In one way or another, most mums feel guilty at some point in time about their parenting. The things you said you wouldn’t do…and (if you’re like me) judged other people for doing suddenly seem like a fair trade off in an effort to get through your daily tasks and keep everyone happy (and alive) by dinnertime.
Before my girls came along I had some strange (and naive) ideas about this parenting caper. When I saw a toddler having a tantrum at the shops, I’d scoff and think “geez keep him/her under control…it’s not that hard”. I said my children will never have dummies (they need to be able to express themselves, you see) and TV would be a nice treat when they are 4 or so.
Reality Check Please!
So…now my girls are here I can honestly say everything I just wrote is a complete fail. Dummies are my best friend (and they are like dust – everywhere – car, bag, cots, fridge and some mysterious places we are yet to discover) and I can recite the lines to the whole Wiggles “Surfer Jeff” DVD.
Most importantly now I know EXACTLY where the mum at the shops was at. And, upon reflection I wished I was more helpful to her sometimes. That knowing look that other mums (especially the older ones, thanks Nanas) give you at the shops is as calming as a nice cuppa and a lie down. Now I wish I had perfected it earlier…but anyway I’ve got it now and flash it around when necessary.
I’d like to add that I’m not saying this in a negative, “poor me” way – we all know having our babies is a wonderful thing. It’s just not all sunshine and lollipops (sugar free, naturally) every day. And thus we must all do what we have to in order to carry on!
I know that many mums (especially first time ones…by the second one you don’t seem to be so concerned about what people think about you) feel guilt or shame for some of the parenting – let’s say – “methods” they employ. So, I thought why not post on it and see what some other mums I love to follow have to say.
“I always said that no child of mine would ever sleep in my bed! And initially I stuck to this, patiently transferring my son back to his bed each time he came for a visit. But pretty soon I came to realise I liked that warm little body snuggled up next to me. And I love the closeness of having him there, and the ‘knowing’ that he is safe and breathing because I can hear him whenever I stir. I also love the slow coming awake and the big hug and cuddle he gives me to say ‘good morning mummy.’ It’s really precious and I know at some point in time these nightly visits will be no more. Hopefully his sister will fill that void. But hopefully she doesn’t try to fill it too soon, the bed can only fit so many people in it!”
“I think mine was get her a puppy and now that puppy and I are inseparable!”
“Just one thing?! I could probably list just one thing I have actually stuck to! I went into motherhood with a swag of things I thought I wouldn’t do or let my kids do. Have a dummy, sleep in my bed, spoil them…but I think the biggest would have to be “give in to tantrums”. Yep, I’ve been that mum in the shops, kid screaming hysterically, totally frazzled, wishing I was anywhere but there and I’ve shoved lollipop in their mouth just to make them stop. Yep, it happens. My revisited parenting philosophy is that sometimes you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do to get through it. If it gets you through the moment without losing the plot entirely, or gets you a little extra sleep, or means your baby will settle long enough to catch their breath again and regulate themselves…then sometimes doing the things you vowed you’d never do isn’t such a bad thing.”
“The one thing I said I would never let my children do, which now happens more than I would like, is watch TV! It isn’t all cartoons though, my 2.5 year old daughter is obsessed with fish, and absolutely loves National Geographic documentaries on the ocean! Even if the voice over makes us rather sleepy, her giggles of delight when the fish come on TV, and how she is mesmerized for a good 20 minutes while it’s on, makes it a win-win. She learns about the ocean, and I get some work done!”
“I guess every mum has a list of stuff they’ll never let their kid do, and I think I must be strict and mean because I’ve stuck to most of them: my son didn’t watch even a minute of TV until he turned two, and it was even later than that when he first had chocolate (even though it’s my favorite food!).
The one big thing I thought I wouldn’t do is offer bribes. A lot. In fact, I think at least 50% of my interactions with my son (now aged 4) involve bribes (or, I’m a bit ashamed to say, threats!). I had no idea just how strong-willed a young child can be and of course, there are all these situations in life when you really, really need them to do something right now, and a bribe (someone told me to call them incentives) is the only way. In fact he’s in the next room with a juice box now so I can finish typing this to send off!”
In reality we all have something we said we wouldn’t do before becoming parents. And I’m sure we’ve all had a moment that wasn’t our “finest hour”. Try not to judge, as you don’t know what sort of day (or day-night-day) they have been having. Be kinder next time you see someone with a screaming toddler at the shop. At least give them “the look”.
So be honest – what did you say you wouldn’t do before becoming a parent?