I have this vague memory of a conversation I had, seven years ago when I was about a million months pregnant with my first child.
The details are a bit hazy but I know I was talking about the impending labour and I remember saying, “just as long as the baby comes out healthy, that’s all that matters – it’s not about me.”
Seven years on there’s something that still makes me so sad about those words; it’s not about me. Why did I think that delivering a baby, out of my actual body and into this world shouldn’t be about my needs?
Sorry, you’re almost a mum, time to check your shit at the door. From now on in you will be a selfless being, devoted to and only to the needs of your baby.
It sounds so ridiculous now, but this was where my head was at. Motherhood was obviously going to be as simple as that, just forget anything you need. The end.
This was before mum blogging was a big thing, there were no ‘Queens’ yet. Self-care was not part of the everyday vernacular and the concept of a mother putting herself first had very different (and pretty average) undertones.
Going into motherhood with that sort of attitude, I’m surprised I didn’t hit a wall within the first year, I wish I’d have known that I was wrong – and thinking about this made me realise there are a few other parenting truths I also wish I knew back then.
If I could talk to my very pregnant self now, I would tell her a few things.
- Firstly, lay off the cheese, breastfeeding is not the magic weight loss pill you think it will be.
- Secondly, go have a nap and when you wake up, nap some more.
- Then I would tell her that there are many different and equally valid ways to raise a tiny human, you will have friends who parent differently, and that’s ok. Once the kids get over about 3 most of those differences will be irrelevant. What’s not ok is friends who judge your choices.
- When your kid is being an asshole, they are not just giving you a hard time; they are also having a hard time.
- Sometimes babies cry for no reason.
- Once your child learns to speak, or more importantly – once they learn how to ask tricky questions, the answer ‘different families have different rules’ will serve you well.
- It’s not your job to make sure that your kids never feel any emotion other than happiness.
- Cereal for dinner is ok, it’s actually fun, and your kids will remember those evenings as the BEST ONES EVER.
- Just make parenting decisions based on your values, because there is no such thing as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. Your kids are going to hate you for whatever you chose at some point. It just needs to sit well with you.
- Let your kids challenge you, back down sometimes. It teaches them flexibility.
- Your kid is not a science experiment; you don’t need to play Mozart to them unless you want to listen to it. On that note, if your kids never listen to ‘kids music’ that’s ok too. It’s an added extra that you can choose to bypass. Many a child have been raised on Missy Elliot and Chilly Peppers, and they are just fine.
- Enjoy things for what they are, not what you want them to be.
- And then I would tell her that your life is IS about you. Birthing a child is the MOST ‘about you’ thing that you will ever do. Raising your babies IS about you too. Your needs are important, and it’s up to you to make sure they are met.