I am mother to an eleven month old. And I am not a bad Mammy. But it seems that I spend my days berating myself and telling myself that I am. This I know and I do it anyway. I’m not the only one.
From day one there is pressure. Baby should be doing this, new mum should be doing this. Do or do not, there is no Try, or at least that is how the system makes you feel. If you’re not breastfeeding, you’re awful. If you are, you’re not doing it enough/doing it too much. You’re spoiling that child. Let him cry. He’s too small. He’s too big. And it’s all down to you, Mum.
The baby books don’t have a chapter in them about the unsolicited advice, much less the unsolicited criticism. Upon realising that my baby brain had made me forget a hat for my babies head, I already felt bad enough – I didn’t need the tuts or the “Is that child’s head not cold” that I got from certain passers-by as I walked around town. However, I doubt they intended to set off my brain in a spin of telling me all of the things I should be doing in order to be a better mother.
The Mammy guilt is very real. When I’m in work, I feel guilty for missing time with my child. When I’m at home from work, I feel I’m setting bad example, that my son should see me a certain way. I know he sees me as Mammy, food source and fun-ruiner (I’m the one who rules bed time, Daddy is the one who is great craic). Even that leaks out some negativity – by putting my child to bed I shouldn’t be seeing it as a negative thing, but unfortunately it happens, against my will.
I feed my son organic food(mostly). I try not to give him too many snacks, and try to give him too many cuddles. He drags himself around the floor and I watch and pray that I’ve moved everything dangerous or even potentially edible out of sight, out of his way. We go for walks, and I talk to him as he babbles away, throwing the odd almost-there word in every few minutes. I cuddle him close to me at 4am when he wakes up crying because his teeth are at him, and when I’m sad, I think of him smiling up at me when he wakes up.
I am not a bad Mammy but my mind tells me I am. I’m not a bad Mammy, but society from time to time throws its boot in and tells me I am. My child has seen three series of Bob the Builder in his eleven months, thus breaking the “No TV before 2 years old” rule (and also leaving Mammy and Daddy with a serious pity party for poor Friend-Zoned Wendy).
I stopped breastfeeding long before six months, and started him on solids before then too. I no longer baby-wear, and the last time I did was in a carrier that didn’t have as much support as it maybe should have for his hips. And sometimes I hear him crying, at night, and wait that extra few seconds to see if his Daddy hears him first and gets up to tend to him, in the hopes that I can snatch five minutes more sleep. I feel bad, temporarily, for all of these things. But society has no right to make me feel worse for them. I am not a bad Mammy.
I am trying my best, and I am a work in progress. My child is a perfectly formed little warrior, and I feel very lucky to have him. I’ve had my battles through my pregnancy and early days of bringing up baby, and now almost a year in, looking back, I can say “Not a bad job done”. For everything I berate myself with, every rod I make myself to beat myself with; there is something else to show me that I’m not failing at this. It’s important that we as mothers (or fathers) do realise that we are actually not just coping, but we’re doing well. If we’ve got children who are fed, who are happy, who love nothing more than our cuddles and our presence in their lives (except maybe Peppa Pig), then we’re not doing a half bad job.
I’m not a bad Mammy. And neither are you. Just remember that.
BadMammy is on Facebook, continuing to document struggles with Paw Patrol addiction and an endless flow of requests for pears…. come join the fun!