All the Mothers

Mummy and Moo

I am not a good sleeper. I tend more towards insomnia when I’m stressed than the alternative. And on these nights when I find myself wide-eyed at 3am, staring at the shadows on the ceiling, I like to go trawling through the Internet, with Mummy blogs and parenting discussion rooms being my current trawl of choice. I have noticed though, that any issues to do with children, whether it be what type of pyjamas they wear, or what kind of lullabies you sing to them at night, seem to bring out the kind of response normally reserved for conversations about politics and religion. So many articles with so many experts, claiming that this method a particular aspect of child rearing is right, with the parents who subscribe to their view behaving as if their chosen expert is some kind of Messiah, and that all who oppose them are stupid, blind, and, at the core, an evil child abuser.

People who act as if feeding them puree over finger food (or vice versa) is a decision that will affect their future job prospects. Like putting them in a particular type of nappy will result in a completely different person in a few years time. Who act like formula is some kind of slow poison, only given to children by mothers who either just had kids for the welfare cheque, or simply aren’t ‘woman enough’. Or, conversely, that a woman who breastfeeds her child past three or four months of age is acting out some kind of perversion that shouldn’t be accepted by mainstream society, and has some kind of emotional attachment issue. People who realistically have no child rearing experience outside their own children, or sometimes not even that; but claim their right to judge because they are an aunt, worked with children, or took a psychology class. Or, even better, because they heard it on TV/read an article on the Internet. Or those that had children decades ago, and so have fuzzy memories of what their children were like, and judge you based on these half memories of children long grown.

I am here to say enough. I have met many other parents, all raising their kids differently. All love their children equally. All trying their best. I am here to tell you – if your child is happy most of the time when they are awake, if they laugh and smile, if they are growing and learning, if they eat sometimes and sleep sometimes, and most of all if they know you love them, and if you know they love you, they are fine. Better than fine. Perfect even. And regardless whether they got here via labour or surgery or adoption, with mummy feeling every push, or none of them, whether you use disposable or cloth nappies to keep them dry, whether you wear them or put them in a pram, whether you pacify them with dummies or distract them with your keys, whether you give them milk in a bottle or while huddled to your chest, whether you make purées at home, buy commercial food or let them eat off your plate, whether you keep them contained or let them run wild, and no matter how or where or when they get to sleep, I think that you are doing a freaking amazing job, and you shouldn’t change a thing.

I don’t know what makes these people so judgemental. Maybe the weight of their own Mummy guilt (it’s a real thing, Google it; and we all have it, even though most of the time, it isn’t earned) is crushing them, and they feel the need to move some of it to your shoulders, so try to act superior. Maybe they feel so strongly about their own agenda that they feel the need to push it, even if it makes some poor, well-meaning parent feel lower than they have ever felt. Maybe, they are in the 10% of people in every population who are just nasty, or stupid. If it is the first, then I ask them to read the above paragraph and stop bullying others because they feel low. And to the rest, I challenge you to go into a class of 15 year olds and tell me with some certainty which of the above techniques was used in raising them. I think you’ll find it fairly impossible. And, in the words of a truly great mind, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.”

I’m An, the wife of a wonderful, but extremely nerdy gamer, a mother to two, a scientist, an amateur pastry chef, a daughter, a sister and a friend.

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