Friday, November 5, 2010

You are not doing anything wrong


This revelation came to me when I was nursing my five month old daughter to sleep one night.

It had been a particular testing evening. My daughter and I had been regularly experiencing what my Aunt calls the ‘witching hour’. I was trying everything in my toolkit and nothing seemed to be working. I sat on the bed with my daughter screaming in my arms and wondered where I had went wrong. Why was she screaming and how had I caused it.

The myriad of conflicting advice I had received since announcing my pregnancy was running through my mind. Maybe I should have a better routine, maybe I should not be nursing her to sleep, maybe I should not be trying to put her to sleep, maybe her bed is in the wrong place, maybe maybe maybe. Then it occurred to me, a revelation that put me at peace…

"You are not doing anything wrong”

It has stuck with me ever since. Anytime I begin to doubt my choices as a mother I remind myself that I have not done anything wrong.

There is not right and wrong in mothering. There is no perfect  method that will produce a perfect child. There is only mums who make choices based on the very best of their reasoning abilities.  Next time you begin to doubt your choices or wonder whether you took (or ignored) the wrong advice, just trust yourself. You are not doing anything wrong.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What to do about anger


As a follow up to yesterday’s post about dealing with anger I would like to post an excerpt from Robin Grille’s book “Heart to Heart Parenting”.  This book is a must have in any parenting toolbox.

One of the times we most need the support as parents is when the travails of caring for a baby incite us to anger. Doesn’t your baby drive you made sometimes? Are you sure? Come on, let’s not romanticise: sometimes parenting can feel like a right royal pain in the tuches.  If you’re wondering why, then let’s have a quick reality check about some of the downsides of this venture.

Your baby asks more and more from you each day, without saying thank you, not even once. She makes you feel useless when she endlessly cries. She makes you wonder if you are really a bad parent. He has ruined your svelte figure. He has thrown a spanner in the works of your sec life. She wakes you up at night – often. She has snuffed out your night-time social life. You have never seen so much excrement in your entire life. You have never done so much wiping, and for your trouble, he pisses in your eye when you are changing his nappy. You feel drained, tired, unappreciated. And you are not angry? Tell me where you went to saint school, I want to sign up.

Meanwhile, the rest of us who are less holy get pretty pissed off sometimes. But we hide it from each other and smile out from under our pile of nappies and dirty laundry. It horrifies us to notice that we are feeling angry with our baby. It frightens us, makes us ashamed. Most parents bottle up quite a bit of anger. The internal guilt police blows the whistle: How could I be angry at such a beautiful and helpless creature? What kind of a monster am I? We bury our anger under six feet of syrupy denial. This suppression is not good for our health and it contributes to our exhaustion. What’s more, it takes a lot of energy to suppress anger. The worst thing about suppressed anger is that it can often come out later, explosively, inappropriately and even dangerously.

Suppressed anger is like a self-perpetuation vicious circle. Since we all feel so guilty and ashamed about the anger we feel as parents, we sometimes hide it from each other, and so we all think that everyone else is coping better than we are. It makes us feel even more ashamed when we look around and see how well all the other parents seem to be doing – and so we bury our true feelings even deeper.
Be reassure: some frustration and anger are a completely normal part of the parenting adventure. It is fine and healthy to feel angry. What is not OK is to think that your frustration is your baby’s fault. Anger can be safely and gracefully managed, whereas blaming a child is unjustified, injurious to the child and harmful to your relationship.


I would like to go on however I do not want to breach too much copyright. The book is brilliant and I thoroughly recommend it.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Beyond Reason


Last week a woman in the US pled guilty to killing her baby son. What made this international news (at least on the mum circuit) was that she did this after becoming enraged due to the baby crying while she was trying to play ‘Farmville’, a popular Facebook game.

Mums around the world have made their disgust about this very clear. Other mums repeatedly ask how this women can be allowed to be a mum. Expressing their disgust at the idea of a mum killing her own child, often asking how she could do it.


Modern mothering is hard work. The levels of self-control required are beyond reasonable expectations. Modern mothering is an isolated task. For the bulk of the day Mums look after their own children in their own houses on their own.

This story, albeit very sad, is not surprising, nor are the thousands of negative and disgusted comments that follow. What is sad is how few people acknowledge the role that modern society, and its idea of modern parenting, plays in this story.

Modern society expects and accepts a level of isolation that is beyond reason. When a mother becomes tired, stressed, angry, busy, lonely or any number of emotions that benefit from having another person around, they find that there is no other person. Modern Mums do not have immediate access to people who support them.

Rather than focusing energy on condemning this Mum, we need to spend it creating social change. As for how…. Well that is the focus of this entire blog.

NB. I have had this post on my mind for some time. It has been difficult to write. Not emotional difficult, but physically difficult. My daughter clambers all over me, hops down, grizzles, crawls off to play, comes back, tries to play with the power point, tries to play with my keyboard. This sounds cute, and today I am finding it adorable, however some days it is just incredible difficult to achieve anything. It is easy allow a negative emotion to fill my thoughts and some days I do. I am normal, you are normal, maybe even that Mum was normal….