The past 20 weeks of pregnancy has got me thinking and reminiscing about what I know now that I didn’t know before I had Elliott back in 2011. In particular, it’s got me thinking about some common parenting taboos that I was well aware of before having Elliott but which I’ve since come to realise are pretty ridiculous and often inaccurately portrayed on the internet and society.
Pictures of perfect families, happy people, women looking like they’ve stepped out of a salon and visit with a fashion designer all with a baby in tow, clean and organised homes, how much women love breastfeeding, that being a stay at home mum is great fun…. it’s often not what it seems. People tend to only emphasise the good things and omit the realities behind what they are portraying. It’s false advertising and puts undue pressure on new mums.
I think this is why I’m so over excited about little miss coming this July because I couldn’t give a rats arse about parenting taboos anymore, I’m comfortable admitting them and the fact that I’m real and far from perfect.
So I bet you’re wondering what taboos I’m talking about? Well, you’ve most likely heard of them.
You can’t say you didn’t fall in love with your baby in the very first minute
If you did fall in love with your baby straight away, that is absolutely wonderful. The thing is, I didn’t fall in love with my baby straight away but I thought you were supposed to. And because I thought you were supposed to, because it was all everyone seemed to talk about, it threw me into deep depression wondering why on earth I hadn’t bonded with my little baby yet, like there was something utterly wrong with me. There was no way I could tell anyone how I was feeling, it was my little secret that I hoped would pass. What did happen after I gave birth to Elliott was the feeling of pain, pain and more pain, my placenta being delivered, exhaustion, more pain, tiredness, more pain, worry, thirst….just no gushing love feelings.
But do you know what? I did come to love Elliott. 4 and a half years later and I love that same little boy I gave birth to unlike anything else in this entire world. I cannot put into words how much I love him. I don’t believe in the fact that you either love someone or your don’t. Love is a process, love builds.
You can’t talk about how lonely having a baby can be
I didn’t talk about how lonely I was because I was worried that other people would think I was a horrible mother. Who on earth would be so lonely looking after a gorgeous baby, come on?
I WAS damn lonely, one of the reasons I started this blog as The Multitasking Mummy was because I was both lonely and bored. My post natal depression put a halt on me feeling comfortable getting out into any type of social group so I found myself constantly lonely at home with a child that could not speak.
Fast forward to 2016 and I’ll happily tell people I’m lonely if that’s the way it goes. Of course, it’s normal to feel lonely. Most of us mothers go from working to being at home with a baby, immediately cutting off our connections. It’s so easy to feel disconnected, shut out and isolated. The thing is, no one tells a new mum about the being lonely part. No one told me, yet, I think it’s such an important piece of advice for new mums to hear!
You can’t talk about your miscarriage
I’ve never quite understood why talking about miscarriages was such secret women’s business, at all. But, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel like a failure and feeling like I hadn’t done something wrong to lose my pregnancies.
To me, it all centres around when it’s the right time to tell people you’re pregnant. I’m a big believer in telling my family and close friends early, before the 12-week mark, because they are the people I’d want there to support me through the tough times if a miscarriage were to happen. And that they did.
When I wrote about my miscarriages, here, here and here, I was amazed at the stories that came flooding in from other women. It’s as though I’d opened the gates, we could relate, it felt reassuring, I learnt that miscarriage, even though rarely talked about, was so common yet so traumatic. To me, talking about miscarriage, although emotionally painful, is also emotionally empowering and a chance to let some of the pain escape.
You can’t say your “average happiness” has declined
Now this taboo is interesting because I think many people would say their average happiness HAS declined (which is perfectly fine if you think it has), yet, I feel mine hasn’t since becoming a mum. Who knows, it may rapidly decline when I have baby number two!
The way I look at my happiness since becoming a mum is that I’m happy about different things, different things ‘fill my cup’ compared to what filled my cup without kids. Pre-kids I was happy going out, drinking with friends. Fast forward to today and that wouldn’t make me happy, what would make me happy is sitting at home with my husband, watching a movie in my PJ’s. In both stages of life, I’ve probably experienced the same levels of happiness and unhappiness, so they’re kind of even.
I think the difference when it comes to my happiness as a mum is that the process of becoming and being a mum has meant I’ve learned a new level of appreciating things and taking fewer things for granted, my perspectives have shifted to ones that are more positive and optimistic and I now place importance on different things.
The most important thing I’ve learned 4 and a half years on in motherhood? It’s OK to talk about and share the good, the bad and the ugly of being a parent. At least, if we do that, we can all start to feel a little more normal and can hopefully start to put less pressure on ourselves. But, also remembering that there will always be the ‘perfect parents’ out there, or what we perceive to be. I think it’s just important to remember that you just don’t know what’s going on behind that seemingly perfect facade.
So, can you admit to any of these so called ‘parenting taboos’? What parenting taboos do you think are a load of rubbish?