There was a time, not so long ago, that I was childless. I was also a bit of a moron. I had this vision of the kind of mother I was going to be. I used to look at mums around me, quietly taking note of all the things they did that I most certainly was not, under any circumstance, going to do. Now I have a child of my own and I do absolutely all of those things.
Letting my kid be dressed inappropriately for the weather
Whenever I saw kids with no shoes on I would think ‘Gosh lady, that’s uncivilised. For goodness sake, put shoes on your child’. I now know that A) small children are generally pretty uncivilised by nature; and B) trying to put shoes on a two-year-old who does not wish to wear them is both traumatic and a waste of time because the moment you turn your back they will be off again. Same goes for socks, jumpers, jackets, hats and any other easily removable piece of attire.
Letting my kid eat processed, nutrition-less junk
This one lasted a while. Being a bit of a health-nut, I wanted her to eat really good food. There was no gluten or sugar in sight. She would share my green smoothies with me and had no idea what a Tiny Teddy was. Until one day someone gave her one, and now she seeks them out like a heat-seeking missile. My child knows exactly where the lollies are in any house we visit, I don’t know how, but she just knows. I even have to hide the chewable Vitamin Cs at home or she’d demolish them. She is no longer interested in my green smoothies and there are days that no matter what I put in front of her, all she wants is ‘toast with fresh butter, no crusts please’. So much for the gluten free zone.
Letting my kid sleep in my bed
Terms like ‘attachment parenting’ and ‘co-sleeping’ used to actually creep me out a bit. I was going to be ‘strong’ and teach my baby from the start that she had her own bed and that she needed to fall asleep without help from me. Ha! That lasted approximately five minutes. Watching my baby fall asleep in my arms was, and still is, one of my favourite parts of being a parent. I’m so glad I threw that idea out the door pretty quick. Yes she still wakes up in the night and climbs in bed with me, but one day she won’t and I will miss it like crazy.
Yelling, swearing, generally losing my cool
Oh, I was going to be the zen mum. The really calm one who would never, ever get cross with her child and yell, scream or threaten to take toys away. I was going to serenely kneel down and explain to her why a particular behaviour was not acceptable, rather than shriek like a banshee ‘I told you to stop that!!’ There was no way in the world I was ever going to utter a swear word in front of my child because hippy, zen mums don’t do that. Well as it turns out, this one does occasionally.
So, to all the perfectly imperfect mums that I judged, I’m sorry. This mothering caper is not as easy as it looks. I have learned that you have to pick your battles daily, and as long as your child feels safe and loved, that is absolutely the only thing that matters.