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Being a mother is not the most important job in the world but…

November 21, 2013 Bel's Blog, Parenting

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Let me start by saying I am NOT taking on Catherine Deveny.

I.AM.NOT.

And these are the reasons why.

1. Because I really like and respect her [as a writer and particularly after seeing her on the SBS program, Go Back to Where You Came From] and 2. Because there’s no way I could come out unscathed… so I pick my battles. VERY carefully.

But her recent article {here} made me feel uncomfortable. Just a bit, but uneasy nonetheless. To be fair, I agree with much of what she said and I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with her assertion that being a mother is NOT, by any means, the toughest job in the world. It does not compare to many, many other far harder/tougher jobs performed throughout the world – whether you’re a working mother OR a stay at home mother or a guardian or a father or a carer. She is right and most of the mothers I know would also concur.

However, if I was taking Catherine Deveny on [which I am not], I would argue that it is MORE than just a relationship. It is certainly a job to care for your children. I have a relationship with my sister but I’m not listed as her ‘In case of emergency’ person. The person most responsible for her is. Her mother is. And her father.

Do mothers actually say ‘being a mother is the most important job in the world’? Sadly, yes some do. Some sprout it at school coffee mornings and playgroup and on social media to justify their own decisions, yearnings, sacrifices and losses. However, most [that I know at least] do not.

In fact, the most common declarations I hear in my circle are:

“Being a mother is the most boring/relentless/exhausting/thankless/rewarding/mundane/gratifying/shitfully draining job I have ever done” And I would not be talking out of school to say that I have heard that all said over the period of one night with a group of mothers playing hookey with a bottle or 4 of sav blanc under their muffin tops.

I personally have said all of that. One trillion times. I have also said this. Being a mother is the most important job I HAVE EVER DONE. Because it is true. Because I have never had to run a country or be a judge or perform brain surgery or research a cure for cancer or counsel a child who has been abused. Because in my entire life, I have NEVER done anything more important than raising my kids. More stimulating? Sure. More respected? Probably. Critical to the bottom line of a business? Yep. Better paid? Abso-f*cking-lutely.

But more important? Not to me. Not to my husband. And not to my kids.

And this is where it all gets a bit grey for me. For… whilst I agree that being a mother [or carer or father etc, etc] is not the most important job in THE world, I believe that raising good people IS. Our children are the next generation of our world. They will grow into adults who will become the caretakers of our universe and our animals and our cultures and our history and the generation of children to follow. So with that in mind, ALL that are involved in this vital function of our future should also believe that it is, in fact, incredibly important. If there is a parent or carer or guardian [of any kind and regardless of how they came to be one] who has committed to taking their ‘job’ as the most important in their life,we should support them – NOT tease them.  Not try to ‘out’ them or ‘outdo’ them.

It is our job, our responsibility and our obligation to do our very best to raise our very best.

Is it not?

 

If you like this, check out these other great posts from Seventies Baby:

This post originally appeared at Seventies Baby – a gloves-off perspective of womanhood, parenting and modern family life in a world obsessed with being perfect and politically correct. It has been republished with full permission.

You can (and should!) follow the blog on Facebook here.

 

 

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Please note: Another seminar on ‘Breastfeeding: The Joys and Challenges’ is being held on Wednesday 7 August at the Hopgood Lecture Theatre, Noarlunga http://breastfeeding7august.eventbrite.com.au

10 Parenting Rules – and I broke them all

cosleeping with my firstborn

Confession.

I was one self-righteous, know-it-all bitch Before Children [BC]. It’s true. I knew it ALL. Anything wrong with a kid? It’s their mum’s fault. Sometimes their dad’s. But mainly mum… because she CHOSE the dad after all. In my, far from humble, opinion parents were entirely responsible for everything their kids did, thought, said and broke.

And I knew WHY. Those parents didn’t FOLLOW THE RULES. There are rules in parenting that will guarantee a perfect child. Simple rules that I would often remind parents, even when they hadn’t asked, to help them. To guide them. To fix their brat.

Rules I swore to myself I would uphold. As the perfect parent embarking on raising the perfect child. *Insert wild, unhinged laughter here.

