The ugly bits of parenting

Since becoming a parent ten months ago, I have been thrown head first into the troubling world of neurosis. Parenthood is immensely joyous, I do not need to spell that out, because those feelings are abundant, obvious and welcomed. The neurosis however,  is unwitting, annoying and intrusive. It is a powerful enemy that has the potential to turn the most rational person (me) into a confused, panicked mess (the other me).

I have lived quite a lot of life, 36 years years of it to be precise. I don’t do panic and I don’t do stress. I’m not sure if it is the West Indian in me that finds it hard to muster up these negative emotions or sheer luck that I have been designed this way, but parenthood has without a doubt changed this. Never in my life have I experienced so much self-doubt (is my body really going to let me have this baby?), guilt (am I screwing up his future because I stopped breastfeeding at six months?), a bit more guilt (is the glass of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant the reason he has no teeth at ten months of age?) and worry (is this sweet old woman asking for a hug, really going to kidnap him?).

Love + happiness + neuroticism = parenting

This is one of the reasons why I stopped reading my birth club forums on the Baby Centre website – talk about neurosis overload. For every one sensible post, there follows another twenty crazy lady posts. Had I stayed away earlier, I would not have had the unfortunate experience of learning what V-Day is. Viable day – the achievement of reaching 24 weeks of pregnancy, knowing that if your baby was to be born prematurely it has more chance of surviving and is treated medically as a baby, rather than a foetus. Women were actually posting congratulations to themselves on reaching their V-day. Crazy ladies indeed. And apologies if I have just shared information with you that you has done nothing to enrich your life either.

Even in cutting out much of the crap, the neurosis is still skilled in placing a tight grip on those brain cells.  As I have progressed a little more into parenthood, now I don’t feel any surprises when the next wave of irrationality overcomes me – in fact, I welcome it, as experience tells me not to fight it. Just like they say about strong currents, don’t fight them, swim with them, endure them, ride them out and hopefully you will come out of it all right. Knackered maybe. Exhausted perhaps, but alive!

Love + joy + rationality= happy parenting

My latest trauma, is a new car seat for the little man. I am very behind in tackling this subject, if I am honest. His feet are already resting on the chair back of the car. I say resting, I mean pushing/kicking. I’ve been a bit loathe to look into it. Did you see the outrage that Princess Kate got for putting a swaddled baby George in his car seat? That’s my point. I’ve been reading about the benefits of rear facing car seats for babies 10 plus months old right up to the age of four because social media has bought it to my attention. I have read so much that I am now of the mindset that my baby will come to the worst sort of harm if I do not buy one of these very expensive rear facing seats. The guilt creeps in again. I hear the words ‘You can’t put a price on child’s safety,’ the annoying words that annoying people say. Yes, I’m afraid you can put a price on it. It’s called affordability versus absurdity.

I am not, by the way, saying that rear facing seats are absurd. I for one am convinced that they have a brilliant safety record, maybe better than front facing seats, as they suggest but this doesn’t mean front facing seats are unsafe, does it?I’ve read all the statistics about the Scandinavian countries where rear facing seats are compulsory. How marvellous for them! Those Scandies do every right, don’t they?

With everything that I feel about consumerism, I just can’t justify spending three times the price of a normal, perfectly safe car seat to buy a really, really safe rear facing one. Am I bad mother? Am I juggling my baby’s safety?  Am I tempting fate? It has gotten so bad that irrationality has got me praying to a God that I don’t even believe in. Or am I capable of fighting the neurosis by following my heart and my perfectly intelligent mind and doing what I think is right? Can I? Will I?

Answers on a postcard please.

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11 thoughts on “The ugly bits of parenting

  1. Only 10 weeks into my parenting journey I am still full of ‘the worry’. Today ‘the worry’ struck when my daughter fell asleep at 3.30 and slept through her two usual feeds and her usual daily highlight of bathtime. She continues to sleep now. Never before L arrived did I think I would get ‘the worry’ about my sleeping baby. I hope your car seat dilemma resolves itself soon.

    • Hey Mummy Morkus, thanks for sharing. It will get better. The worry will lessen as your daughter grows but every now and again something will present itself that has you in a spin. It doesn’t help that the internet is full of information, bad and good, but I think at the end of the day, dilemmas and worries aside, we know what we have to do and we always manage to get over the next hurdle that presents itself. x

  2. I don’t think the worry ever goes away completely, once you bring a little life into the world who you love unconditionally, your heart gets a bit raw & exposed! My Mum says she still worries about me and I’m 36. I agree about information overload and I try not to get advice from the internet about child rearing too much (never, ever google childhood rashes…you’ll be in A&E every 5 minutes). As for the car seat, nothing is ever 100% safe, but most modern car seats are very well-made and much, much better than not using one like my parents had to do in the 1970s and 80s!!

    • Beautifully put! My heart actually (literally) aches with love for my little man, that sometimes it must be hard for the head to rationalise what the heart is feeling! I know I will probably get a normal front facing seat but I can’t help feeling guilty that I am depriving him of something! Parenting, eh!

  3. Hi Mummy Morkus – As other commentators are saying – it does get easier! I have a four year old and a one year old and there was much more worry and neurosis the first time round for definite! Having said that we never bothered with baby monitors, angel safety cot mats or even stair gates (and not rear-facing child seats either) and our child is healthy, happy and has learned to act with caution (on the stairs and outside – we live on a main road) and I think that teaching your children how to be safe (even at a very young age) is invaluable and cannot be over-looked just by smothering them with expensive products that are very much marketed to sell to parents by instilling these fears and neuroses in us. As my mum told me recently we just used to sit on their laps in cars when we were babies! The very idea seems outrageous to us these days but it was the norm back then. Now we’re made to feel guilty for buying a very respectable Maxi Cosi (other brands are available!) forward facing car seat!! Its cotton wool parenting gone mad!! Trust your instincts and don’t let the marketers bully you into parting with your money unneccessarily.

    • Muffinmummy, you have said just what I needed to hear. A lot of it is down to commercialism and marketers laying the guilt trip on you. Little man is going to love his new forward facing seat, at last he can stretch his legs out properly!! Thanks for sharing x

  4. Hi there
    I love the honesty of this post. It rings so true for me and lots of other mums. I’m doing a ‘bad mums’ round-up for Britmums in September and would love to include your post. It’s not really about being ‘bad’ but more about the guilt, neurosis and self-chastising we all feel and do when we become mums and I want to include this kind of post which helps us all feel better about not being perfect, but being great the way we are. Let me know if this will be OK.

    • Thank you for your lovely comments. It would be an honour to be included in your round-up. I wanted the honesty to come across, yet to leave mums (and dads) feeling confident that what they are doing is great and guided by love and that staying strong with your own ideas, thoughts and principles is the best approach when something causes you to waver.

  5. Pingback: Bit of a rant on marketing to parents | And then the fun began...
  6. Found your post via the Britmums ‘bad mum’ round up and totally sympathise. My son’s 15 months. We bought the cheapest baby monitor on the market and that was it, then felt guilty when I met mums who had ones with videos and even motion detectors and all sorts of gadgets I’d never even heard of. Fast forward a while and a friend who had every gadget going admitted they were all a waste of time and they’d stopped using most by the 6 month mark. Now I can just feel a bit smug 😉

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! You are so right! As MuffinMummy commented a few comments back, a lot of it is down to advertisers and marketing people planning on peoples’ fears and then sitting back and seeing which parents suck it all up. Playing on peoples’ vulnerabilities.

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