Christmas and New Year were great but I have to say it’s a relief today to stop the over-indulgence and get everyone back into a routine. I liked getting them all to bed early last night, sending our eldest back to school with a healthy(ish) packed lunch and not feeling pressured into letting them have chocolate for breakfast.
I hope my kids have enjoyed the late nights, junk food and too much TV over the holidays because it’s back to Mummy Bootcamp today; twenty press ups before breakfast, porridge with water and school shoes shined so I can see my face in them.
I’m joking, obviously, but it’s pretty much how I envisioned myself as a parent before I had kids. They were NEVER eating junk food, TV would be rationed and under no circumstances would they be allowed a dummy.
Then again, I’d also planned what sort of birth I would have; I just knew I would have a perfect labour that would require little or no pain relief, definitely no intervention and perhaps just a little bit of pretty perspiring. I would have whale music playing in the background whilst I pushed attractively in full makeup, would look lovingly at my husband throughout the entire magical, beautiful experience and bond immediately with my baby.
Approximately nine months later, after sweating and struggling (NOT attractively) through a back labour, finally requiring a spinal block, forceps and ventouse in theatre with only the sounds of my grunts and groans as background music, I began to think that keeping a more open mind about how I would parent for the next few decades might not be a bad idea.
Despite having told my husband, between contractions and through gritted teeth, that this would be our first and last baby because we were NEVER having sex again, I obviously went on to have our other two boys and their births WERE beautiful and magical, if not perfect.
I’d also fully intended to breastfeed each child for AT LEAST six months, possibly a year, and I would feed on demand, wherever I happened to be. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Yeah, right. Our eldest son DID demand (a lot) and I fed him whenever he did, but only from one side so I expressed a lot of my milk and as a result I didn’t get dressed until three in the afternoon; after twelve weeks of not going out and my husband calling me ‘Daisy’ because I constantly had a baby on one boob and a breast pump on the other, I finally admitted defeat.
With our second son I managed a textbook, stress free four months of feeding and then came to the happy conclusion that I’d had enough and he was thriving, so I weaned him onto formula.
By baby number three, I thought, I’m a pro, it will be easy and he’ll take to breastfeeding like a duck to water. Not so. I knew all about positioning, I was calm and focused, but we just couldn’t manage it. Maybe it was having a toddler and a five-year old already, but the breastfeeding lasted a month.
I didn’t sweat it this time, though, because my mind-set was different. I had learnt to compromise and I told myself firmly that some breast milk was better than none and I had tried my best, so I refused to feel like a failure.
It was the same with dummies. I was determined our children wouldn’t have them because they can make teeth stick out, hinder speech development and look unsightly. Yep, but when you have a crying baby and you’re running on empty, sometimes that little piece of plastic is the only thing that lets you hold onto your sanity because as a lovely midwife once told me, ‘A happy mum equals a happy baby.’
So for me, compromise is an inextricable part of parenthood; because whilst having children is amazing, life changing and an honour, it’s also hard work, frustrating at times and a long way from perfection. All any of us can do is to try our best and hope they won’t need too much therapy when they’re older. 🙂