First off, you don’t need to justify anything to me. I don’t know what I’m doing either, pal.
There are books upon books written about parenting, so much so that if a first-time mum went searching for a bit of solace and support, she can end up feeling rather panicked at all of the conflicting advice and information. At the end of the day, pick the books that appeal to you, don’t try to read everything – it pretty much all goes out the window when the baby actually arrives anyway, and trust yourself.
I’m so sick of other mums feeling like they need to justify their actions. I often hear fellow mums saying “I know I shouldn’t but…” you know what? Stop. If it feels right to you in that moment, own it. Don’t apologize.
Recently a couple of mum friends told me they had brought their little ones into the bed with them, but then hurriedly continued to justify why they made that decision. “She was feeling poorly after her jabs,” “He wouldn’t settle unless I cuddled him,” “I was feeding her and we both fell asleep afterwards.” It’s only after I told them I bed-share that they visibly relaxed and often admitted it wasn’t their first time. I then decided to write a post on it, to encourage those who are bed-sharing in secret, that they are not alone. But even so, I am not going to judge you, but even if I did why does it matter?
For the mothers, judgements start before the baby has even arrived from how you behave during pregnancy; what you eat, drink, how much you exercise, what you wear. The big one; how you decide to give birth, where to give birth, are you having a planned c-section? Why is that considered the easier option when it’s a literal surgery, recovery is at least 6 weeks and with a complete restriction on driving? And then when the baby arrives. Whether it be why you decide to formula feed over breastfeeding, how long you decide to breastfeed for, or opting to combi-feed, giving your child a pacifier, choosing to use cloth nappies over disposable ones, raising your child with a religion, baby wearing and attachment parenting, when to start weaning your child and then how to wean – baby led weaning or puréeing everything?
And that is just the tip of the iceberg. My head hurts just coming up with this list.
There is no guide to this parenting lark, there is no perfect method, every parent (I would hope) is doing what they feel is the best way to raise their child, but if you meet someone who does not tick the same boxes as you that’s ok, accept that, you don’t necessarily need to be friends if you disagree with their parenting methods but do not put that parent in a position where they feel judged and belittled for their decisions.
Being a parent is so goddamn hard, nobody will ever prepare you for such a role. There are so many of us in the world with varied thoughts and opinions it’s only reasonable to think our approach to parenting will differ too. I’d like to believe we’re all in the same boat manoeuvring our way through parenthood, it’s a complete learning curve and I doubt I’ll always get it right. There is enough judgement out there, let’s try to be respectful towards one another, and keep a little less criticism in the world. Own your parenting decisions and if you do come across that tosser who feels the need to tell you you’re doing it all wrong, (and I don’t mean the inquisitive ones who might genuinely come to understand your approach) don’t bother giving them the energy to explain yourself, just walk away.