Life Lessons Parenting

Keeping it Real: Motherhood Confessions Part One

the art of joy parenting renee bell

Behind the ‘Highlight Reel’ of every photogenic Mother lies the realities of parenting, and this is why you should never, ever, judge another parent. There is a saying that I have playing on repeat in my head .. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” It may appear that your favourite blogger has it all figured out, or that your happy, ‘always smiling’ colleague at the office is running a picture perfect ship at home. Never assume.

BM (Before Motherhood) I made a lot of promises to myself around how I would be as a Mother, many of them have been long forgotten. There were certain things that I swore I would never do when I became a Mother, things that I could not possibly see myself doing. HA! All the good and pure intentions in the world cannot prepare you for the crazy, beautiful reality of parenting.

I swore that I would never:

Formula feed: the pressure to breastfeed and hide any evidence of the contrary is relentless! It was not long after some of my worst panic attacks reared their ugly and unwelcome heads in the first weeks post birth that I looked at things differently. The most important thing is your mental wellbeing, topping up your baby’s feeding needs so that you can get some more sleep or take care of yourself if perfectly OK.

Leave my Mother’s group: it was simply not for me, I tried it and I felt uncomfortable, so I didn’t go back. I know that this is not the case for many many Mothers and that is wonderful. If you are not feeling it, then be real and honest and step away.

Buy plastic mass produced toys: my intentions were good, and they still are most of the time. However, it is not always possible to buy local, handmade, bespoke toys, crafts, homewares and other items. Cost is a serious issue here, and I have done so much research (aka online shopping) and come to the conclusion that my mix of handmade and mass produced sits OK with my values. It is possible to be mindful and mass produced, keep an eye on how the large retailers are responding to their social and ethical obligations in the market.

Let my child watch too much TV: well, many years of single parenting took this one out of my hands! It is just not possible to make it through some mornings, and most evenings, without relying on the TV. I believe that limits are absolutely needed, as is filtering of content! There is a lot of great viewing and choice these days though thankfully!

Feed my child anything processed: again, I have found that a mix of mostly fresh and the occasional short cut is not doing any harm. Knowing that the supermarket shelves are filled with packaged rubbish and always checking that the sugar, additives, chemicals and salt levels are low is important!

Fall behind in my memory keeping: I have a couple of boxes filled with memories, photos, notes, birthday cards and other reminders of his early years, ready for my little man when he is a little older. It is not perfect, and it never will be, that is OK though. It is a collection of beautiful, real things and he is going to adore them even if they are not perfectly compiled.

Spend a whole weekend doing nothing: did you always dream about the activities, the outings and the experiences you would lovingly and regularly prepare as a Mother? The reality is that some weekends you just want to lie around, maybe in your pyjamas all day. I have found that these weekends hold the most precious moments, the tiny little intimate times that will become the big influences in our future reflections.

Allow a game console into my house: well it turns out that my little man is a bit of a whizz with the games! He is only given a few hours every second weekend to indulge in the Playstation and he just thrives solving problems in games such as the Lego Avengers! All G rated and harmless at this stage thank goodness!

So in the interests of keeping it real, is there anything that you swore you would never do as a parent? Lets all share more and judge less!


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  • The blog comments that deserve their own post: Part One – the art of joy

    […] Kate Maguire recently left aΒ comment on this post that deserves to be shared in […]

  • Kate Maguire

    As I sat on the porch one day with a mother friend of mine, toddlers milling at our feet, she noticed a smudge on my face. Without thinking, she dampened the edge of a napkin with her spittle and deftly wiped the smudge off my (startled) face… It took a moment for her to realise that she had just done the VERY thing that she had always sworn she would NEVER do to her children – not to mention another adult!

    When we enter parenthood, we perhaps expect that we shall be transformed in multitudinous magnificent ways; as we embrace this significant Rite of Passage.

