *sheepishly answers* Since the night she was born.
Mummy: (looking at me like I have TEN heads) WOW!!! Unicorn baby or what? How!!??You lucky cow, if only we could all have babies like that. Gosh, haven’t you got it good. I haven’t slept more than an hour since this one was born, I’m up constantly through the night its torture…..blah blah blah…
Gbogbo ọmọ lo yatọ – Every child is different
To gain the upper hand they might throw in a comment such as “I hope you don’t co-sleep as that’ll become a bad habit as she gets older.” In my head I’m thinking… “What bad habit am I creating”? I’m hardly going to co-sleep with her until she’s 8 years old, or 16 or 25!!! Am I creating a bad habit by not teaching her to use a spoon at 6 months old? Will she eat with her hands for the rest of her life? No, she won’t (nobody is raising a scavenger out here #justsaying).
These things that people often say to try and make me feel guilty, only last for a short while. I literally let it go straight over my head – otherwise ma bẹrẹ wahala – I’ll start trouble. We mothers are constantly told that;
If he/she cries, leave them or else they’ll learn to cry to get what they want….WAIT….isn’t that what being a baby is all about? How else are they meant to communicate with us before learning to talk??? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I have things to do on a daily basis. Luckily for me, I’m 29, I have a mouth and a wide vocabulary at my disposal, along with a pair or arms and legs which helps me to do things for myself. Therefore, until my daughter learns how to say “Mummy, I want a cuddle. Can you please pick me up?” I’ll deal with the fussing and the odd cry how I choose.
Imagine having a crap day at work – horrendous – your colleagues have back-stabbed you, you made a major mistake on a team project that has cost the company thousands of pounds, on top of that your manager has called you in for a serious meeting to express concerns about your competency, and all you want to do is go home, call a friend, have a friend listen to you, give you a hug and eat a huge bar of chocolate and eat a tub of ice-cream with you. Then imagine someone says to your friend “Don’t bother listening to her right now, she’s just trying to get what she wants. If you take her for chocolate and ice-cream now, she’ll always depend on you to take her for ice-cream and chocolate whenever she’s having a bad day. Do you really want that to become a habit?
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR…THIS IS WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR!
This thought process wouldn’t work for us adults, so why would we apply a similar mentality towards a baby who can’t communicate in the way that we do?
So like I said before, the guilt has been thrown out of the window. Unless you are the mother of my child, then nobody else’s opinion matters in the way that I choose to do things. Any ‘habits’ that I do or don’t create will be my consequences to bear.
Quite frankly, I’m fine that my daughter will love me and need me and want me to help her. I’m fine with my daughter knowing that she can come to me and say:
“Mum, I’ve had a bad day, can I snuggle up with you?”
“Mum, the dark scares me, can you hold my hand?”
“Mum, I just miss you, can I have a hug?
“Mum, I’m in pain, can you make me feel better please?”
Because right now, these are probably some of the things she’d like to say, but she doesn’t have the words just yet.
Please do feel free to comment below. I’d be interested to hear from those of you who have heard all or some of the above since becoming a parent.