The things you really need to let go of and stop worrying about as a parent. Includes a tiny bit of advice but take this with a pinch of salt I’m no Oprah.
Last week at toddler group I had to shamefully ask a woman what her name was. I know her as Charlottes Mummy, and have done for too long to introduce myself to obtain her name. We chat most weeks, inane chat about children. Therefore I had to let go of my shame and admit I’d forgotten her name, man up and ask. Kerry was very nice about it (thanks Kerry) and admitted to doing the same thing herself.
So this got me thinking about other things I’ve had to ‘let go’ of…
Push or Pull.
Right, let’s start from the beginning of parenthood. Labour. However which way your bundle of joy makes his or her way into the world I’m pretty sure it’s not going to affect their adult life. I very much doubt a university personal statement has ever had the following statements made in it: “Arrived into the world via drug free vaginal delivery” “Middle child, arrived via tricky VBAC”. And its not exactly something you can put on your CV as a key skill “great at dispelling humans from my vagina” “very good at recovering from major surgery whilst caring for a tiny human and washing everyone’s pants”. As you enter this big old motherhood club you’ll hear a million birth stories, as soon as you’ve done it people want to hear yours. But let it go, share away its bloody cathartic, just resist the urge to compete.
Houdini came out of the sunroof; P came out of the main entrance. Neither is any better or worse for it, both labours had their pros and cons (pros: being over, getting a baby. cons: it fucking hurts, you lose all dignity, your abdomen is cut, your vagina is cut) but at the end of both I got the best reward – a human all of my own to keep! This is the reason you have to let it go and not feel like labour is a competition, you haven’t failed if you don’t do it naturally as the reward is the same for all, push/ pull, drugs/drug free, home birth/ surgical delivery. It’s not a competition, you can’t fail at this.
Bot Bots or Bangers (or both!)
Breast/ bottle or both, this debate has run for years. And once again I am near certain if you breastfeed or bottle feed or you dabble in the art of both your baby isn’t going to fail their A-levels because of your inability to whip your tit out at any given moment for the first six months of their life. With Houdini I drove myself near insane with my determination to breastfeed him. I felt like I’d failed by having a C-section (long story another time maybe) I wasn’t going to fail at breastfeeding too. Essentially I nailed it eventually but not after six days of hell for us both as we struggled to master this new skill together, him starving and me racked with guilt on top of sleep deprivation in those first giddy few days as a mother. I’m thrilled it worked for me, breastfeeding is literally the lazy girl’s best friend (no getting up to get bottles, if you’re unorganised like me you can leave your house without your shit together and you’re still able to feed your baby!) but second time round I was open to all avenues of feeding and have dabbled in both. With a toddler and a life the ability to leave Mr B and a bottle behind has been a god send. One of the downfalls of exclusively breastfeeding is you are invisibly tied to that bundle of joy which can be both physically and mentally draining. Like getting the baby out of your uterus, keeping it alive is also not a competition, as long as your baby is fed you’re winning!
Farewell dignity, see you later privacy.
Depending on how you start your journey into parenthood you may hold onto the dignity thing for a little longer than others. For me it was gone early doors when the gynaecologist asked if the Junior Doctor could observe my scan. I pulled my top up, she handed me a gown and told me to remove my pants! Then the most beautiful human being entered the room to observe my scan – junior doctor that could have easily been an extra on Grey’s Anatomy – and I had a mental argument with myself for not being beach tidy for this event. Fool that I was I hadn’t goggled before our appointment I did not realise the scan would be an internal one! By the time labour came around for me more people than I care to remember had had a good poke about my lady bits so examinations to see how dilated I was were old hat. You really do leave your dignity at the door with pregnancy and labour, and sadly I’m not sure you pick it back up when you head out the door of the hospital tiniest human you’ve ever seen in hand.
