But Can You Tell Me Again?

Friday, 30 March 2018


Rob will tell you that one of the things that pisses him off about me (and I'm hoping it's a short list but you know guys and how much they love to talk about stuff ha!) is that I'm constantly asking for reassurance. And that even if he tells me I'm on the right track, that agrees with what I'm doing or supports my decision, it still takes someone else telling me for it to finally sink in. And I get that it's frustrating. To him it probably feels like his opinion isn't enough, that I'd listen to someone else over him. But I guess for me, sometimes I think he just goes along with what I say because he loves me. Because he doesn't want to start an argument. Because it doesn't think it's worth butting heads over. 

I have realised, especially since becoming a parent, that I really need that reassurance. I crave being told that I'm doing the right thing, that I'm doing a good job. I think we all probably do to be honest. I mean, we've been thrust into this new job/position/world where we have no real prior experience, we're 100% responsible for a LIFE that is not our own, and we really have no idea what we're doing. So it makes sense that we want to feel like we're doing okay. And there are so many ways to parent, so many theories/articles/bits of research that contradict and support each other. At every plunket visit our baby is being charted, compared to other babies. Our parenting is questioned - Does baby sleep in their own bed? Do you want to hear about safe sleeping? What are their sleep habits like? Have they started doing this yet? We actually don't recommend baby-led weaning. 

Every time someone asks how parenthood is going it's - Are they sleeping through the night yet? Do you still let them sleep on you? Isn't that starting bad habits? You definitely need to toughen up and just let them cry it out. Are they crawling yet? Have they started sitting up? Don't you think they're a bit hot? I'm sure they'd rather be doing this than that. And it's hard to feel confident when you're constantly being bombarded by questions, judgements and expectations. You think you have it sorted, that you kinda feel like you know what you're doing and are happy with the parenting choices you've made when an article comes out and flips it all on it's head. Suddenly you're not so sure after all and are googling away to find some kind of reassurance that what you're doing is okay, that you're not causing problems for baby along the way. 

Rob tells me it's more on me than on them. That the media/society isn't going to change just because I want them to so I need to steel myself, be confident and just back the decisions that I'm making. And he's right. I do need to trust myself and us as a couple, that we've decided this is how we want to do things and if it's working for us, then there's no reason to doubt what we're doing. But when you're tired, emotional and unsure, it's pretty hard to find that inner strength to not let things get to you. Plus, one of my flaws is that I'm super defensive. I just don't like feeling like I'm doing something wrong! I generally strive to do my best in everything, and I do like to please people so if I feel that I'm not doing that, it really gets to me. 

I've also noticed this coming out in a lot of Mum's that I've been interacting with too. How's the sleeping going? Oh yeah, well last night he slept with us - but he was so grumpy and I was exhausted and I just couldn't think of any other way we could all sleep but he was totally fine and we all slept great so it was okay that we all slept in the same bed. Mama, you do you. So when he falls asleep on you, do you try and put him down? Well I have tried before but then he usually wakes up and I figure it's better for him to get a solid sleep on me then if I put him in the cot and then he wakes up and it takes ages to get him back to sleep but he's still so little so I don't think I'm starting any bad habits right? And anyway it's nice to have some time to just relax with him and I don't mind anyway. We can't just say what we're doing without feeling like we need to justify it. That we need to explain why we're doing something, just in case we get back lash or told that we're wrong. 

Rob is right though. It IS on me. It's on me to be confident in what we're doing. To reassure myself that the way we are parenting is what works for us and for Jackson and that's all that matters. That we're all happy and healthy, and that's because of the decisions we've made in terms of how we want to raise Jackson and work as a family. I do try and research, just because I don't want to be stubborn and purely follow Jackson's signals if there is potentially a better way that will benefit him and his development. I do think you need to find the balance between knowledge and instinct, even if it's just to make a decision that you can be more confident if what you're doing is backed by research that  believe in and agree with. I feel like I can truly stand up for myself if I really believe that I'm doing the right thing, because sometimes I don't. 

And Rob (yes you) also needs to understand that as a Mum, you are questioned. You are judged. And sometimes you just want your partner to agree (or not) with you, to read the articles, to show interest in the fact that you're trying to make sure you're taking the best approach and if they don't, to share with you what they think you should be doing. Team effort guys. It's new for everyone, just because us Mum's carried the baby for nine months doesn't mean we know better than you do (even though it might sometimes feel like we do). And when we feel backed, when we're reassured (and we might need it once a day, or sometimes ten) then we can be confident and say - this is my baby, my life, and you can just bloody well let me get on with things thank you very much.

So just bare with me Rob. Reassure me. Let me know that we're in this together. Be honest with me when it comes to parenting choices I've made and let me know if you think we should try something else. I'll get there. Of course I will. It's still early days. But eventually, the judgements will slide off, the expectations won't feel so pressured and I'll be able to confidently face people and stand up for our choices and decisions we've made.

PS. On the subject of sleeping and worrying about your baby cat napping during the day, I recently discovered this wonderful article that put my mind at ease and reassured me that following Jackson's signals was really just allowing his body to naturally do what it needs to do. I felt pretty proud of myself to know that my instincts were correct, that by following what felt right I was aiding a natural process. And now when people question his sleeping habits, I know for sure that it's okay he might not be sleeping how the experts say they should be. That he's behaving as he should and I've just gotta ride it out until he's developmentally ready to change.

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