Do you ever have days when you look at your beautiful child and your heart swells so much it could burst and then you think to yourself “Oh shit, I really have absolutely no idea what the feck I am doing?”
Oh good, so it is not just me then!
If you answered no, then please do still stick around as I may well need your advice later.
I have no idea if the way I am parenting my son is the right way or the wrong way.
If he had only come with a manual at birth and a 10-point plan clearly set out, then I’d follow it exactly to the letter and know for sure that all my parenting decisions were the right ones.
Then, I would know for sure that I am being a good mum.
Because as much I loathe to say it out loud, I doubt myself sometimes. I am making all these decisions for this tiny little person and I have absolutely no idea how they might end up affecting his life.
How can I really be sure that he has not suffered any trauma over being born by emergency c-section.
Or, if he will be open to all sorts of illnesses and infections because I was not able to breastfeed him.
When will I know if giving my baby a dummy at 3-weeks old has affected the way his teeth are growing (note to self to book a dentist appointment).
The guilt over not having taken him to the dentist.
And, for using disposable nappies.
The all-consuming guilt of returning to work when he was just one and leaving him with a nanny. What if he feels that I abandoned him?
More guilt over letting him watch TV in the morning while I get dressed for work. I once proudly told another mum about my method for getting out of the house tantrum free and on time, and she was absolutely HORRIFIED.
I mean it is not like I am plonking him there in front of the TV all day – he sits on my bed and watches Peppa Pig so I can put my knickers on without a toddler running between my legs squealing ‘Can’t catch me, Mummy’.
Lots of guilt again over not doing enough craft activities – we do a bit of painting, a bit of drawing, a bit of playdoh and that is all (note to self to start subscribing to craft blogs).
I console myself over this one by remembering that he is in nursery all day doing crafty stuff.
Oh god, he’s in nursery ALL DAY.
Guilt that weekday mornings are spent getting him dressed and out of the house, and weekday evenings are spent getting him undressed and into bed.
Guilt over cramming too much into weekends to compensate for not having much family time during the week.
Guilt guilt guilt guilt guilt.
I mean, I could just go on and on and on.
I do not know what makes someone a great mum. I do not understand what makes one person a better parent than another. I have no idea why one parent’s decision to follow a particular method or approach makes another way wrong.
I have no idea who we are even measuring ourselves up against – is it each other? Our mothers? Gwyneth Paltrow?
Being a parent means making choices every day – some may be well thought out and others just made up on the spot. But surely they all come from a loving place? I do not know anyone who would intentionally make a decision for their child that they knew for certain would be harmful to them, or to their development.
The confusion is in the sheer amount of conflicting advice and opinion out there.
It can’t all be right but it can’t all be wrong either.
I think you just have to pick the one that works best for you and your family and ignore the rest.
Maybe the fact that we are so invested in our children’s well-being, is just as important as the individual details anyway.
Just one look at your child should be enough to tell you if you are doing a great job or not – if they are smiling, happy, loving, well fed, clean and contented little souls, then what more validation do we really need?
I read somewhere “You’re only a terrible mother if you NEVER think you are one.”
I think there might be something to be said for that.
Do you think you are a great mum? What do you think is the secret to guilt-free parenting?