Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Owning It

I can write a list as long as my arm as to the things I've learnt being a mum. Like never going shopping with a tired toddler and never, ever using a swim nappy as a normal nappy. How you should never suggest a song no-one has heard of at playgroup or how to act when someone's little angel hits yours.  But of all the lessons I've learnt, there is one lesson that I have only just started to get to grips with, yet it is the most important of all. Owning it. 

When you become a parent, aside from the nappies and sick clear-ups, the thing you spend the most time doing is questioning yourself. You question what you are doing, if it's right or wrong, the way your parent, if you are doing something that is different than what someone else is doing.  

I breastfed Bee until she was two years old.  There.  That's it.  That should be the full sentence.  But it never used to be.  I can remember talking to a mum at a playgroup about our little ones, and I'd mentioned that Bee was still breastfed.  I could see it in her eyes she thought I was mad, I felt she was judging me, and so, without so much as taking a breath, I launched into how Bee only had two feeds a day and that I was planning on stopping soon.  I felt the need to justify my parenting.  I felt the need to explain my parenting choices.   

The same goes with thumb sucking.  Someone made a comment that my daughter shouldn't be sucking her thumb (don't get me started on thumb-sucking), and how did I reply? I told her this long winded tale of how I didn't give Bee a dummy and so she sucks her thumb and blah,blah,blah,blah.  

Again, I questioned myself and felt the need to explain.   

What should I have done in both of these situations? I should have owned it. Because I make the decisions that are right for me and my little one. And that's it.  Not the woman at playgroup.  Not the lady at the post office.  Me. And that's it. 

I've seen other people do it too.  I was talking to a new mum about her 3 week old baby and she told me this long story of how she really struggled with breastfeeding and her baby was now formula fed.  Now she might have been telling me to have a little chat or offload.  But I have a feeling that she, for whatever reason, wanted to justify her parenting to me. What I actually wanted to say to her is, that there is no need to explain (unless she wanted to).  That her baby was formula fed. And that's it. As long as mum, dad and baby are happy then that's it. No explanation needed.  

Now being a mum of two, I can't believe how different my two girls are and also how differently I parent them.  I never thought I would make different parenting choices the second time round, but I have had to.  LL is a completely different baby to Bee and our family has changed and evolved since Bee was a baby.  And I think that just shows how different parenting is. There is no set style or way to do it.  If we can't even parent two siblings the same, then how can we compare our style to that of others? How can we hold our decisions against those that others make? We can't. I think that's also why there's hundreds of parenting books out there.  There's advice galore on how to bring up a baby.  But all of that aside, you have to do what works for you.  But more than that, you then have to own it.

It's not just limited to being a parent.  I always remember someone asking me a question once about where I'd like to go on holiday. When I answered they completely rubbished my answer and made me feel like I needed to justify my choice! It really annoyed me at the time, and looking back on it, what I should have done is offer no explanation at all.  I like what I like, like you like what you like.  It all comes down to having that confidence in yourself. 

No-one else is in your shoes, so no-one else can judge your decisions. So own it. No apologies. No explanations. You're doing an amazing job. Know that and own it.  

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