On becoming a mother {2 months in}

Being a parent is all consuming. People tell you it’s going to be, but you never quite believe it. Maybe you ¬†believe it, but you can’t actually comprehend it. Nothing I say now will prepare you for it, because until you’re living it, you will never be able to understand the sheer joy, and yet utter terror that parenthood brings with it.

I’d mentally prepared myself for the dirty nappies, and the screaming (of which there are far less of both than I’d expected. Bonus). I’d not prepared myself for how I would love Emmi way beyond what I knew I could feel. How I would never not be thinking about her. And how I live in a constant state of anxiety, tinged with guilt.
There are so many decisions to make as a parent. So many wrong turnings to take. Every choice you make feels like a defining moment, one that will affect the rest of your child’s life.The pressure, readers, the pressure. And the internet is no help whatsoever. In fact, it is the exact opposite of help. Motherhood on the internet seems to have no grey areas. It is black or white. You either give formula to your baby, or think it is the juice of satan. You either let your baby cry themselves to sleep to develop independence, or you pride yourself on never leaving your baby alone for a second, and co-sleeping until they’re 3. Half of the mothers you meet will tell you that their baby is so much happier for being on a routine, and the other half see ‘routine’ as a dirty word and think it’s a form of child abuse to wake a sleeping baby. It’s a minefield I tell you.
It’s such an emotive subject, and people feel the need to defend their choices so vehemently that it becomes polarised. You must choose a side and stick with it. The need to defend their choice leads people to aggressively denounce all other options as harmful for your baby, and likely to cause them to grow up obese, stupid, and socially inept. This is not something you want hanging over your head.
So for the first two months of her life, I tied myself up in knots worrying that I was doing the wrong thing. That my choices were somehow going to damage her. I looked to the internet for advice, but each new bit of information contradicted the last. I would make a decision to try one way, and then I’d end up reading something that would tell me it was harming my baby, and I’d veer to the other side. And worse, I then convinced myself that by not just sticking with one thing, I was making a mess of things. And in a way I was. I was making a mess of me. I was stressed, upset, and felt like I was failing. Every day I’d try something new, and I felt like I was on a downward spiral, not knowing how to look after my baby who was doing so damned well, despite my failings.

And then, when I felt at my lowest, I turned a corner. I stopped looking at the internet. I put my books away. and I just did what came naturally to me. I did what works for me and Emmi, not what the books said I should do. I’ve found that somewhere down the middle of the line works for us. We have a rough routine, but if it doesn’t work out, we don’t get stressed. I let her cry for five minutes sometimes, when I know she doesn’t need anything, and yet I let her fall asleep on my chest sometimes because I know she won’t do that for much longer. It works for us.

Being a mum is bloody hard work, and it doesn’t all come naturally, but sometimes you just have to trust in yourself and your baby. You’ll probably work it out. And she’s not obese or stupid yet, so I’m pretty sure I’m doing ok.

I tell you, it’s lucky she is so damned cute, or I’d not have made it through.

*Beautiful photo, as always, by Chloe Lodge (boy does it pay being good friends with a talented photographer…)*
Categories: Any Other Baby, Becoming a Mother, Family, Friends and Relationships
18 interesting thoughts on this

18 Comments

  1. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Um, she is ridiculously cute so you're obviously doing something right! x

  2. Fee
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Lovely to have you back!

    I have no idea what it's like to be a parent but can imagine the conflicting information must be SO confusing. It sounds like you're doing an amazing job so this must be another life situation where following your instinct is the best thing to do!

    And she is gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!

  3. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    You know how we all complain about the Wedding Industry, and how we're forced to make certain choices and pressure dinto doing stuff we don't want to do?

    This is like that, but with an Actual Human, not a unity candle.

    Clare I am so excited that you're back! And I think your perspective on motherhood is gonig to add a fascinating dimension to AOW.

    Readers, don't worry, we're breaking C in gently. And Emmi will be writing for us shortly – I've scheduled her in for a March post.

  4. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    I advocate putting your fingers in your ears and sticking your tongue out at the next person/website/baby book that makes you feel like you're anything less than the brilliant, loving mother that you are.

    She is so beautiful!

    Px

  5. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Seriously. That picture? Too adorable. I let out inadvertent cooing noises in the office.

    I think parenthood is one of those areas where everyone is terrified of doing it wrong. And some people, when they are scared that they are failing, choose to take to the internet and bolster their confidence by proclaiming their rightness from the rooftops. Or, you know, the sofa. A lot of the black and white nature of mothering online comes from people trying to justify their own choices, and push down their own anxiety (although obv some of it is valid). Ignore those people, and when you are scared that you are failing, look at your beautiful, healthy, brilliant daughter and know that you're doing fine.

    After all, our mothers didn't have the internet and check how awesome we all are.

    K x

  6. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Katielase that's the best argument for ignoring The Internets ever. We ARE all awesome it's true.

  7. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    Clare you are inspirational. x

  8. Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    She is perfect….and what you are doing obviously agrees with her xxx

  9. Sarah
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Yay, a Clare post!
    You always talk a lot of sense. (And I don't even have a baby)

    Love seeing pictures of Emmi, she's gorgeous x

  10. Posted February 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    Aw we've missed you Clare! But I suppose we can excuse you with such a bundle of cuteness keeping you busy.

  11. Emily
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Hurray, I've missed Clare's posts. And though no babies yet, I am caught between really hoping it is soon, and being terrified (K is keen to have lots asap!). So I'm also looking forward to the breadth this will bring.

  12. Posted February 21, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Clare, she is just the cutest baby. Your daughter looks so content, in all the photos.

    xx

  13. Becca
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Two things:

    1. I didn't read anything….I just skimmed to the picture. TOO CUTE FOR WORDS. I'm sure the words were good too. Can the March post just be pictures?

    2. Anna K….f%^k…do I need to get a unity candle?

  14. Fee
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Becca- if you do get a unity candle, please could you show it to me as, erm, I don't know what one is.

    I fear I have just exposed myself to be rather stupid.

  15. Posted February 22, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    Those eyes, those beautiful blue eyes! She is just the most gorgeous thing ever made, ever!

    Great to read your writing again, Clare. Trusting your instincts rather than the interwebs has got to be the most sensible decision you've made. It doesn't look like Emmi has any complaints!

    xXx

  16. Posted February 23, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Seriously LOVING the pictures of Emmi, more please – the cuteness is addictive!!

    I'm so glad you have come to the conclusion to follow your instincts. Having SO many friends with babies now, I have seen them all with their different parenting styles and it is the scariest thing to think about how we might cope with baby raising. Hopefully my instincts will kick in and I might have a clue what's right for me when the time comes! It sounds like looking for advice is a minefield of contradictions :-/

  17. Posted February 24, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Clare, welcome back! And honestly so well put.
    Never in my life have I had so many people think its ok to tell you how to do something. It's ridiculously hard enough without everyone elses two pence.
    Aslong as u and Emmi are happy ignore everyone else!
    I miss my little bean falling asleep on my chest SO MUCH!

  18. Posted February 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    She is gorgeous. I wish i could make other words! I'm am sure she is a whole lot more than just gorgeous though.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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image by Lucy Stendall Photography

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