PARENTHOOD is a whole big exhausting bundle of uncertainties.
Some can be rather pleasant, lovely in fact. Others, well, not quite so much.
But there is one thing that I can tell you about being a parent that I know absolutely for sure. And it is this:
Once you are a parent, you WILL be judged.
Make no mistake, when you become the proud owner of beautiful offspring, you will feel like the eyes of the world are watching your every move.
You will be judged constantly. And not just by a few people. But by many.
And if you’re a new parent, I hate to say it, but you’ll be judged by practically everyone you know.
People will watch you very closely as you parent your beloved bundle of joy. They’ll pull their faces in disagreement, shake their heads when they think you’re doing something wrong, talk behind your back, smile oddly as they watch you struggle with something and will provide you with endless, ‘well meaning’ advice, even when you haven’t asked for it.
When it comes to parenting, everyone is an expert. So if you’re a novice and new to the whole baby thing, believe you me, you’ll be analysed, picked apart and judged, often. Great ey?
As a first time parent myself, I have been on the receiving end of this judgment and still am occasionally. At the beginning, it was hard not take it personally, especially when I was exhausted and my hormones were going crazy.
And on a bad day, this kind of judgment, can still really knock me for six. Finding your feet as a new parent is not easy so when people make comments, offer unasked for advice or pull their faces at something I’m doing, any confidence in my new found parenting skills can often take a bit of a beating.
Thankfully, on good days, this kind of unwanted attention doesn’t really bother me. But like I say, on a bad day, it can feel truly awful. Like just the other day when I was in town with my daughter.
On this particular day I was feeling shattered after being woken all night by a teething girl whilst the teething girl in question was feeling pretty grumpy and hungry too.
As her apparent grumpiness started to escalate, I decided to dash into the nearest shop and find her something relatively healthy to munch on until we made it home for lunch – a packet of organic baby cheese puffs of which she ate just a few.
As we strolled home, my daughter happily munching away on one of these said ‘puffs’, a lady of advancing years (who should have known better) walked past us and threw me the most obvious disgusted ‘how could you’ look I’ve ever received, obviously believing that I was feeding my precious daughter complete and utter junk.
I was mortified.
And angry. Really angry.
As my cheeks blushed with indignation, I literally had to refrain myself from going after her. I wanted to shout after her “but they’re special organic crisps for babies, you stupid woman. They’re organic I tell you!”
I didn’t of course but oh, how I wanted to.
Afterwards when I was wondering why she had judged me so harshly, I came to the conclusion that the woman in question must of had no experience herself of looking after children or had just completely forgotten how exhausting, fraught and complicated it can often be.
Because although I’m truly ashamed to admit it, before I became a parent, I guess I too was just like her. An unsympathetic, unexperienced, parent judger.
Forgive me, but in the past, I have on more than one occasion shaked my head in disapproval when I’ve seen a baby without a sun hat on and rolled my eyes at a toddler having a tantrum in a supermarket.
I know, I know. Dreadful isn’t it. But that was then. Before I knew better.
Now of course, it’s completely different. Instead of frowning, I’ll offer a harassed parent a kind, knowing smile or take note of how I’ve got all of this to come and more besides!
Because now I’m a mum, I get it.
I understand that actually that baby without a sun hat probably isn’t wearing one because the parent just cannot get the child to keep it on it’s head for love nor money and that the toddler in the supermarket is creating a ruckous not because it’s Mum can’t discipline him or her but because that’s just what little people do sometimes when they’re feeling pretty cheesed off.
Parenthood is trial and error. A hell of a lot of guess work mixed with a dash of common sense, some ideas you’ve picked up along the way and hopefully, a whole lotta love.
There is no one book to teach us how to do it right because what works for one will not work for another and therein lies the whole point. When it comes to parenting your child, it’s all about personal choice and so the ‘best’ way to parent your child surely has to be the one that works for you?
Am I the best mother in the world? No, most probably not. But am I doing the best that I can? Yes, you can bet your bottom dollar I am.
Sometimes I think I do rather brilliantly. Other times I don’t. Sometimes being a mum just seems so easy. Other times, I just don’t seem to have a clue.
Nearly fourteen months on, I’m still finding my parenting feet and even though I often fail, I’m busy learning too.
Anybody watching me would most probably disagree with many of my parenting ways but I’m trying not to care so much and if you’re a parent, so should you.
It’s taken me a while but finally I’m beginning to realise that really, the only judge I should ever really be bothered by or indeed take notice of, is the incredible little person in my care.
So the next time someone walks past me and throws me a disapproving look, I’m going to do my best to ignore them.
And instead, I’m going to happily take one of Elsie’s beaming smiles as delicious proof that, on the whole, I’m not doing too bad a job of this mummy malarky at all.
Till the next time, to all you parents out there, I salute you! x