Hello Mothers, hello fathers, hello friends of mothers and fathers, hello people who choose to read blogs that have no direct relevance to their lives. Welcome one and all! And a special welcome to any of you who are reading this on a dim screen while feeding their baby in the wee small hours of the night.
I am the mother of an 8-month old boy and he is the best thing ever in my life (honest). However, this parenting lark is also the hardest thing ever, in the world, ever. Brain surgeons have nothing on us guys! So I’ve decided to write a bit about it and hope that my thoughts – sometimes heartfelt, sometimes tongue in cheek – might resonate with one or two of you out there.
This is not a guide to how to look after your baby. You do not need a guide about how to look after your baby. Are you feeding your baby? Are you clothing your baby? Do you change their dirty nappies? Do you cuddle them sometimes? Do you talk to them? If the answer to all these questions is yes then, honestly, you’re doing fine.
You will naturally want tips and guidance if it is your first baby but really, honestly, I promise you know a lot more than you think you do. In fact if you are worried at all about how to look after your baby this is quite a good indicator that you’re looking after them just fine. Honest, a midwife told me so.
The thing is, if you’re anything like me, in the first few weeks and months of parenthood you will read about babies, think about your baby, care for your baby, generally eat, drink, (occasionally) sleep and breathe parenthood. This is very natural and appropriate but you may in that time forget yourself completely.So, this is a little offering from me to you to try and help you feel okay some of the time. You will not feel okay all of the time; you’ll be tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes you will feel utterly broken. That’s okay. And yes, some of the time you will probably be very very happy. But this may be less of the time than you were expecting. That’s okay too.
If you try to do everything perfectly, to get everything right, it will not go well for you. Because there is no right with this stuff. There are 1000 rights and most of them contradict each other. So doing anything more than excepting you’ll just muddle through and find your own parenting style could very well drive you mad. Trust me, I went mad. Like, hospital mad. I’ll write an ‘about’ page with a bit of biog about that soon.
So, just to recap, this is not a research-based guide to parenting. I have no qualifications and not very much experience to be honest. But I do have the benefit of hindsight. When my beautiful boy was 10 weeks old I went into a mother and baby unit for women with mental health issues. I have a history of depression and anxiety but had pretty much ignored myself in those first months and put my low mood down to tiredness. There are a lot of things I can see now that would have helped me not get to this stage, mostly just the confidence to know that I was doing well and that I didn’t have to listen to every bit of baby-care advice I was given. There is a lot of unhelpful crap out there for new parents. I hope this can be a tiny speck of helpfulness to a few of you.