I have been a mom for a whole 5 minutes, and already I have a whole new respect for all parent types in all the lands. Not only for the magical ability to create and grow a baby, or even the shear superhuman powers it takes to bring that baby into the world, but most notably the amount of confusion and confliction you are faced with when it comes to nurturing and caring for that little human as they grow.
I thought comparison syndrome was a challenge in my pre-baby days, the way social media can grab a hold of you and within a 10 minute scrolling session make you believe that you aren’t in the right country, city, job, relationship(s), house, car, or even clothes. But bring the parenting element into the mix and it adds a whole new level of complexity. ( You can read about my social media break up here.)
My husband and I started to experience this when we first announced we were expecting, all of a sudden this incredible gift turned into an open invitation for strangers and loved ones alike to share their thoughts, opinions and assumed expertise on what parenthood was meant to be, look and feel like. The confusion set in when we heard such conflicting views, opinions and advice from that welcome and unwelcome collective. Is a midwife a safe option or should I opt for a OB? Can I enjoy sushi here in there, or is that considered reckless? Can I continue to work out or should I be tended to with my feet up? Can I lift a box, a bag or even a laundry bin? Can I colour my hair, go out in the sun, or enjoy a seasonal game of beach volleyball? Should I sleep on my back, side, standing up? Okay that one is an exaggeration but, come on- let the pregnant woman SLEEP! We heard about pain management during birth, warnings about our birthing choices, quips about our preparedness, and concerns about the safety of our soon to be real babe on account of our fur-babes. We heard it all, and instead of helping us feel supported, knowledgeable and informed it made us feel overwhelmed and ill-prepared. But that was just the beginning…
In comes the sweetest little boy we could possibly imagine. Now, as new parents operating off the sweet smell of baby and short teasers of ‘sleep”, and the occasional meal provided by loved ones, we were even more vulnerable to the influence of others (read: sleep deprived, desperate for the right answer and easily brainwashed). With each new hurdle we faced, whether it be sleeping, feeding, changing or socializing we did what most new parents will do in 2018 and took to our online sources, and parent types that have come before us. What we found was MORE conflicting advice. I could read one article that had me convinced that co-sleeping was the absolute only responsible thing to do if we wanted our child to grow up well adjusted with a properly developed brain, then the next article we read would convince us otherwise. When it came to socializing, we read we should be hibernating for the first three months to foster an attachment as parents for this little one, and the next article would advise we get out, show him the world- fresh air would do us all good. Bottle feeding breastmilk will lead to nipple confusion, introducing a nipple early will help avoid nipple refusal. Soothers are a saving grace, soothers are a dependency and dental disaster. Never hold a sleeping baby, hold your baby as much as possible to foster a connection. Always swaddle the baby, never swaddle a baby- sleep sacks are the only way. Keep babies and dogs separate, foster a connection early between baby and dogs. Don’t let them cry it out, let them cry it out. You can’t sleep train, you can ABSOLUTELY sleep train (for no less than $1000 in 3 easy payments)…. And the list goes on.
Parenting is already hard on account of the disrupted sleep, new found worries and concerns, your overwhelming LOVE for this little being, and the fact that all of this is just added to what felt like a full plate before the baby came around.
So just three and a half months into this mamahood, I am saying YOU DO YOU, MAMA!
People have been doing this whole parenting thing for centuries, many of those people before the age of written books by self proclaimed experts, before ‘supportive’ mom groups, before we had a glimpse into how every other mom and parent ‘does it’ on social media, and before there was even a right way or a wrong way. This is not to say all these new-age resources don’t have their time and their place, but it is to say that what hasn’t yet expired in this whole evolution is our own maternal and paternal instincts.
I can only imagine I will continue to hone my mama instinct, and that my husband will hone his own, but I can already tell it will be our greatest resource. Sure we still send out a desperate text here or there asking for suggestions, I may attend a Mommy + Me class (when I work out my introverted social anxiety), and I still follow the occasional ‘expert’ on social media… but what I won’t do is question my ability to do what is right for this magical little being we brought into the world, and you shouldn’t either.
You are doing a freaking great job, keep on keeping on!