I’m the mum.
I’m a bit of a hero.
I really don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m giving it a good go.
It’s kind of hard to know if you’re doing a good job when one person is telling you to co sleep and the other is dead against it.
Its confusing when your doctor says its OK to feed your baby solids from 4 months old but your friends tell you to wait till 6.
It’s hard to gauge what’s “right” when what worked for the first kid, doesn’t work for the next and your mum doesn’t agree with what your midwife said.
When my 3 year old throws a tantrum in the super market and lays himself across the aisle in protest, it’s hard to know if you’re doing the right thing when one person shakes their head when I pick him up and someone else is glaring at me for letting him cry it out.
Welcome to parenthood. It’s the most judgmental place in the world.
You’re not going to get it right.
Even when you think you are – someone will tell you otherwise, because we’re dicks like that.
But I have a secret.
I am assisted by a universal parent magic.
It’s called a shit-shield and it protects me from the eye-rolls, headshakes and pointed fingers of the people who think they know best.
It helps me figure out what works best for my family – which may or may not be what you agree with, but I don’t need your approval because just watch me handle this shit.
Having a shitshield means that I will give no fucks when the neighbour down the road informs me that, in her day “kids didn’t watch so much TV”. Nice try. Your kids didn’t have a TV till they were twelve Mary, fuck off.
It means I will give not a single shit when someone tells me that chicken nuggets are not a food group or that my children are going to grow up to resent me because I let them cry.
I know that a lot of people think I’m cracked for letting my 9 year old bike the 700 metres to school on his own, but guys, I’m just kind of sick of fighting the other bunch of people that think I’m mad for not letting him do it sooner.
A lot of people believe they are well-qualified in proper parenting techniques and will ram that shit down your throat. They may say things like “you’re selfish for going back to work, children need a stay at home parent.” But there is a difference between “knowing ones stuff” and just being fucking arrogant.
Im doing what I feel is right and so far; that seems to be working out OK for us. My kids are still alive and functioning. No one has spontaneously combusted just yet.
The shit shield is a necessary tool developed when raising children to help you repel societies sideways glances and fend off the unsolicited parenting advice that is hurled at you from every angle.
It will deflect your mother in laws disgust in the name you picked for your wee cherub and your Aunties stance on controlled crying.
It will resist your friends’ constant attempts to get you to encapsulate your placenta when you’ve already said you don’t want to and can be used to beat the living shit out of those people who tell you to “sleep when the baby sleeps”
Your shitshield is designed to help you tap into your maternal intuition and instinctively do what’s right for you by shielding you from the noise of the outside world, and all the contradictions you face in your parenting choices, every day.
The kryptonite to your shitshield however, is self-doubt.
Inevitably your shield will crack under the weight of it and you become vulnerable.
The kind of vulnerability that comes with handling situations you’ve never dealt with before;
Like when your kid comes home from school tormented from bullying and you want to tell him to punch that kid in the throat but you also want him to know you don’t condone violence.
Like the kind of vulnerability that comes when you’re clutching an overheated baby to your chest at 2am and she’s not getting worse but she’s definitely not getting better.
When you tell people you’re raising your kids as vegetarians
When you go on holiday and leave your kids at home
When you let them play contact sport
When you have an elective cesarean
When you don’t let them play contact sport
When you let your son get princess face paint or when you admit that your kids have both slept in their own rooms since they were 6 weeks old.
The kind of vulnerability that comes with being told that the choice you have made for your family is wrong.
Nobody is on the same parenting journey as you. Everybody is doing something different.
Just because someone doesn’t agree with what you’re doing, that doesn’t make you wrong.
Self-doubt makes mayhem of us.
Whenever I start to doubt myself, I remember that I have taught 2 boys how to use a toilet and that’s something I’m not even technically qualified for.
When something goes wrong or the forces of the adult world conspire against me to make me feel like a sub-par parent, I take refuge in my don’t-give-a-fuck-fort.
No one can get to me in there.
I look at photos. I look at their happy faces. I think about when my son was being loaded into an ambulance and he took the opportunity to tell the paramedics he thought they were doing a great job taking care of him. I remember when someone asked me for advice because apparently it must look like I know what I’m doing occasionally. I remember when a lady I didn’t even know, told me I was fantastic and how my kids always share when it counts. I think about how my son cannot understand why there are hungry people in the world and how much that matters to him.
Even when they are getting things wrong, there are still a whole lot of things they are getting right and I remember that also applies to me.
You will make mistakes. You will fuck something up and you will do something you may never forgive yourself for because that’s parenting and that’s every parent.
Be open to new information & ask for advice when you need it but trust yourself more than you doubt yourself. Do what works for you and fuck what anyone else thinks.