Some days I question myself and every single thing I do as a parent. Other days I’m like fuck yeah, I got this. But most days I’m just making things up as I go along and trying to convince myself that I have the slightest idea of what I’m doing.
It’s funny how we live the beginning of our lives being raised by our parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters.. And then we fall pregnant and have a baby of our own and they’re like ‘you’re on your own now’. Sure, everyone is always wanting to put their two cents in and tell you all their best tips for raising a child. But what about teaching us the basics BEFORE we bring the tiny human into the world.
I remember giving birth to Ollie.. just hours after he was born.. a 21 year old new mum, shoved into the maternity ward at 7pm, told visitors must leave and next minute the lights were out. I sat for a good half hour thinking to myself what the heck do I do now? Do I feed him? How do I know if he’s hungry? Burping? Nappy changes? I had a good half hour FREAK OUT before I decided to ask for help. I called the midwife and she told me ‘just give him a feed, make sure you burp him and change his nappy, then put him back to bed’ and before I knew it she was on her way out the door. ‘Ummm, excuse me… But HOW do I do all of that!?’
Yes, I went to the pre-baby parenting classes. I read every baby book at my local library. But none of that comes even close to preparing you for the real deal!
I’m so lucky I didn’t have any early issues with breastfeeding because I definitely didn’t feel like I had much help or support in that area and I realise now why so many mums give up so early on. Because 1. Breastfeeding is fucking hard and 2. The support isn’t there. Not everyone is so keen to ask for help. And if it’s not offered, some people will just continue on without it, not even realising that it’s available.
That’s my one biggest piece of advice for any new mum. ASK FOR HELP!! Swallow your pride and ask every single damn question you can think of while you’re in the hospital and have professionals there to help you. Because in two days, you’ll be sent on your way wondering what the heck do I do now? And you’ll probably continue asking yourself that question for the rest of your life.
Unfortunately, babies don’t come with handbooks and there’s no file you can illegally download when you get home. You have no choice but to make it up as you go along and pray you get something right.
I’m going to assume I’ve gone right somewhere. My kids are still alive and healthy and they’re both pretty darn smart. They have beautiful manners (most of the time) and they’re full of so much love (well Ollie is anyway). This would definitely have to be a ‘fuck yeah’ moment.
Then I’ll have a day where absolutely nothing goes right. I take them out to a restaurant and one child is resembling a demonic entity as he fights with all his might to avoid having to sit in the highchair (can you guess who?) And the other is crying that he’s too tired and wants to go home. The night also includes numerous punches, pinches and head butts from the demon child, the other one rubbing an octopus he found in a seafood salad against his face saying ‘I love my new friend’ and asking if he can bring it home to keep as a pet and then there’s me, wondering who the heck allowed me to have kids?
I went home that night really questioning myself. Not about the octopus, I think I handled that pretty well… I wasn’t even going to bother with the fight of telling Ollie he couldn’t bring it home but we managed to convince him that if he flushes Octi the octopus down the toilet, he’ll be reunited with his mummy and daddy. Parenting win right?
So I guess that was a ‘fuck yeah’ within a ‘wtf am I doing’ moment. Because I was so, so exhausted after my night with Alfie that I just couldn’t stop asking myself where the hell did I go wrong. And what if he’s like this forever?
I get it, kids are crazy and there’s all that talk about ‘the terrible twos’ but nothing prepared me for this. Ollie was an absolute angel compared to Alfie. This kid has some serious issues. I can’t help but wonder if it was something I did. Did I bring him up differently? Is it because he was the second child and I wasn’t giving him as much attention? Or is this just a phase (one hell of a long phase) that he will grow out of? Let’s hope for the latter because if this is the terrible twos, I DO NOT want to even think about what he’ll be like as a ‘threenager’.
I guess there’s not much I can do though right? I could try to mold him into this perfect little quiet boy so that my life is that little bit easier but I think we all know that ain’t gonna happen and is it really what I’d want? He is his own little person and this behaviour is one big reminder that everyone is different. No baby or child is the same and we all handle things differently. I’ve just got to take a deep breath and embrace him. All of him. He is my boy, I created this crazy little bundle of chaos and I love every bit of him.