Let me start this blog by saying I have HUGE respect for all parents out there. Mums, Dads, step-parents, Foster parents, Guardians….you get the drift. I love you all. You’re tremendous, but is it just me or are we part of a generation of paranoid parents?
I’m 32 years old and between my partner and I we have 2 boys, both 9. I know, it’s like I was lucky enough to not have twins then boom, you blend your families and the children gods laugh in your single child smug face.
I reckon my other half would be OK with me saying neither of us had a real clue about how to be a mum. It’s like ‘Hoorah I’m pregnant’ then fast forward 9 months ‘Holy shit what do I do with this tiny human?!’ Having spoken to many other mums, I know that I’m not the only person to have felt this way, and that in fact there really never is a time to be ‘ready’ for a baby. You can do all the prep, pee on all the sticks, track your cycle, buy the apps, but when it comes down to it, when the midwife plonks that little pink person on your chest this will roughly be your thought process:
‘Oh my god I’m a muuuuuuum’ (emotion emotion, etc etc)
‘Oh. My. God. I’m a mum’ (emotion, slight panic….)
‘Holy shitting God I am a mum. I have no clue what to do. This child won’t survive with me. I don’t even know how to cook an egg. What the fuck was I thinking?! Why is it looking at me? What does it want?’ (sheer panic/dread/fear)
All this before you even consider how ravaged your body is from bringing this wee guy or gal into the world. Natural birth? Take a moment and think back to the hours before giving birth, when your vagina was just a normal vagina, not a cavernous tunnel that is now on fire and will probably make you think you are dying when you go for a pee. For the mums who’s babies have not only given you heartburn for 9 months then decide there ain’t no way they are burrowing down and need to be taken out the roof, and you’ve now been told ‘Congrats it’s a boy! Now don’t move for 6 weeks’, do not add to the stress by giving yourself more things to worry about.
Of course it’s natural to have the fear. Despite this, and my complete lack of knowledge on how to ‘parent’, my kid made it to 5 with me looking after him, and for the last almost 4 years I have co-parented and managed to raise 2 regular kids. Yay, go me! Crap, the Mrs will be reading this, I mean ‘go us!’ Love you angel.
We had our kids pretty young, aged 21 and 23, and it would appear now that the baby boom of everyone we went to school with, our friends, other family members (read as, sensible people who at least attempted to get their shit together before reproducing) has happened. Facebook is announcing the arrival of a baby a month. Instagram is full of #newmum or #newbaby or #welcometotheworld all the while my head screams #howthefuckdoyouhavetimeforinstagram…
Then I see it. Enter the hashtag #paranoidmum:
‘Can anyone recommend the best video baby monitors so that I can see my child asleep in his/her bed from every room of my house, from every angle, at all times? #paranoidmum’
‘Can anyone recommend the best thing for colic? I’m afraid my babies wind is awful. Worst wind I have ever heard. Actually I’m just going to go to A&E…#paranoidmum’
‘What’s the best cream for nappy rash? My baby doesn’t have nappy rash but I want to be prepared with all available creams in case he does get it, although in saying that first sign of a rash and I’m off to A&E. Maybe I’ll go now and see if there is a preventative cream…#paranoidmum’
I get it. Parenting is scary. You have the major responsibility to successfully raise this child, keep him/her safe from harm and teach them well. It is on your shoulders if they get hurt, or if they are unhappy, but it is also on your shoulders if they grow up and have to have a badge pinned to them that says #paranoidchild. Crazier still is that many of the #paranoidmums that I have seen across social media have already had a child. They are on number 2, or 3, or some are really insane and have more, (I kid, power to you, you kick ass baby maker), yet this overpowering paranoia keeps slipping into daily life.
‘I’m leaving my kid for the first time in 2 years with his Gran overnight. Me and the hubby/wife are off out on a date. It’s going to be amazing.’
This is what they actually mean: we will eat dinner quicker than we ever had whilst staring at our phones and sending texts asking for updates on the health and wellbeing of our child forgetting that ‘Granny’ managed to raise one of us with no video baby monitors, bathing us in the sink, and letting us pick our noses. God how did we even make it this far? Change of plan, we are cancelling and staying home with a Chinese…
‘I wish my little darling would just let me sleep through the night. I can’t believe at 3 years old I am still up and down. Exhausted is not the word. I look like death today. They have had their feet in my face all night as per usual. They slept like a baby, me, I want to die…’
I mean, what the actual fuck? Are you having a laugh? Are you blaming your kid for the fact that at 3 years old they haven’t been taught that their bed is theirs and your bed is yours? No sympathy for you there pal! When questioned the response, in my experience, has gone like this:
‘Is there a reason the little darling won’t sleep in his own bed?’ (moron)
‘I’m not sure we have never tried it. Well actually, we did once, when he was 1, but he cried for 7 minutes so we didn’t think it was fair and just let him in with us. It’s lovely, we get to make sure he is safe through the night, and despite the fact he has peed on us 17 times and I regularly get 2 hours sleep max, I wouldn’t have it any other way…’
Fuck. Off. Get that kid in his own bed and teach him that feet do not belong in other people’s faces. Introduce him to that magical 2nd bedroom that cost you an extra £10k on your mortgage which holds the £2k of nursery furniture which includes a bed with hypoallergenic, spring soft, cushioned vitamin C enriched mattress that Granny is still paying off in preparation for his fucking arrival. In other words, you child will be fine in his own bed, in his own room, give yourself a break!
Parenting is a continuous learning curve. There are days when all you want to do is have your kid sit on your lap whilst you sniff the top of their little kid head and kiss their cheeks and smother them with love. Then there are the other days when you want to just smother them. The fact of the matter is, kids are resilient. Will bad things happen to your kid? Maybe. Is it likely? No. Will your list for Granny keep that baby any safer than when she is with you? No. Will your child die from crying that you have put them in their own bed? No. I mean, they might puke, but hey, lesson learned.
Give yourself a break. You brought a person into this world. You gave a child who needed it a home. You are already amazing. Time to scrap the #paranoidmum and replace it with just #mum. That’s what your kid needs. They don’t need pre-emptive creams. They don’t need to never ever ever be out of your sight. It’s ok if they binge watch their favourite cartoon just so you can do the laundry or have a shower. It’s ok to not always feel like a good mum, a good parent, but it’s not ok to not trust your instincts.
Paranoid mum? I’m just not having it.