3 weeks ago, our mother’s group organised to go to a ‘Bring your Baby’ movie session to see Bridget Jones’ Baby. As I’ve posted before, I was almost petrified about going. Why? Because little Starfish has a healthy set of lungs. I was anxious that he would scream the place down and I would be a burden to all the other patrons. I was stressed that he would cause a scene and others would feel uncomfortable.
And then I felt this tremendous guilt. Guilt that I was worried more about how other people would see my little boy, rather than worry about the cause of his crying. Guilt that I was ashamed of the volume of his voice. Guilt that I wasn’t being the best mum to Starfish that I should be.
Parenting is the single most stressful thing I have ever come across in my entire life. I am already a pretty anxious person, and parenting kind of adds insult to injury. For while there are many people out there who adore babies (I think that for most people, babies really bring out the best in them), there are the haters. The grumbles. The judges. Those who think they have the right opinion, usually when they don’t even have a child themselves. These opinions really feed into this sense of mum guilt that most mothers (and parents in generally) are usually feeling.
For example, breastfeeding. We’re all told it is the best source of nutrition for babies, it helps build the bond, etc. However what if you are unable to breastfeed for some reason? Low milk supply, baby is sick, mother is sick, mother has to go back to work. Formulas these days have been tried and tested over MANY years and the babies grow up happy and healthy. And then even if you DO breastfeed, you’re told not to do it in public because it offends people. Mums are made to feel guilty one way or another (and I am guilty of this too – there was a time around when Starfish was about 7-8 weeks old where I thought my supply was going down from being sick, and I thought I’d have to bottle feed and I felt guilty…. WHY?!)
Then there are other issues, like:
* Co-sleeping vs. babies sleeping in their own bassinet (vs. bassinet in YOUR room or THEIR room)
* Baby carrying vs. prams/strollers
* Cloth nappies vs. Disposable nappies (or a combination of both?)
* Cry it out sleeping method vs. self-settling vs. use every prop in the book to get them to sleep
It seems that no matter what choices parents make, there is an opposing opinion as to why that is the WRONG choice, and then sometimes these opinions might even be rubbed in your face. How awful! Especially for those mums and parents who might already be struggling with issues such as guilt or anxiety? Why can’t we just let parents get on with the job of parenting, as long as they aren’t endangering their kids?
My aim is to raise Starfish to become a happy, healthy boy who does his best to help others and contribute to society. For us, I think it might involve a combination of the above ‘contentious’ issues. Recently, ‘The Real Mumma’ coined the term ‘Open Parenting’ to describe this type of parenting style, and I love it. Instead of judging each other, let’s try loving and encouraging each other to be the best mums we can, within our own styles, so our children grow up to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted individuals.