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Do you ever have “one of those” days? The ones where strange things keep happening and you start to take it all a little personally? As a parent, I have those days on and off all the time. The exact same events could play out on any given day and you can laugh it off and think, “Well, that was hilarious! Carry on, then!” and on another day those same events can feel like utter crap, making you doubt everything you believed about yourself as a parent.
A couple of weeks ago I noticed on my twitter and facebook feeds that other baby mamas like myself were struggling from day to day. They felt awful because someone (just the one nosy person) had told them their new awesome way of getting their baby to sleep (which was working and not harming the baby at all) was wrong and would scar them for life, or they simply had one of THOSE days where they just felt like they weren’t doing their best. This made me feel really sad. Why do we do this to ourselves?!
I wrote this (a shortened version) on my Facebook page that same day:
YOU ARE AWESOME, YOU LOVE YOUR CHILD, YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST and that is GOOD ENOUGH. YOU ARE LEARNING AND GROWING JUST LIKE YOUR BUB. BE KIND TO YOURSELF AND TELL NOSEYPARKER KNOW IT ALLS TO GET BACK IN THEIR BOXES (even if only in your head to make you feel better hehe). I hope this reaches those who really needed to see it today xxx
It’s something I need to remind myself of all the time.
The other day my child tried to eat a dead fly. It was a big one too. I got to him just in time (before it ceased to be in one piece anymore). I had a vague recollection of spraying an annoying fly a few days earlier with my favourite brand of bug spray…and I felt awful. Have I poisoned my child? Do I find the number for poison control? Where did he find it? Could it have died of natural causes? WHY DID I SPRAY A FLY IN THIS HOUSE? THAT’S DANGEROUS NOW. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER. Of course I just laughed about it on Facebook later, but I felt a bit crap first. Of course the Little Mister was fine in the end (thanks for asking) and I learnt a couple of things: 1. Be more conscious of the chemicals I use around the house, and 2. The Little Mister really doesn’t like it when I won’t let him eat flies.
The Little Mister has been practicing “walking” with me around the house as I hold his hand, and that same day was no different. Except…he stopped to take a rest against a wall, then obviously a bit tired from all the new skill learning he bopped his head on that wall and bruised his forehead. I felt bad, like I should have seen it coming. He only cried a bit and was very good about it, wanting a cuddle. I had doubts. Had I put him in a position where he could hurt himself? Was it my fault for not catching him quick enough? I tried to forgive myself and move on.
Later that day, I took the Little Mister out to a cafe to meet my mum for lunch. As he’s now such a big boy (just turned one), I thought it would be fun to order him his own little meal off the kids’ menu, instead of feeding him something I’d brought from home. We ordered scrambled eggs on toast for him and poached eggs on toast for myself. The order was botched and his pint sized order came poached, while mine was scrambled. We switched the eggs from one plate to the other and didn’t think anything more on the matter. I hadn’t realised the hot yolk from my poached egg was still on his plate and the Little Mister (being so excited to eat what the grown ups were having) reached out for some yummy scrambled egg a bit too quickly. The heat of the leftover poached yolk hurt his little hand and he started screaming bloody murder, looking so shocked and in pain (there seriously is nothing like the pain of hot egg yolk running down your arm). My mum realised what had happened before I did and we started to fix the problem, but I felt awful. I hadn’t thought about it in advance. I’d been so excited for him being a ‘big boy’ that I hadn’t concentrated on how hot the food was and froze when he cried instead of having my wits about me so I could identify the problem quickly. He got over it, with a tiny little burn on his mouth, next to his lip (which didn’t seem to bother him) and he LOVED his eggs and toast once they were properly cooled to the right temperature. My mum reassured me that these things happen and that he was OK in the end and that’s all that matters. Perhaps he might have even learnt the difference between hot and cold (albeit the hard way), and that we all let our guard down occasionally, even if we’re good parents.
Again, I had to choose to think of it as a story to remember and something to learn from. I won’t make that mistake again and the Little Mister has actually started to approach his meals a little more cautiously when he knows they’ve been warmed for him. I now check more carefully when I serve his food (even though before the incident I usually did anyway).
As the day went on, I needed to look for a couple of wardrobe basics (it’s a long story about a stay at home mum who only wears one outfit – ever) and having my mum there meant that I could take some time to try things on in the changerooms. The Little Mister loved the bad music playing in the clothing stores and was rocking out, dancing and nodding his head to the side in time with the music (stupidly cute). He loved being with his Nanna Unprepared and I managed to find a couple of dresses that made me feel a little less frumpy and boring. I realised that he had long forgiven and forgotten, that he was fine and that I should be kind to myself, perhaps even laughing about what a day he/we had had. We all have one of those days occasionally, right? Everything had turned out OK in the end. We had survived.
Could I have done better? Sure. It’s a full on job looking after a one year old. You have to be on the ball every minute of the day and it’s exhausting. There’s always something new to worry about. To childproof against. Sometimes you catch yourself staring into space for the teensiest of moments, before reality pulls you back as your child tries to climb inside the kitchen bin or the television (even though it’s not even turned on – much).
I think that it’s just a matter of remembering to be kind to yourself. At the end of the day, you’ve done your best and you’ve learnt some lessons along the way. It’s about trusting in yourself as a good, caring, loving and proactive parent – remembering that you’re not just turning into a Bad Parent just because you’re not perfect. The fact that you want to be a good parent and you’re taking those little not-so-perfect moments quite seriously (while being able to laugh or blog about it later) means you probably already are.
We also need to be kind to each other. Support our friends who’ve had a bad day. They already feel bad. They don’t need us telling them just how bad to feel or giving advice that is designed to show our judgement, rather than to actually lift that person up and make them feel better.
We’ve all made small(er) scale, completely accidental mistakes that turned out OK in the end. We’ve all thought, “Wow – close call. Thank goodness it went our way.”
Forgive yourself and don’t let other peoples’ throwaway comments wreck your whole day. I bet hours later while you’re feeling really awful about what they’ve said, they’ve forgotten they even said it. Do what works for you and always follow your instincts. Trust your own judgement.
We just have to not beat ourselves up over it all. Every week is a new week. Every day is a new day. Every hour is a new hour. Every minute is a new minute. It’s never too late to put our big girl pants back on and try again.
Now I just have to take my own advice 😉