When I was pregnant with Theo, I honestly thought I was going to turn into a modern day Mary Poppins. Every task was going to become a game, every trip to the shops an adventure and every new experience a fantastic learning opportunity.
I was going to be Supermum! I was going to do EVERYTHING by the book. I was going to exclusively breastfeed for at least a year, probably longer, and he was going to sleep in our room for the recommended six months. I was going to take him to every musical and sensory class going. He was going to become a child prodigy by the age of one. And I was going to wean him with the healthiest organic fruit and veg; he was going to dine like a king.
In reality I spent months beating myself up because I was no where near to achieving what I perceived to be Supermum status. I only managed to breastfeed for a couple of months. I really wish I could have done it for longer but it just wasn’t to be. I had a chart stuck to the fridge giving to me in a pack by a midwife when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy. It had breastfeeding milestones such as ‘if you exclusively breastfeed for four months your child will be less likely to develop asthma’. In my personal opinion, this list should be burned and wiped from existence. Even if these facts are true, this is the last thing you need to read when you are a sleep deprived, stressed out mum struggling to provide enough milk for her son. I wept for days when I stopped, knowing that if he developed some terrible condition it would be all my fault.
As for the sleeping situation, we managed an impressive five months with him in our room. We moved the wardrobe out and the cot bed in. We then spent a hellish five months (or 143 days, yes I counted) waking each other up every. single. night. Every grunt from Theo caused my blood shot eyes to ping open wildly. And Theo woke up screaming every time Zac or I so much as trumped in our sleep.
I spent £45 a week going to various classes. Try taking a six month old to an art class. In my opinion, it’s pretty shit. I spent the whole hour attempting to stop him eating the paint, and in return he screamed in my face and burst into tears.
I also spent about 4,000 hours making EVERY RECIPE from the Annabel Karmel weaning book. Over half the freezer (I wish I was exaggerating) was filled with pots of healthy nutrient rich food. He ate NONE OF IT. That’s 4,000 fucking hours I will never get back. On my death bed I know I will look back and wish I could have perhaps developed a new skill with that time, like playing the violin or learning to crochet or something.
We soon stopped all our ridiculous groups. Instead we started going to toddler groups. I currently spend £3 a week going to these. You might even get a free cuppa and a biscuit thrown in if you’re lucky. But do you know what? He bloody loves it. He’d much rather be running around pulling tampons out of other mum’s handbags, and getting his chops around a germ infested fire truck, than be told to sit still wondering why the hell he’s being forced to stick cotton wool to a bit of card.
With the arrival of Daisy, I approached everything with a totally different view. I wasn’t going to be guilt tripped into doing something I wasn’t happy with. I’m a firm believer in ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’ (you’re welcome, Giovanna). I breastfed Daisy for two weeks, then switched to formula after struggling to feed her thanks to a nasty case of oral thrush (by no means an easy choice but I now have no regrets). She went into her own room at three months (I tried to convince Zac we should do it at four weeks, but he wasn’t happy with that so we compromised… I know the real reason was that he liked having the spare bed all to himself. Knob). She fits in around Theo’s toddler groups, and she has yet to lay eyes on a paintbrush. I’ve made up a few purees (half a freezer drawer full), and yesterday I purchased some jars although I’m debating taking the baby led route.
My two babies couldn’t have been more different. Theo obviously sensed my unease and stress and became somewhat of an arsehole. He cried a lot and never ever slept. Daisy has been a dream (thank fuck), which probably has a bit to do with the fact I’ve been a different mum to her than I was to Theo.
I only started to find real happiness in being a mum once I was able to let go of this obsession of embodying a Mary Poppins/Supermum hybrid. Mainly because I’m an actual human with very real emotions. I end up shouting at least once a day. Theo mainly lives off a diet of chips and nuggets. But after you catch your child eating his own shit, anything’s an improvement. All in all, they actually seem happy which in itself makes me feel pretty awesome. If I could go back in time I would tell myself to forget what everyone else thinks, forget Dr Google and do what feels right for you. I wouldn’t have listened of course. This was something I needed to learn with time.
Rather than focusing on being perfect, I’m perfectly content with being good enough, thank you very much. I want my children to see that it’s ok to have shit days, and it’s ok to not be amazing at everything you do. Im not a perfect mum, but in all honesty I don’t want to be. I’m happy to call myself a ‘good-enough’ mum, as long as that’s enough for my kids then that’s more than enough for me.