Bottle feeding? Oh dear? Giving your child a dummy? Shame on you. Can’t stop that baby crying? What a terrible parent you must be.
It’s easy to judge mothers. I like to think I’m not a judgemental person, but the truth is, before I had Jack, I had pretty set ideas of what motherhood would be like and more importantly what I would be like as a parent. And then he was born, and everything changed. I now know that a lot of parenting in the early weeks is about survival, especially if you had a particularly traumatic birth (and let’s face it none of them are pleasant) or have a baby with certain needs. Thought you’d never let your baby sleep in the bed with you? I’ll ask you again after three nights of zero sleep when your baby will only close his eyes and stop screaming when curled up on your chest holding onto your finger. Would never consider a dummy? You might think again when your nipples are raw after a three hour feed-athon with your baby who is desperate for comfort.
We all look at each other and think about what we would do differently (read: better) and as a new parent I’ve never felt so judged and on display. Every time Jack cries in public I worry that I’m being judged and found wanting. Every time he’s sick from his reflux I just know I should be doing something differently. Every time I see a baby without cradle cap or who’s the 60th percentile rather than the 55th I wonder what I’m doing wrong.
Which is why this video (albeit rather, erm, American) really resonated with me.
Sent through by one of the girls from my lovely NCT chat group, it made me realise that I’m not alone. All new mothers feel judged and vulnerable. They all think they’re doing it all wrong, or at least doing it all differently. Being a mother comes with a million worries (hello being responsible for an actual human life) so we don’t need the worry of wondering what other people are thinking of our parenting skills or lack there of. We’re all just trying to survive out here.
Shout out to my brilliantly supportive NCT pals, without whom I’d be stumbling in the dark and infinitely more lonely on the 4am feeds.