I no longer feel the need to belittle someone because their trainers/hair/PE kit isn’t what me and my circle of friends consider cool (yes, I was guilty of that on occasion over a decade ago!). When I chat with friends now it has passed through the stages of bitching, boys, how to sneak out of the house on a Friday night to go to the under 18′s disco. For the last few years at least it has centred around more grown up (boring?) matters – university, the housing market, jobs, marriage…And now babies.
We have all grown up from our ‘cor, your trainers are sh*t, where’d you get them from? Tescos?!’ *snigger* *snigger* banter to buying most of our wardrobe (and probably the wardrobe itself) from Tescos without too much of a second thought. For a few years nothing in my life has been the least bit about competition. OK, since the ‘how many times a night do you get it’ days before we all married our significant others. Hey, I never said we were all classy!
But now most of my friends and acquaintances have all had babies. Lovely, gorgeous but very different babies. Important point that. Personally I found everyone very supportive on the whole during my pregnancy. It was the randoms on the street that bothered me then. Why is it acceptable to grope my belly just because I’m growing a baby in there?! Do I know you?! Get away from me!
But it was once babies started being born that there was a sniff of competition and strong opinion from some friends. There were mutterings of ‘just gas and air and he was out in one push. AND he was over 10lb’ from the hardened competitive among us. But to be honest, when I had just had Boo I was exhausted. With a capital EXHAUSTED. I was proud that having not been good at much throughout my life I had finally found something I could do well and she arrived quickly and with minimal fuss.
But I was not up for bragging. I looked a mess, hadn’t slept for what felt like weeks, was overwhelmed with the whole new person staring up at me and it took me at least 10 minutes to get from standing to sitting without yelping in pain. The last thing I wanted to be doing was bigging myself up about how my labour was amazing and really didn’t hurt and in fact I managed to clean the whole house, convert the loft, weed the garden and prepare meals to be frozen for a month before popping to the bathroom where the baby slipped painlessly out of me and into her crisp white (freshly ironed) babygro before falling contentedly asleep after an amazing first breastfeed. While whale song played in the background. Naturally.
When I was in labour I yelled to my midwife to ‘just pull her oooooooooooout NOW’. It was not a pretty experience. So, for all those who had a bit of a brag to me I thought, well done you. A 10lb-er out in only one push, jeez your *cough*…you know…must bloody hurt now. Can I get you a rubber ring to sit on? Some ice?
Labour competitivety went right over my head, I’m pleased to say. But then began possibly the most evil and gut wrenching argument of all time to the tired and emotional woman at the hands of baby blues. Breast Vs Bottle. Dum dum duuuuuuuuum.
This is an argument I’m not even going to shed any opinion on right now (saving that for another post!) but I’ll go so far as to say that I have used both methods of feeding. Because in MY opinion, I was doing what was right for MY baby at the time. Others disagreed. I wasn’t aware that formula milk was made my yanking on Satans teat.
Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and it is something that I want to encourage my daughter to grow up with. Opinions shape who we are sometimes, but are also there to be challenged or changed.
But in the same vain, there is a time and a place. Above all, there is a way of expressing your opinion in a way that respects others.
I did not take kindly to being labeled a bad mum purely because for various reasons I chose after several weeks of what I personally found to be a torturous experience of breastfeeding to offer Boo a bottle of formula.
The reason I sit here frantically typing away is that the competitive streak has just reared its ugly head again. The weaning debate has begun. It’s the new ‘breast vs bottle’ in the same way that whatever colour it is now is the new black.
People are slowly dividing into two camps, pledging allegiance to do everything they can to belittle their rivals. Traditional pureeing or baby led weaning, that is the question.
Boo is 20 weeks. Personally I don’t think she’s going to be ready for weaning for a good few weeks yet. She’s slowly starting to show signs but her (devils) milk is satisfying her and after having feeding problems with her since she was born I’m damned if I’m going to rock the boat. She’s a diva, I’m confident she’ll let me know when she’s ready. But for now I’m looking into the above two methods of weaning. I like to feel I have a small amount of control in the chaos that is my life and research helps me do just that.
But suddenly everyone is sticking their oars in.
‘Of course, MY baby was on three meals a day by the time he was 8 weeks old. Do you not realise you’re damaging your child from not giving her structured meal routines?’
‘You can’t possibly even consider that method of weaning, what a disgusting idea.’
And all intermingled with:
‘Is Boo not talking/walking/crawling/asking to use the potty/writing her own name yet?’
Bugger off! All babies are different. They are, after all, little people. All mummys and daddys are different. What works for one doesn’t for the other.
I am more than confident that Boo will be walking, talking, singing and dancing before she starts school. She can do everything in her own time and at her own pace, and once day I know she will be able to do it all. Why rush it all?
Please, have opinions. Offer advice. I for one have never done this before, I would be glad of it.
But understand that we ALL love our babies and only ever want what’s best for them. Don’t bark orders at parents just because something worked for you or your baby. Consider feelings, respect opinions and try starting the odd sentence with ‘have you thought about…’ every once in a while.
If I hear that I am going to scar my child one more time my brain will seep out of my ears.
I am yet to decide how to wean Boo, but at the moment I am planning on taking all my cues from her.
As the years go on, I am fully expecting my friendships with certain people to dwindle. Which I’m really upset about. I am also braced for the future smacking/naughty step/schooling etc etc debates. Oh, and not forgetting the ‘best groomed and most glamorous yummy mummy at the school gates’ competition.
Rest assured, I will not be taking her to McDonalds for her first taste of solid food. That much I can promise. But I will be the mummy in her pyjama bottoms and yesterdays make up rushing Boo off to school in 5 years time.