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!