Then there is privacy, you keep hold of this for a wee bit when it comes to being a Mum because even though you’re not weeing alone a new born doesn’t really count. Neither does a 10 month old, as they don’t care what you’re doing as you go about your business. No your privacy really bolts for the door when your children become toddlers and their tiny little brains start questioning everything. Mummy what are you doing? Why are you putting sweeties down the loo? (tampax, that time of the month, I know I don’t need to explain this further some things are best when they remain vague) Mummy are you doing a poo? Oh is it just a smelly fart then? Mummy where is your willy? Mummy your tummy is wibbly like jelly? (said whilst jiggling my tummy as I have a shower). One of the absolute best things about returning to work for me was the ability to go to the bathroom alone, lock the door, and get my own loo paper without an audience or any inane questions. Don’t even get me started on sex and intimacy with kids around, lets just say spontaneity is on hold for a few years, or at least during the waking hours of our children!
Feast or Famine
Just like us children have off days and on days. Some days they’re hungry some days they don’t fancy eating anything other than yogurt. First time round I worried all the time if Houdini didn’t have three square meals a day – mostly I worried he wouldn’t sleep through! Until one evening more vom than I care to remember came out of this tiny person – far too late in the day to start again and put three square meals back in – but he slept though regardless. These days I’m now a lot more blasé about food; it?’s not a battle worth fighting in my world.
I’ve had mornings where Houdini has asked for fish fingers and porridge for breakfast; and I let him have them. Weird choice I know, not my personal choice for breakfast but hey ho he’s eating not crying and I don’t really care if he wants to eat like a cross between Pingu and Goldilocks for a few weeks. I’m 99% sure he won’t be eating it for breakfast when he’s 20 – and anyway if he is that’s on him, he can explain he’s been a weird eater since he was three! When ill P only wants to eat strawberries and yogurt, that’s ok with me too. So far whenever my children have been odd over their diet choices if I let it go the fad passes far quicker. Who am I to judge one of my favourite mum snacks in spaghetti hoops cold out of the tin…
Reasonably logical, umm not a chance!?
Seriously as your offspring rounds two and a half and has more words in their head than they know what to do with let go of the expectation anything that falls out of their mouth will make sense, be logical and or reasonable. In the last year I’ve been asked if we can go to South Africa and experienced a full on melt down for 30 minutes when I said “maybe not today”. Told I must share when I said Houdini couldn’t hold the new baby – she was still inside my womb at the time!
“Let it go Let it go..” sung loudly in my head to drown out the crying, yep I’ve long since let it go, I cannot reason with this child, logic does not yet function in his world. He still believes he can be a knight when he grows up, is convinced dinosaurs live in Australia and South African is somewhere between our house and Grannies house that we can just “pop” to! I’m in a world of trouble when P joins the club of no reason or logic.
Getting everything right.
For me it’s a toss up of having all my shit together or being on time! Basically long ago I accepted I wasn’t going to get everything right all the time. For me I either turn up at toddlers on time possibly without my pants having not locked the house and without any nappies, or I’m late and I have my shit together (spare clothes for Houdini just in case, a nappy changing pack, drinks for them both, money to donate, the house is locked and we’ve all got a coat on). Yes there are Mums out there who have their shit together and get places on time and I’m not bashing them (in truth I’m fucking jealous and want to know what their secret is, or where they’re getting their mum steroids from!) they’re amazing. I just knew for my own sanity Motherhood wasn’t something I wanted to compete at. Give yourself a break early doors and ‘let it go’ you can’t be good at everything all the time, learn your strengths (mine is applying make-up one handed without a mirror) and accept/ embrace your weaknesses (lateness, swearing, general domestic slutness)
I don’t think it can ever be said too much “We’re all winging it”, for years the human race has been making up parenthood as it went along and it’s not doing too badly as a result. We’ve gone to the moon and invented the internet for goodness sake!
There is so much more I’ll have to “Let go” I know this, I do it on a daily basis. And I’m getting better at not sweating the small stuff. When I had Houdini I had two pieces of fantastic advice:
“don’t wake a sleeping baby”
& “trust your instincts”
I’m adding to this list (although it might not be fantastic advice) ” Let it go, we’re all winging it and you’re doing a fecking brilliant job” Go team Mum, and if all else fails there is always Gin to help you along the way!