We dance around the reality. We reveal a little. We try to subdue. We stay positive. We push through no matter how we feel.
I’ve noticed something …. we’re all a little self conscious about our parenting. That amongst strangers, amongst other mamas, even amongst our closest friends we feel a embarrassed or try to hide the things we do or the way our little ones act. I’m not talking about anything terrible, in fact I’m talking about completely rational choices or our children's age appropriate behaviour that we have somehow convinced ourselves we should be embarrassed or shy about. Stopping breastfeeding, not being toilet trained, taking the entire cot when you go away so your baby sleeps while you're on holiday, your toddler having a tantrum at an event, your child not sharing, having a glass of wine while breastfeeding, not giving your kid an ‘adequate' meal, bribing your child with food to get them to do what you need them to, the house being an absolute mess, getting a nanny, cleaner or starting daycare, going back to work or choosing not to, letting your child watch cartoons, feeding them processed foods, taking a day, night, weekend, week away ….. normal, normal, normal. And I know, and likely you do too, that if a friend came to me and said they were doing any of the above or their child was acting in that way, and more, you would 100% support her, tell her it’s normal (it is) and that baby will be fine (they will) yet in ourselves we feel doubt and guilt.
We really can be our own worst critic sometimes. Maybe it’s the idealistic view of what we thought parenting would look like and the kind of parent we thought we would be in comparison to the reality or maybe it’s just the chaos and uncertainty we find ourselves in. BUT mama, I’m here to tell you we are all in the same boat there’s no shame in doing what you need to do to get through. The mere fact that you feel guilt shows you care. So often we're confronted with decisions and uncertain what to do, most of the time it's a case of following our intuition and doing what feels right cause that's all we can do. And mamas it’s ok to share the not so perfect side, cause that makes us all feel a little more normal. Us laughing about the things we do and predicaments we find ourselves in, us finding solidarity in each other, is a much better outcome than us all trying to pretend we’ve got it all together.
This is me…. Hey, I have two babies a two and half year old and a six month old. I tandem breastfeed them, they both prefer one side so I’ve been pretty lopsided in the titty department for almost three years, we co-sleep with our youngest in fact every night since he was born he has slept in the same bed, almost the same spot, as he was born, last month my toddler had such a big tantrum at a party that I had to walk down the road and sit on the footpath with him for five minutes until he calmed down enough so I could talk to him, actually he regularly has tantrums, I try to do gentle parenting but not always cause sometimes I’m just too tired, my oldest refuses dinner food so mostly he just has toast or cereal for dinner, we’ve used the cry it out method to get my toddler to sleep at night, my kids are vaccinated, my oldest watches cartoons and eats processed foods and although I've tried is no where near being toilet trained, my six month old does not sleep through, my body has definitely not 'bounced back' and I enjoy a hearty glass of red on the reg….and so much more.
Depending on who I’m around I feel self conscious about my choices, my family is more hard line parenting, my friends lean towards gentle parenting and instagram makes me think my house should always be clean and I should be out adventuring and enjoying it with two kids. The reality is the only people that your choices should matter to are you, your partner and your babe(ies). That sometimes staying in is a lot more enjoyable that going out. That it really doesn't matter if your house is clean to tidy to almost anyone other than yourself. This isn’t what I thought my parenting journey would look like, but life never really is what we think it's going to be and unless we let go of our expectations it can be hard to enjoy these beautiful chaotic years.
This time is going to go so, so quickly mama, before we know it these little chubby cherubs will be off to school, then college, then who knows .. they’ll slowly start to need us less, they’ll stop talking to us about every little thing, they’ll create their own worlds outside of our home, we’ll miss them dearly. So enjoy this time, let go of any expectations and follow the route that feels right to you and brings peace and joy to your family...and on the days you can’t quite find the joy because you're too exhausted or it’s just struggle street, go easy on yourself and pour a wine (or two), laugh at the chaos and let the mess accumulate.
It’s impossible to enjoy every moment, but maybe if we can stop trying to pretend it’s easy and stop thinking there is a 'right' way (there really isn't) if we can openly laugh about the craziness of parenting, the many ups and downs then I believe it’ll make it all a little easier.