Twelve days ago I gave birth to my second daughter, and already I am noticing huge differences in myself as a mother compared to how I was when I had Miss Rose.
With Miss Rose I felt anxious about everything; I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t always know how I was going to do it. And I worried about it. All the time. I had given up work and put all my time and energy into my new baby and I knew nothing about babies, so I had all that time to obsess.
A calmness settled over me once Baby B arrived. I looked at Miss Rose and I looked at my new daughter and I felt a sort of peace. I don’t worry like I did. I managed to raise Miss Rose on my own for the most part and quite honestly I think she’s wonderful, so I feel secure in the knowledge that I can do it again.
I don’t have time to worry like I used to either. With Miss Rose and her step-brother to take care of, a new career I’m busy building, and a very full and active life to lead, I just cannot put the time in to worrying I might be doing something wrong. So I’m not. I’m just getting on with it and it’s working out just fine.
When I had Miss Rose I was very concerned with that other people thought of my parenting choices. Friends, family, strangers. It didn’t matter. Their views on my parenting mattered to me and I put time and energy into trying to satisfy everyone.
People told me I was holding her too much so I’d set her down. People told me babies need to be held all the time so I’d pick her up. People would tell me she needed to learn to take a bottle so I’d try to express and bottle feed her. People told me she should be exclusively on the breast so I’d feel guilty about the efforts I’d made to get her on the bottle.
How we slept, how I fed her, what she wore. Everything was judged, everything was criticised by somebody.
I hated it.
Now I just don’t care.
All parenting choices are controversial. Nobody can raise a child in a way that everyone agrees with and some people will actively judge you.
Last week I walked around town breastfeeding. I didn’t try to hide what I was doing, I didn’t put a blanket over my shoulder, I just fed her whilst we walked around town getting jobs done. Some people didn’t notice, some people didn’t care, some people looked pleased to see it, and some people looked horrified. Did I care? No. I don’t care about the positive or negative responses, because I will no longer let the opinions of other people stop me parenting my children how I think is best. It’s nice to get positives but it won’t impact me, negatives just wash off me.
When people tell me now what I’m doing “wrong”, or pass judgment or criticism about a choice I’ve made, I don’t mind. You think I should be doing something different, that’s cool, you can think it. If you say it then it might make you a bit of a dickhead but it doesn’t make me wrong for not falling in line and doing what you want. With Miss Rose I tried to fall in line. With Miss Rose I tried to follow the unasked for advice, or at least give time and credence to it.
But now? I am happy to just get on with it. If you don’t like it that’s fine, she’s not your child. The only person who’s opinion I care about when it comes to raising my children is that of the man I’ve chosen to raise them with. If we are in agreement then that’s all that matters.
It’s remarkably freeing. Incredibly so.
I look at how I feel about raising Baby B and contrast it with how I felt twelve days into Miss Rose’s life and I can’t compare. I feel loved and supported by my partner in a way I didn’t have before, and I feel secure and confident in my own parenting abilities down to experience I didn’t have before. I’m a different woman and a different mother. I’m happier. I’m getting on with it and I’m feeling good. Tired, no doubt, but good.