Sometimes parenting is tough. Instagram tells you that you should be happy and grateful for everything. Your baby should be milk drunk and snoozing in the Moses basket (& debunking that is A-WHOLE-NOTHER blog post!), you should have a full face of make-up on & a clean house, but life is not like that. Some days suck. You might have sore stitches, or an abdominal wound, sore nipples, or a combination of these. Some days make you cry. And that’s okay. Social media often sucks. The thing to remember is people post their best days. They rarely post the “I haven’t showered, I’ve got baby sick in my bra and it’s five o’clock” photos. They rarely post the “my baby has screamed for 6 hours and I don’t know what else to do to comfort them” photos. Do not compare yourself to other people.
I remember going to visit my workplace with my eldest when they were a couple of months old, and somebody asked me how things were going. My reply was “this is the hardest thing I’ve EVER done in my life” and my colleague looked at me in total disbelief. I left there thinking I was doing something wrong because I was finding parenting tough. With hindsight, I know now that it’s just that my experience of parenting was different to their experience of parenting, and rather than beating myself up for weeks over it, I just needed to accept that I needed a different level of support than they did. I needed to find my tribe. To find the people who were thinking and feeling the same things as me. I needed to find people that I could talk to who didn’t look at me like I was mad. I needed to find people who were saying the things that I felt that I could take on board, rather than things I needed to smile and nod at.
The thing is, babies don’t come with instruction manuals. I’m a great believer in trusting your instincts, but we spend so long being told what to do and how to act, and the way things should be by different people, that we learn not to trust our own instincts. By all means, listen to the expert. Listen to your friend. Listen to your sister. Listen to your mum. Listen to your cousin. Listen to the little old lady on the bus, but THEY have never parented YOUR baby! Smile and nod, and take what works for you.
To learn how to parent my eldest, I needed to find examples of parenting so that I could work out what would work for us. I talked to lots of people and I did a lot of smiling and nodding. I heard things from people that made me really sad. I heard things from people that most definitely did not fit with what I was thinking or feeling. But I was eventually lucky enough to find parents who were thinking and feeling the same as me and I could ask them what they were doing to support this brand new human in their lives. I found lots of strategies that worked for me and I found lots of strategies that most definitely did not work for me. Some of them we tried and then ditched them, some of them we didn’t even try, some we tried, loved & kept.
I have a friend called Lucy, she is a wonderful person – that I don’t always feel like I deserve! Everyone needs a friend like Lucy. We met when we were pregnant with our firstborns & when my youngest came along, Lucy used to drop her preschool aged daughter off at Nursery & come to my house to hold my baby, so that I could shower! Plus she bakes amazing cakes. She didn’t ask for anything, she didn’t tell me what to do or give her opinion on what she thought my baby needed – she just turned up! With Cake!
Sometimes life with a Bubba is A-MAZE-ING! Just wait for that first smile or when they say your name or tell you they love you! But when it’s tough – that’s ok too! Have a good cry, then chuck some clothes on (it doesn’t matter if you’ve washed or not) & go find your Tribe! You may even find your own Lucy!
LOCAL PARENTING SUPPORT:
Sling Library Drop-In: (1st/3rd Thursday’s of the month, 10.30-12.30 – Crystal Palace) You can come to a drop-in session with or without a sling/carrier! If you just want to hang out with some like-minded parents, come along – grab yourself a tea/coffee and a bit of cake & have a chat! (If you’d like help with a sling/carrier, make sure to book in beforehand – but if you just want to come for the social aspect then, do please just rock up! Details/booking here.
The Village London: (Catford) At The Village there are lots of different ways to meet other parents. You can join a Walk & Talk Group, pop along to the Sling Library and Carrier support, come for the Breast/Chest Feeding Support Group, join the Vocalise Choir, or many more options. You can also just pop in for a cuppa and a chat – there’s always someone around. More Info & Booking Here!
Catford Postnatal Group: This welcoming group runs every Friday 11am-1pm, at Abbotshall Healthy Lifestyle Centre, Abbotshall Rd, London, SE6 1SQ. They welcome parents antenatally too so that you can meet people who are just ahead of you in the parenting journey. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more info, or join the Facebook Group.