Things I Wish I’d Been Told Before I Became a Mother

On average, I would say about 85% of parenting advice is completely unnecessary, unwanted or misguided. I also believe most parenting advice that is shunted your way does not always come from an honest place. This is a list of things I wish someone had actually told me before I became a Mother. This is NOT an advice column, it’s just what I would have found handy knowing pre-giving birth.

  1. Do not even bother reading any parenting books as they will only feed you with guilt and/or paranoia when your new born human baby does not do as the books say. If you do read any, please, please just take them with a massive pinch of salt.
  2. Try your utmost to enjoy the early days. Easier said than done I know, as you fight sleep depravation and leaky boobs, but they are so very precious and you will never get them back. Seriously, who gives a shit that they’re not sleeping and feeding at perfect intervals as before you know it they’ll be starting school and you will pine for the early days again. Possibly.
  3. And if no matter how hard you try you really don’t enjoy the early days, don’t sweat it. Nobody finds it easy. If they say they do, they’re lying or just numb inside. If you don’t enjoy these early stages, there will be other stages that you will enjoy. Some people suit different stages more than others.
  4. If you want to cry for no reason, then just cry. I didn’t have post-natal depression, but I had what is called “the baby blues”. When all the happy hormones left my body after giving birth, I crashed. I found myself overcome with emotion pretty much 24/7. I didn’t feel down, but I just wanted to cry. I think this was my body’s way of dealing with the change in hormonal balance and with the over whelming feeling that “CHRIST I AM ACTUALLY SOMEBODY’S MUM! I REALLY HOPE I DON’T KILL IT!”. I remember my lovely better half finding me in the bath crying when our baby was 2 weeks old. He seemed very concerned at first and asked me what was wrong. To which I replied, “I don’t know, but I can’t stop crying”. His response was just a casual “Ah I see, well if you want to cry, then just cry. Don’t even try to stop yourself. It’s all better out than in” and do you know what? He was so right. He treated it like it was something very normal and that’s because the baby blues are exactly that- very normal. It is something that you get through. I personally felt better by about 6 weeks after giving birth.
  5. If you feel you might have post-natal depression, feel highly stressed or the baby blues are going on for longer than you feel comfortable with, please tell someone. Anyone. Whether it is your partner, a friend, your Mother, the health visitor or even your hairdresser- tell someone. It is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, you certainly haven’t “failed” and it is far more common than you think. I was amazed to find out 2 years after my friend had given birth that she had suffered from PND soon after giving birth. This is because she hadn’t told anyone and had done a very good job of keeping it hidden. PND should not be kept hidden and should be treated like any other health issue would be. The more we are open about these things, the less social stigma there is attached to them.
  6. When it comes to breast feeding, don’t just do what you think is expected of you. If you want to breast feed until your child is 2 years old then good for you. If you decide early on that breast feeding isn’t for you then proceed with what is best for you and your family. If you tried desperately to breast feed, but for whatever reason it didn’t work out for you or just wasn’t possible for you to even attempt, then do not feel the remotest amount of guilt- just carry on doing what does work. Breast feeding is a very personal choice and should not be dictated to a woman by society. As long as your child is being fed regularly then it really doesn’t matter whether it is by breast or by bottle. They will grow to be strong, healthy children either way.
  7. If you do choose to breast feed, please exercise your right to breast feed in public and don’t ever give two flying fucks what anyone around you thinks. People offended by breast feeders are nonsensical and should just be ignored. Dicks.
  8. You officially cannot cuddle, kiss or tell your child you love them too much. The idea that you can is even more ridiculous than people who are offended by public breast feeding.
  9. It does not matter in the slightest when your child learns to walk or talk as long as they eventually do. No child wins a medal for learning to walk before they’re a year old. No child’s future is predicted by when they first uttered the word “Mamma”. This silent competition between new parents regarding who learns to walk, roll over, beg (hold on, am I getting children confused with puppies again?) first, seriously just has to stop. It’s boring and pointless. They will all get there in the end and you will be laughing about your concern for them learning to walk, when they start doing things like running into the middle of the road for kicks and you will literally cry for the days when they stayed put wherever you sat them down.
  10. The same goes for children learning to read and write. It doesn’t matter when they do it, as long as they get there eventually.
  11. Don’t listen to unsolicited advice. There will always be one relative or friend who will take it upon themselves to “guide you through parenting”. You can actually just walk away from their “advice”. The reasons why some people do this is multi-layered and are mainly just doing it to make themselves feel more important anyway. Unless you have specifically gone to them and asked for specific advice they have absolutely no right to tell you what you should or should not be doing with your child. They are not you, they haven’t walked in your shoes and they certainly aren’t your child’s parent. Screw them. Different routines or ways of doing things work for different people and families and it astounds me that some people still haven’t managed to work this out. The best parenting advice I was ever given? Ignore people who try to give you unwanted advice.
  12. Surround yourself with the right people. You will come across fellow Mums at babygroups/toddler classes/the school playground who will say things  to you that will make you feel shitty. Motherhood is hard enough without having to put up with someone trying to surreptitiously make you feel like a bad parent. You don’t need these “bitch-Mums” in your life. Move on from them and seek kinder souls. I find Mums who are down-to-earth, genuine, kind-hearted and with an all important excellent sense of humour are the best finds.
  13. There will be days when you wish you hadn’t become a parent. There will be days that you will be overwhelmed by how much you love your child. Both emotions are perfectly normal. Do not be scared of either reaction.
  14. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Being a martyr doesn’t benefit anyone.
  15. Do your pelvic floor exercises. I know you can’t be arsed, but just get and do them. You’ll thank me later.
  16. Some families will have more money than yours, possibly a lot of families will have more money than yours. I know this is stating the obvious, but these children from these families literally are not any better off than your own. As long as you are bestowing your child with love and affection, providing them with fairly well balanced regular meals, getting them outside as much as possible and reading to them, they will be children far better off than sadly the majority of children in this world. Everything else will just be a matter of doing your best and that is all you can ask of yourself.