#1 – I will not use a dummy

It took me less than a week to let go of that one. Oh sweet, sweet dummy. How I loved the feel of you in my hand as I groped in the bassinet next to the bed under the blanket of darkness in the dead of the night to plug the screaming hole of my first born son. I brought a packet of them to hospital when my second son was born. I BEGGED him to take it. I tried every shape and size, even coating them in breast milk to TRICK HIM INTO SUCKING IT. Be careful what you wish you for. Turns out with number two I WAS the dummy. Take that you pious bitch.

#2 – My child will never sleep in the same bed as me

It’s the second night of my life as a new mum and the midwife offers to take my screaming newborn to the nursery with all the other babies so I can get some sleep. ‘Ok’ I said as I watched her wheel him out of my room, ripping my heart out as she did. He was gone 15 minutes before I went to get him. This is how Mark found me when he got to the hospital in the morning. I promised myself it was just to get us through that one night.

Ahem. You know that feeling when you haven’t slept for 3 months and you’ve got up so many times in the night that you can’t remember putting the baby back to bed… where is the baby?? Did I feed him last time or just change his nappy? Did I feed on both boobs, or the same one twice? Why is he crying? Shhhhhh… rock, rock…. shhhhhhh… rock, rock…. shhhhhh rock, rock. Oh forget it, just lay next to me. THAT was how I broke rule #2 at home. And how, 8 years later, I simply just move over when I hear the sound of my 5 year old’s bare feet padding down the hall to my room in the middle of the night. He’s warm and cuddly. It gets a bit crowded when the 8 year old joins us every now and then, but I don’t turn him away either. Still feeling smug Tan?

#3 – I will not ‘pick my battles’. Every battle is worth it… and they need to learn that I’m the boss

Aahahahahahahaha. Ow, my sides are splitting. Dear BC TAN. You were an idiot. There are sooo many battles that have never been fought, won or lost here. Yes, you can wear your swim rashy on top of your jumper because it matches your rubber boots to the shop. Why not? Yes, you can take every teddy bear you own to bed because they will be sad without you tonight. Of course. No, you don’t have to eat the toast that I accidentally cut into triangles instead of squares. I understand it doesn’t taste the same. Just don’t cross me at bed time. That’s not negotiable. Most of the time.

#4 – I will not use food as currency to bribe my child

Well… what kind of values does that teach? I never understood the power of a promised [insert biscuit/yoghurt squeezy/ice-block/cupcake/smiley-face biscuit here] to ‘encourage’ a wilful kid to do just about anything really. Parenting Tip: carrying around any number of those bribes in your oversized handbag can make or break a public outing.

#5 – I will only feed my child organic, additive-free food

What?? Best intentions and all that…. My kids actually eat well. I’ve been pretty good at keeping their diet healthy. Additive-free is a stretch though and only organic? I’d have to take out a second mortgage to pull that one off. I have fed them McDonalds too. Oh the shame….

#6 – I will limit my child’s television viewing to no more than 30 mins per day

Oh don’t look at me like that. How was I to know that I would do anything to have an uninterrupted telephone conversation or cook dinner without tiny ‘helping’ hands or do a poo on my own or just sit and be quiet?? And with the new ABC stations there’s ALL DAY kids shows WITHOUT COMMERCIALS. The cheapest babysitting you’ll ever find. And you get to have a perve-fest on Sportacus. Eye candy eating sports candy… hmmmmm.

#7 – I will not ‘give in’ to my child’s constant nagging for something at the supermarket cash register

Unless I’m on my own with the kids and everyone looking has a grimace/scowl/frown/look of pain or pity on their faces. Oh wait. That’s every time.

#8 – My house will always be spotless… because that’s all I have to do. Look after my child and clean my house. Easy.

