So I was going to do a smug little post about the sun bonnet I made for The Girl out of an old shirt sleeve of her daddy’s, but then I popped onto Facebook and read a thread on my ante-natal group which threw up some things I wanted to address more. (I will do the smug tutorial-esque post soon though, promise).
A mother on this group was asking about aides for sitting – Bumbos, walkers etc and, along with some others, I said not to bother with those. They can cause physiological problems with hips and posture and force babies to do something they’re not physically ready for. Others agreed with me and when I suggested a playnest (like a big inflatable doughnut) to help support them in their attempts to sit without forcing them, I felt I had offered a reasonable compromise.
Then another second-time mum popped on, one whom I respect, whose parenting is similar to mine and who (from what I read) works harder at active parenting than I do. She decried all artificial aides to sitting or standing and said that even holding the baby on their feet could be detrimental and that babies would sit or stand when they’re ready to sit or stand.
Instantly I felt defensive. I hold The Girl up like this, I did the same with The Boy. Not to try and rush their development, but because they seemed to enjoy it and have strong little legs which like to stamp on my lap. I love the look of glee on her face. I felt defensive because I suspected she was right and that I was doing things that might not be best for my children.
A hot flush of shame rose up in me. All any of us want to do for our children is our best. I have read widely and researched – hence why no Bumbos, walkers or door bouncers in our house – but this I had missed. I got something wrong and as a parent it hurts to realise this and our first reaction is to lash out.
Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding is a prime example of this, where each ‘side’ feels the other is getting at them, somehow implying something about their choice by making a different one. It’s difficult, you see, to tell the difference between the small stuff that we shouldn’t sweat and the big stuff that will massively affect their future in some way. I spent most of today trying to explain the concept of ‘enthusiastic consent’ to The Boy in a way that made sense to a three year old so that one day he wouldn’t think it was OK to rape a drunk or unwilling woman. Parenting is scary. No wonder we’re all so insecure. If you’re not then you’re not taking the responsibility seriously enough.
I reined in my initial instinct to jump in with defences and rationalisations of my actions. She wasn’t having a dig at me – she doesn’t even know what I do at home with my children. I reined in that instinct, but it was strong enough that I knew I had to write about it. How’s about some comments? Anyone want to back me up here and tell me about a time they felt defensive about their parenting?