Today I was eaten alive by the plants in our garden after I finally decided to tackle the forest it had become and do a spot of weeding. My arms and legs are covered in incredible scratches and tiny blood spots where plants latched on and tried to tell me to F@#k Off. I didn’t Eff Off. Nature is incredible. I want some of that incredible. It is most definitely on my parenting wishlist.
So, I’m sitting here with swollen and itchy arms that look like I’ve been ravaged by a wild cat. My legs have three inch long scratches which started off as thin, white, innocent lines on first contact. They’re now long, inflamed, red grooves, standing out like the plants signature reminding me not to come near them again.
Number one on my Parenting Wishlist is:
The Defence Mechanisms of Nature
I’ve discovered over the years that parents take a bit of flack and suffer a lot of judgement from others on things that simply are no one else’s business.
It is no one else’s business but yours:
If you decide to bottle or breastfeed
If you give your child a soother
If you allow more than the recommended “screen time”
If your son wears pink or your daughter plays with trucks
If you work outside the home or if you’re a stay at home parent
No one has the right to judge you as a parent if you’re child is healthy and happy. No one should be allowed to think that they have a right to “tell you” what you should or shouldn’t be doing.
When A was born I suffered from a severe lack of confidence as a first time mother. I knew what I was doing was right and good for my daughter but I found it difficult to reassure people of that and to tell them No when I wasn’t happy with their attempts to hold or feed my child. I allowed others to speak out on my parenting. I struggled to stand up for myself and say “Hey its alright, I have this. I know what I’m doing. I know what’s right for my daughter.”
There are times when you just want to be able to tell someone to Eff Off.
If only I was able to prod and spike like nature when I felt an attack from outside forces. If only there was some way of getting over those coy first time parent feelings and unleashing the inner defender!
It took a good year of A’s life for me to feel confident as a mother. The sturdier A got on her little legs, the louder her voice became as she started asking for what only she knew she wanted, the hardier and robust I felt. She gave me the confidence I was lacking.
Have you felt this way? Like you held yourself back from voicing your opinion? Afraid to tell someone “no, I’ll do it my way”?
It took a lot of mental energy to get myself out of that feeling of inadequacy. And in truth, those feelings were my own. No one made me feel like that.
There were three things I did that helped. I simply had to:
Anytime someone voiced their opinion on my parenting or something that I should or shouldn’t be doing with A I questioned my parenting. Instantly, it was a case of “they said I should do…, so I should do as they say” and not a case of “well, what we do works for our daughter.” Slowly but surely, I learnt to Trust Myself as A became more mobile and I realised that what I had been doing actually worked and I’d look at her and think she’s awesome and so happy and healthy, so I must be doing something right.
Remember, You are Mum
With so many people trying to help it can be easy to feel in adequate. With so much advice flying around you wonder “shit, am I doing this right?” When so and so did this and so and so did that, you begin to properly listen to those voices and start making plans and schedules that suit other people and other people’s children. But this is your child. And only you and your partner know your child inside and out. Only you know what they do and don’t like, what does and doesn’t work. You’re their parent, everyone else … simply isn’t.
Tell them to F**K Off
There are days when enough is enough and you just need a break from the world that seems to encroach on your life. Parenting is hard enough without others making judgements or landing their opinions on you. We can’t scratch their arms or sting their legs but we can tell them … politely… “thank you for your advice but honestly we have this, we know what we’re doing”
Did you have the same feelings of inadequacy or self doubt when others took over and offered their unsolicited advice?
How did you get through the first year of parenthood and trust in yourself that you were doing a good job?