    What we don’t expect, is that we may potentially transform to resemble the type of parent we once judged, or were certain that we would never become…

    If I had ever taken time to write a list of all the things I would NEVER do as a parent – then giving birth without full anaesthesia or ideally a voluntary Caesarian was top of my list.

    Instead I gave birth on my living room floor without a painkiller in sight. (A choice I had previously opposed as negligent risk-taking).

    Next on my list of “Never-Evers” was the prospect of long term breastfeeding. As a young woman I was a little revolted by the idea of mothers who who breastfed babies who had teeth…yet my own daughter continued having occasional breastfeeds until she was two years old.

    “Bed-sharing” was another concept that I considered totally bizarre before I had a child ~ yet as a parent I soon found this was the most comfortable way to night-feed my breast-fed infant. As the parent of a child who often suffered great difficulty in falling asleep and suffered nightmares, the comfort of my bed guaranteed a restful night of sleep for all.

    So once again I found myself doing something as a parent that I once considered to be a symptom of questionable judgment!

    And then there were the glorious career aspirations I held BEFORE I had a child… I firmly planned to be back at work six months after baby arrived. In my ideal vision, I was committed to having a meaningful and upwardly mobile, full time corporate work-life AND a baby. I was very afraid of loosing my place in the corporate arena.

    To my compete surprise, I relished being a full time mother until my daughter was almost four. When I resumed my work life – I discovered a completely new and rewarding career direction within the not-for-profit sector that I could never have envisaged prior to becoming a mother.

    In my twenty years of parenting I have learnt that our children certainly teach us to change, respond and grow in a myriad of ways that we could never have forecast.

    I am proud that as a parent I have found myself willing to embrace SO many things that I would never have expected myself to do…and I accept that along the way I have sometimes resembled the sort of parent I once judged.

    When I find myself expressing love and wrapped in a warm loving hug with my daughter, or listening to her confide in me, or sharing significant experiences with her – I KNOW that that I have become exactly the sort of parent I always most aspired to become.

    • admin

      Kate I am speechless, the beauty of your words deserves its own blog post!! xx
      Thank you!

  • Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid

    I love it! This really is keeping it real. Parenting has to be the most demanding but worthwhile job one will ever do, so I think the only rules parents should follow are the ones that work for them and their family. As for the memory keeping, with all your beautiful photography, I can’t believe you’ve ever gotten behind in that department. When your boy grows up, oh, the treasures he will find!

    • admin

      You are right Sammie, I am not too hard on myself sometimes, he will indeed have a lifetime of visual memories through our photos to accompany him through life xx

  • Anastasia

    I totally agree with so many points here Lisa. I swore I would never co-sleep, but our little one made his way into our bed at around 7 months and stayed there, as it was the only way I could get some sleep, and I was really run down and plain exhausted. I thought if we followed all the good sleep rules and routines he would sleep through the night in no time. We followed those ‘rules’ religiously from birth, but here we are, at 15 months, with no longer than 4 hour sleep intervals during the night, and the baby in our bed, and I don’t mind it – it seems that our baby’s feisty personality has something to do with it. My husband works long hours so it’s just me and the little one during the week, and I use many of those shortcuts you listed, such as letting him watch The Wiggles for half an hour while I attemp to cook dinner in peace, without constantly peeling off the screaming toddler off my legs. And as for the plastic toys – it would cost a total fortune to buy everything in wood, or handmade, etc. His favourite toys are made of plastic, and he doesn’t care much for the wooden ones I bought from the eco toy shops online, as he is very much into buttons, sounds, music, and bright colours. What I do feel is the gratitude that we live during the times when formula is available everywhere, the nappies don’t have to be washed by hand, that I have a dishwasher, that there is prepackaged baby food (organic!) that I can keep in my nappy bag, etc, etc. And even with all these shortcuts I am exhausted every day. How did my mother do it?

    • admin

      Yep, I am with you on the exhaustion Anastasia!
      I think we just slowly adjust to it, and even with less judgement, some of the best short cuts and lots of self care, parenting will always be exhausting, yet also extraordinarily beautiful xx

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