About The Author: Zohra Ibrahim has written in today to share with us the choices that we face when it comes to our children, even when they are still in the womb, and the lessons that she has learnt on her motherhood journey – it is a post that many, many of us will resonate with! You can find her over on Instagram at @zohrareads.
Choices. They make us who we are, they drive us through our day and all of its moments, big and small. What shall I wear? What do I eat? Now or later? Hundreds, if not thousands of micro decisions in the course of a day and we never know which one will alter the course of our day or even our lives in a split second. When we make choices for ourselves it starts with us and we take ownership of the choices we make. What happens next, it’s on us.
But when you make choices for other people who can’t make choices of their own, who look to you for your guidance and wholeheartedly place their whole selves, hearts and identities into your hands, all of a sudden; these choices become so much more loaded. And so goes the life of a parent. From the moment you know you’re expecting a child, the choices begin and with it the second guessing and the inevitable judgments that come either way. Breast or bottle? Co-sleep or sleep train? Dummy or not? Purées or baby led weaning? Return to work or not? Nursery or not? And that’s all before the first year is up!
The choices just have to be made and they need to be made fast and we toss and turn and question and mull over everything we did when the kids are lying asleep at night but really we just need to …. stop. We need to trust ourselves and our judgments and what we are capable of. We will make choices, right or wrong and we should see each one as a lesson and an opportunity to grow closer to being the parents we’ve always dreamed of being.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned in my journey of motherhood.
- When I lose it with my son and feel myself getting stressed, it’s more of a reflection on how I’m feeling inside at the time as opposed to being related to his behaviour. If I know that my stress is not coming from what he’s doing at the time but rather because I haven’t got XYZ done, I now try really hard to make sure he isn’t on the receiving end of it. It really is true that we have to sort ourselves out outwardly and internally to put our best feet forward as parents.
- That said, there’s a huge emphasis on gentle parenting at the moment and while it is great can often make you feeling like any misstep will damage your child psychologically. I’ve seen posts that say we shouldn’t make our children apologise or compliment them on their appearance and while the reasoning makes sense, it isn’t always practical. Sometimes your child does need to apologise straight away to know that behaviour has consequences and in a busy life and with other kids and places to get to, it really isn’t reasonable to choose that moment to negotiate with your child and validate all the feelings. So for me, it’s a case of doing my best but also forgiving myself when I slip.
- The baby industry is one which is extremely lucrative and for any worry or need you have, there’s either a course or a magic invention that’s supposed to make it all better. Don’t buy into the hype; you do what works for you. There’s no need to have everything but if it works for you and genuinely makes your life easier then go for it! In my case a very expensive feeding cushion and the services of a paid lactation consultant made feeding all the more easier.
- There really is no need to do it all. Yes it does all need to be done, the childcare, the housework, the admin but it doesn’t need to be done all at once and every single day. It will get done sooner or later and guess what? Once it’s done there will be dust again a day later, another load of laundry to do an hour later, crumbs on the floor five minutes after you’ve finished hoovering. There’s so much emphasis on having everything picture perfect but it’s not sustainable for everyone. There’s no use stressing and (going back to my first point) taking it out on others. The housework really can wait. Overworking is glamourised and martyrdom is romanticised but the fact is that the kids don’t see the house, they see YOU.
- Accept the season you’re in. For me this is the season of toys everywhere and changing nappies and way too many wash loads a week. This is the season where I can’t be out too late or have a lie in. Instead of resenting this, own it and embrace it as much you can. Even with regards to personal reflection, don’t lament the fact that you can’t sit and contemplate as much or as mindfully as you used to, rather accept that in being a mum 24/7 every act you do in your day is an act of worship for you! You’re winning without even trying 🙂
- Lastly, ignore the noise! You do what works for you! Different people have different capabilities and everyone has different circumstances and dynamics in which they’ve had to parent their child. As time goes on, it’s so easy to forget what it’s like to be in the thick of it. So ignore the voices that tell you it should be like this and like that because they aren’t living your journey. If you have a partner that helps or you’ve hired someone to give you a hand, don’t feel guilty or inferior simply because you’ve heard tales of how in times gone by, the women did everything all on their own. We don’t need to inherit and continue their hardships! We’re growing and moving forward not wandering around in the past.
In mentioning these things I must admit that I do not by any means have any of these things nailed down to a tee. It’s a work in progress and I have to remind myself of these things every single day. However these are truths unique to me which I feel make my parenting easier and I hope that people reading this can benefit too. I hope you know that as a woman, mother or not, you’re doing great, you’re making progress and your greatest power is that you are YOU. The choices you make contribute to a dynamic of personality traits, achievements and behaviours that are unique to you alone out of 7 billion people in the world. So own it, try not to stress and be proud of how far you’ve come!