Six Lessons Learnt in Motherhood
I try not to over think my capabilities as a mum; although nearly every day I will look at how I handled certain situations and wonder if I could have done it better. But lately, I’ve been comparing my overall ‘mum-ability’ now, after having my third child in March, to how well I ‘mummed’ when I had just had my first.
Here are some of the key differences that I think make me a better mum now than I was six years ago:
- I Don’t Listen to Advice
This is a big one, and if I could go back and tell my younger self this over and over then I would. I’m not saying that all advice is bad but you definitely need to apply a filter. There are generally three types of ‘advisers’ you will come across:
- The All Good Intentioners – these guys have their heart in the right place and will genuinely think they are helping. Usually advice from a Good Intentioner is sound and may be worth noting, but don’t worry too much if your ideas on weaning don’t match exactly – just smile and nod.
- The Show Offs – to be avoided at all costs. These guys aren’t looking to help you at all and just want to boast about their perfect children and how they made them so. Don’t get me wrong, we all love to shout about little Jimmy finally sleeping through the night but, if in doing so you are putting another parent down or making them feel like their parenting is inadequate. Don’t.
- The We’re In This Together Team – these ones are my favourite. Happy to give advice when needed but also there to moan to without the slightest ounce of judgement. Surround yourself with a community of these guys and above all else, make sure you are also one of them for others that need it.
- I Don’t Insist on Bathing the Boys Every Single Day
I now let common sense prevail here, if they are covered in sun cream, been running around soft play or are just generally grubby then yes, I would get them in the bath before bed. But if not, and it’s getting close to bed time or I’m just too tired, then they don’t get one. A simple wash after brushing their teeth does the job just fine. Gone are the days of bathing my three week old baby every 24 hours after he has spent the majority of the time in between doing nothing but sleeping. More importantly, gone are the anxiety ridden days of panicking that I may have sent my two year old to bed with a bit of yoghurt in his eyebrow.
- I’m Taking More Photos
I used to be terrible at taking photos and am still not a natural snapper. If we are on a day out, my phone will stay in my bag unless it rings, which I did think was a good thing as I was ‘living in the moment’ instead of through a screen. But, I am now trying to develop a balance of catching memories without being too absorbed to enjoy it firsthand. I’m not one for poses so now, if I’m watching the boys race around, play fight with their dad or even sat having a picnic, I’ll take a quick couple of action shots in the hope that I have captured a nice moment that we can stick on the wall at some point.
- I Let Them Get It Wrong
I don’t think I ever wrapped my eldest in cotton wool but there would be times when I have told him not to climb too high on the climbing frame or insisted that he’s too small to go on the big swing. This is virtually impossible to do with a two year old who just wants to copy everything his big brother is doing. So I just let them get on with it now (within reason obviously) and never tell them they can’t do something, instead I’ll help them find a way to do it.
- I’m Not Afraid To Accept Help
When I had my eldest, I was 21 and a single mum. I feel like I did a pretty good job considering but asking for help if I needed it would not have been an option and I took personal offence if anyone ever offered. I didn’t want anyone to think that I couldn’t cope or that I was struggling at being a mum. Now, I am massively grateful whenever a friend or family member asks to help out as I know they are doing so out of love and I wouldn’t ever want to be without that.
- I Am More Aware of Being a Role Model
This one is quite philosophical but one that I feel very strongly about. Children are so incredibly impressionable and I don’t think we realise our influence as parents until they are much older. Just think back to the time in the playground if ever you had a ‘my dad’s bigger than your dad’ argument. I remember genuinely believing that my dad was the strongest, bravest most invincible man that would help anyone and solve any problem and everyone else’s dad paled into insignificance. I remember thinking that no one could cook a Sunday Roast like my mum, that she gave the best cuddles and that she was the kindest and most loving mum on the planet and no other mum could measure up. This was probably the scariest part about becoming a mum myself, realising that there was going to be a little human being that looked up to me the way I looked up to my parents – what a responsibility! I have grown more and more aware of this over the last year or so and am consciously trying to be the best me for my children’s sake and most importantly, to lead by example.
So there you have it, I’m still not perfect and I will continue to critique my parenting skills daily but I am certainly a more relaxed, secure and happy mummy than I ever have been. If my fiancé reads this then yes, I am saying that I get better with each child and therefore, one more would be for the greater good...