Friday, 10 May 2013

The comparison trap

Sometimes when you are a mother you compare yourself to others.  Not that I go out of my way to do it, but I do it.  The last few weeks have been very difficult for me, comparing myself to other mothers who are my friends on Facebook and they seem to do everything perfectly and are so crafty and fun they make me feel like crap.

So there I sat, feeling bad about myself because I was looking at so many cool things my friends were doing with their kids on Facebook.  Then I realised I'm not a shit mum because I don't do those things with my kids, if anything I'm a shit mum because I'm on Facebook looking at what other mums do with their kids instead of pulling my finger out and actually doing something with my kids, even if its just reading them a book, or drawing a picture with them.

I'm not a very crafty mum.  I don't have great ideas of what to do.  I'm pretty time poor and stretched between fulfilling the needs of 4 children.  So because of that, does that mean I'm a crap mum or just not a very crafty mum?  I don't remember doing craft with my mum and I don't think she was a crap mum.  She kept us in line, she had rules that we followed, we were allowed freedom to roam around the streets and play with our friends - the 80's were a wonderful time to be a kid.

So anyway, here I was comparing myself, and I told myself to snap out of it.  I'm not the same as every other mother, and that's ok because my kids aren't the same as their kids.  I've been following along blindly for too long now - just going along with what someone else chose for their child, without even doing any research on my own.  And its time I stood on my feet and realised that I can be a good mum without following along behind someone else like a little sheep.

Of course I can never change the decisions that I have previously made, and that I am ashamed of now.  I don't think I've always done what has been in the best interests of my children - because I was more certain of other people's opinions and choices than I was of my own.  And that's pretty crappy really, to have no faith whatsoever in myself.

4 children later and I've done so many different things - I've had elective c-sections, I've had drug free birth centre births.  I've circumcised my first son, I won't with my second.  I've bottle fed, I've breast fed.  I've done mushy solids at 4 months, I've done baby-led solids.  I've done CIO, I've done rocking and feeding to sleep.  I feel like I've done everything wrong all the time because I've never done anything instinctively, its always been because thats what someone else did, or because thats what I should do.

So this time around with our surprise baby (22 weeks along today) I'll be doing things more instinctively.  I'm having a home birth because that feels right to me.  Birthing at my local hospital doesn't feel right to me, that fills me with extreme dread and fear.  My home feels safe so that is why I am doing it - its a safer choice for me.  And in turn, my baby.

I need to stop comparing (because nobody lives my life and the daily struggles I have) and stop blindly following people - and just believe in myself.

If I can have the faith in my body to birth a baby safe and without harm, then why do I have so much trouble having faith in my ability to raise them properly?

The answer?  I shouldn't.  And I won't.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

The end

For the last couple of days, Bubbles hasn't had any feeds from me.  I know I'm lucky to get to 23 months of feeding, but I was so wanting to reach 2 years (recommended amount of time by the WHO).

I did better than any of my others - Sparrow was around 3 days before I gave up and went to formula, Coo was formula fed from birth, Speedy was fed both breast milk and formula for the first month and then onto formula.  So I know I've done a wonderful job.  She's never had a drop of formula, its all been from me until she reached one, and then she was having a couple of sippy cups of milk with the other kids, whilst still feeding up to 5 times a day from me.

So its sad that its ended.  I'm pissed off that its only ended because my milk has dried up.  I'm 12 weeks on Friday and I so wanted to go as long as I could to get her to 2 years.  But there is nothing there.

So now instead of feeding to sleep during the day, she'll have a sippy cup of milk and then go to sleep.  And the same of a night time.

Here's a quick reflection upon our time together, its a shame I don't have a photo of her at 23 months having a feed.

From her birth:

Out and about in the freezing Tasmanian winter (it was also raining):

When she was sick:

When it was her birthday:

And when she was a toddler (around 15 months here):

I took this the other week after she had fallen asleep - it was one of the rare feeds that she stayed on for more than 2 seconds like it had been since I had discovered I was pregnant.  I wish I had gotten a pic of her feeding instead of asleep afterwards.

Thanks for the memories Bubbles. Sorry it had to end this way.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Our own harshest critic

Most days I think I'm a pretty shit mum.  I'm happy to tell any friend that I think I'm a shit mum. I don't know why that is, so I thought I would look at it more in depth here on what is basically my parenting blog.

First I have to look at why I think I'm a shit mum.  Ok so I swear - a lot. I yell - a bit, more than I would like. I get frustrated, easily (which leads to point one and point two).  I don't in particular speak nicely to my children all the time. Sometimes I just want to be by myself without being interrupted every two seconds.

So. Reading that over, it would seem to me that I'm crap at coping with stress.  Really - that's basically what it boils down to.  I'm crap at that, and somehow that relates directly to my parenting ability.

So what is a crap mum - society would probably deem a crap mum to be someone who doesn't give a shit about her kids.  Someone who happily lets them play in the gutter with needles or some foul substance and not care if they catch some incurable disease or get really sick. 

Or maybe a mum that puts herself before her children - all the time - like, makes sure she is fed but the children go hungry (my children make that choice themselves, they never like my dinner I cook them).

Or someone who beats the living shit out of their children just for walking in the room because they can't stand the sight of them.  Or someone who doesn't bother using a car seat for their children because they don't care about their safety.

Or maybe a mum that doesn't breastfeed or use formula and instead uses some weird concoction of substances that looks like milk because she needs to feed her nicotine habit before her baby.

Would that all be considered a crap mum do you think? (these are just examples, I don't actually know people that do this)

So on the surface, it would appear that I'm not a crap mum.  I may not be a "perfect" mother, I don't do a lot of craft, I don't do a lot of reading or playing games.  I don't remember my mum doing that either but I don't care to be honest - what I care about is that I knew she loved me.  She would have yelled at me, and I would have gotten into trouble - and I can't remember any of that.  What I do remember is her hand on my head when I was trying to hide in her skirts when approached by a stranger.  I remember her sitting next to me for hours one night when I had made 2 litres of powdered milk and drank the whole lot and ended up with huge stomach cramps and a good dose of the runs.  I remember her sitting next to me on the cold toilet floor rubbing my tummy, rubbing my back - trying to take the pain away for me.

So hopefully my children remember the things that I do like that. I rub their tummy when they are sore. I give them cuddles whenever they want.  I share my bed, my food, my water although they backwash, I share my heart.

Hopefully my children will grow up remembering the things I can do well, instead of my crappy coping skills. 

I'll keep trying every day to get better at coping with high level stress situations, even if it means I have to count to 10 before I answer a child, to make sure I use a nice tone instead of a harsh tone.

To keep trying is to have a greater chance of success - even if it takes longer than expected.