Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Letting Go Of Parenting Ideals

Being a new mum, I inevitably end up meeting other new mums who have very firm ideas on how they will parent their children.  The 'I wills'  and 'I won'ts' often start while their baby is still in utero.

I will have a drug-free birth.

I will go back to work after six weeks OR I won't go back to work until my children are in school/uni/left home.

I won't put them in daycare.

I won't let them watch TV.

I will only feed them organic foods OR I won't let them eat McDonald's/Easter eggs/anything with sugar.

I will keep up my church involvement.

I will do devotions with them at the breakfast table at 6am every day.

I will breastfeed for at least a year OR I'll never give them formula.

I won't use a dummy.

I will only use cloth nappies.

I won't ever smack or use time out for discipline.

The list goes on...

Let me clarify...these aren't bad things.  It's good to have hopes and ideas on how we want to parent.  We need to make some plans and decisions.

But in less than six months I've learnt that sometimes real life gets in the way of carefully made plans.  I gave birth to a person - not a doll or a robot.  He's a cutie, but he's a sinner.  I'm a sinner.  His arrival has made that very, very clear.

Parents get sick.  Children get sick.  Mothers want to breastfeed but have no milk.  Babies don't feed well.  Parents find it all too hard and need respite.

You never really know how you'll react to a situation until you're in it.

A good friend uses the saying, "Do what you have to do."  Sometimes we can't follow through on our good intentions.  I didn't expect to have a caesarean or postnatal depression.  That has drastically changed how I do things.  I quit doing the missions convenor role at church for now.  I say 'no' to night Bible study groups.  I say 'no' to lots of things actually.  I only use disposable nappies.  We pay cleaners once a fortnight.  The dummy is a sanity-saver.  I put Rory in daycare one day a week.  I thought I was quite 'open' to options before I had Rory, but I definitely am now.

I never thought I'd use daycare until Rory was a toddler, but it has been a real blessing.  It's like my Sabbath from babycare.  I get time out and Rory loves watching the older kids play.  Win, win all round.  I must admit I do look forward to daycare day every week.  I've started playing tennis again and I chill out with some TV shows or a good book.  I have to be organised with expressing milk, but it's so worth it.  I get quite cross when I hear older women bagging out daycare centres, or young mums declaring they'd never use them.  Never say never.  You don't know what might happen down the track.

I've learnt that I might not be the sort of mum I thought I'd be, but there are many ways to be a good one.

1 comment:

Betty Luckhurst said...

Truer words were never spoken--I mean, written, Sarah. Nobody can say what they'd do in any situation before they get there. Every baby is different and has different needs for everything under the sun--some are passive, some are very aggressive, some are quite content while others need much attention. I agree with your friend, 'Do what you have to do' to raise your baby well. He certainly won't remember anything specific much before he's 6 or so, but he'll know that his Mum was there.