A good mother?

I wonder if there are any mothers out there who don’t question if they are a good parent. Don’t question whether they are present enough or patient enough. Don’t wonder if they could be doing more.

I doubt it.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, parenthood comes with a whole lot of guilt. I was completely unprepared for just how often I would be overwhelmed by, what is more commonly referred as, Mum Guilt.

Here’s where I’m at right now. Last night Oscar slept badly. This isn’t unusual by any means but for the last few days all that seems to work, to get him back to sleep easily, is breastfeeding. Not breastmilk but breastfeeding.  So I was tired this morning. At 4.45 he was fully awake and ready to start the day but I was far from it. He sat between Candice and I on the bed, playfully throwing things from the bedhead at my face and climbing all over me, his tiny feet jabbing into my ribs. I groaned and pulled the sheet up over my head. Candice was tired too and grumbled something like, “I guess I’ll be getting up then”. I was so relieved to be able to stay in bed. Fast forward an hour and a half later, when Candice comes back into the room with Oscar. She was about to leave for work and asked me if I wanted her to drop Oscar off at daycare as she had gotten him all ready. I paused for a second, before saying “Yeah, that would be good”. I then rolled over and fell back asleep. It was about an hour later that I woke up and that pesky Mum Guilt started to creep in. You see, I don’t start work until 2pm everyday this week. I had been excited for this shift to come back around as it means I get more time during the week, with Oscar. I’m always complaining about not getting much quality time with him yet here I am, at home alone while he is at daycare. And what’s worse is I’m enjoying the quiet and I’m happy to be alone. Cue the guilt.

I know this doesn’t make me a bad mother. Not at all. In fact if I was to read this post I would think that it is totally normal and that this woman should chill out and stop making something out of something.

Because that’s the thing about Mum Guilt. It’s often irrational and brimming with self-condemnation. It channels its way through every vein of this parenting gig. Sometimes I find it completely inescapable.

Do I spend too much time on my phone? Do I talk to him enough? Am I offering enough variety in his meals? Could his routine be better? Am I encouraging enough? Do we have the TV on too much? Do we say ‘please’ and thank you’ enough around him or are we teaching him bad manners?

My purpose of this post isn’t to have people reassure me that I’m a good parent. I already know that I’m doing a good job, I really do believe that. It’s simply to let you know that if you’re currently suffering through a bout of Mum Guilt, you certainly aren’t alone.

I think it happens to the best of us.

So, if you promise not to be so hard on yourself, I’ll try and do the same. Tomorrow is always a new day.

Besides, your kid probably thinks you’re best Mum in the world.


Three plus one?

Lately I’ve been thinking about our next baby. Which is crazy. We don’t have plans to grow our family for a couple more years so it really shouldn’t be thinking about it at all. Have I forgotten how hard it is in the beginning?

Oscar is racing toward toddlerhood so quickly we can barely keep up. A few weeks ago, he had his last swimming lesson in the ‘Baby 1’ class before moving up to the Baby 2 group. He had missed the week before when all the other babies in his class had moved up to the next age group. This meant that he had to have his last lesson with all the new babies, ranging in age from 4 -6 months. He looked GIANT next to them. His legs were long, his hands were huge and his splashes were strong. It was a bizarre moment to see him as a sort of non baby and a little boy instead.

I love this age so much. My stress levels about everything Oscar related has decreased ten fold. During his first year, for the most part, I was constantly on the Baby Centre app/website to read every post. I listened out for passing advice and info on all forms of social media. Teething advice, food advice, breastfeeding advice, sleep advice. I would stay up late, googling rashes and abnormal types of baby poo so that I knew what to look out for. I was so worried a lot about things that I had no control over. Those first few months of his life, I found about 4 grey hairs. Seriously.

Slowly, I learnt to go with the flow. Advice can be great but I know now from experience, that what works for Oscar may not work for someone else. All the info I was reading only made me feel more confused and disheartened. I still ask for advice from time to time but I tend to take it all with a grain of salt because it’s so true that no 2 babies are the same. I’m hoping to take this knowledge with me when we do decide to have our next baby. You know, to prevent a few more of those grey hairs from appearing.

I guess the new baby thoughts are just happening because Oscar is so much easier these days. Although he still doesn’t sleep very well, he is happy to play independently and is getting pretty good at feeding himself. I suppose that makes me feel that we could totally handle having another baby right now. But for the record, we totally couldn’t. We need to sleep, big time. Before re entering the world of midnight feedings and newborn nappy changes, I want to leave time for Candice and I to reconnect as people, not just as parents. We both love Oscar so much that it’s easy to let the subject of him overtake the majority of our conversations these days. We just need a little time before bringing home another baby to date the shit out of each other. We totally deserve it.

At this point we are thinking that in 2 years, we’ll try for a little brother or sister for Oscar. I’ll still turn to mush when I pass a newborn in the street or see a size 0000 singlet but I also know that the wait will be worth it.

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Candice and a tiny newborn Oscar