Yes, I’m shaking my head in disbelief too. One time while the tv was babysitting so I could enjoy one of my uninterrupted phone conversations, my, single, super-neat friend said to me “I spent all morning cleaning and my floors are so spotless you could eat off them” I looked around in despair and replied “You could eat off mine too… ‘cause that’s where all the fucking food is”

#9 – I will never yell at my child. Yelling is just a loss of control reserved for incapable mums

Yes. I was deluded. I yell at the tv when someone’s annoying. I yell at bad drivers on the road and cyclists who forget that they’re sharing the road with bad drivers. I yell at my mum, my sister, my brother, my husband. I yell at the PLAYROOM when it’s in a mess. I yell at weeds when I pull them out and the root breaks off and stays in the fucking ground. I yell at my cupboard if I’m out of coffee. How the hell I thought I would EVER not yell at my kids, who drive me insane, still astounds me. I yell. They look alive. I buy myself 2 minutes peace. They go back to whatever it is. It’s a loud, predictable dance.

#10 – My child will not dictate my schedule. They will fit into my life, not the other way around

Oh.. shut up.

This post originally appeared at Seventies Baby – a gloves-off perspective of womanhood, parenting and modern family life in a world obsessed with being perfect and politically correct. It has been republished with full permission.

You can (and should!) follow the blog on Facebook here.

 

The Truth About Milestones

parenting advice
I’m at a kid’s party. Lot of mums are there. Mums with babies. In slings. In their arms. Sitting at their feet on the floor. I make my way over and say hi to one of them. Gush over their baby a little bit and tell them how cute they are. I ask how old their baby is. And the flood gates open up. “They’re 9 months old, but they look older because they’re on the 90th percentile for weight. They should be crawling by now but they just can’t seem to get it. What age did yours crawl by?” I look at her like a deer in the headlights. I can’t remember.

My sons are 6 and 8 years old. I can’t remember when they crawled. I know they both walked at 12 months. They talked at different times. Rolled at different times. Sat up at different times. One slept through the night and the other one NEVER has. Both natural births at 38 weeks. Both breastfed. One came out of me talking and the other one took aaaaages. One had a dummy and the other one refused, no matter how much I begged him.

I was totally consumed with every milestone of my sons’ infancy and toddlerhood. I knew where they sat on the spectrum of development at any time and furtively watched other kids their age at parks and parties and kindergym. Comparing. Sometimes quietly smug that my kid was doing so much better than the others. Sometimes aghast that everyone else’s kid was doing so much better than mine. It’s a terrible stressful time during which I judged my own performance as a parent by the weekly and sometimes daily [‘cause it happens that quickly when they’re babies] achievements of my kids. I remember the time but I don’t remember the details and I don’t remember the details because, here’s the thing… THEY. DON’T. MATTER.

Don’t get me wrong. Milestones are important for broad monitoring of whether or not there is an underlying learning disability or developmental delay for your baby. And if your child is repeatedly not reaching any of them and you have a feeling in your gut that something’s not right, take them to your GP or paediatrician or Child & Youth Health. But guess what? If your kid is just not keeping up here and there with the mothers’ group kids, it’s ok. And I say ‘it’s ok’ because I know that to be true.

Dear new mum, all that stuff that’s consuming you is not going to matter once your little one is in school. I don’t expect you to listen to me, I certainly didn’t when other mums told me, but it’s my duty to tell you nonetheless.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Trust your instincts and if they’re a bit fuzzy, DON’T turn to the kids you see in the playground to measure your child[ren] by. Every kid truly is different and let me tell you why. It’s because every mum is different.

So little Johnny didn’t roll at the same time as little Sammy. How important do you really think that’s going to be when they’re in the class room together? Little Kylie could count months earlier than little Sophie but that doesn’t mean she’s going to be a maths whiz in grade 5.

I know this all to be true but I still have to give myself this same advice even today. Drawing on what I know from my time as a mum to babies and toddlers I have to stop myself when I become obsessed with whether or not my child is at the same level as everyone else right now. I tell myself to take a step back and not get caught up in the school mum hype. It’s not easy but luckily I have friends with kids who are older than mine and they keep it real for me too. It’s a vicious cycle of self-doubt, comparison and judging but take it from me it’s not the stuff that matters.

The stuff that I DO remember involves a warm baby’s head nuzzling in my neck. I remember the feeling of joy I had when my boys took their first steps. I remember the sweetness in my heart when I heard them first say ‘Mum’. I remember the laugh in my belly when I first saw them clap their hands. I remember love.

But milestones? Sorry. No idea.

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