Pre-baby, I had some very strange ideas about the kind of parent I would be. I say ‘strange’ because they were clearly not based on any kind of reality or experience and I honestly have no idea really where they came from, Here are the top 5 things that have had me eating my words since becoming a mama.
1.Use a dummy
I’ll admit it, I had a real snobbery about dummies. To me they conjured up images of mums in Tesco trying to shut up their screaming offspring without any interest in why they are upset. So it came as a surprise to me that it took exactly 3 days of having our son home before I was out hunting for a little rubber friend. Because babies cry. A lot. And actually, even when you are trying your damnedest to work out what’s wrong sometimes you can’t. A dummy can soothe a baby and offer them some comfort. When you put it like that, how can it be such a bad thing?
2. Talk shit
Literally. Parents are like old people when it comes to their child’s bowel movements- normal social etiquette just goes out of the window. It starts at home: ‘look darling, this one looks like chicken korma’. It’s totally normal for my husband to be greeted on his return from work with tales of our son’s epic turds. But soon the sheer volume and force of the stuff flying out of your child’s bottom becomes so shocking, you need to discuss it with the outside world just to check that this is actually normal and they’re not some freak of nature. The trick here is to restrict this chat to other parents. You’re far more likely to get the response you want when you describe your joy at your child finally pooping after 10 whole days when talking to someone whose been through it too.
3. The sling meal
I remember once many years ago seeing a lady eating her lunch in a cafe whilst wearing her baby in a sling and thinking ‘why on earth would anyone do that?’. Surely just put them down while you eat? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because it just might get you a meal, eaten in peace, with both hands. Utter luxury. And the ‘just put them down’ bit? Pah! Oh how clueless was I…..
4. Use my phone whilst feeding my baby
Be it breast or bottle, I had a romantic image of my baby gazing adoringly into my eyes as I fed them (no doubt influenced by TV ads). But for the first few months my son had his eyes closed during most feeds, and fed for 90% of his waking day. Alongside the overwhelming love, I felt tired and bored. Reading blog posts and articles written by other mothers going through the same thing kept me sane. That, and ordering every gadget going off amazon. God bless the smart phone!
5. Breastfeed beyond 6 months
I don’t know why I thought I would suddenly stop feeding at 6 months. Partly it was my lack of awareness about how important milk continues to be after this age, and partly I was completely unprepared for how hard it could be to stop- both from a practical and emotional point of view. My son is currently 8 months old, and I have no idea when I’ll stop feeding but no longer feel the need to put a deadline on it. Although he currently still has no teeth.
So there you have it. What a fool I was!