Judgmental parenting – in all its forms

So it seems this Facebook ‘Motherhood Challenge’ thingy has been causing quite a bit of a stir.

Articles in the nationals moaning about the ‘smugness’ of being nominated to post pictures of you and your kids on social media, people dissecting the whole issue on breakfast radio, people who have done it getting upset that others are upset about it.

And so the debate rolls on…

Having not been nominated myself I can only assume I must be slap, bang in the middle of the ‘crappy mum’ camp. Well, tell me something I didn’t already know!

Only joking – I can’t profess to have had majorly strong feelings either way on this one. Apart from noticing none of my FB friends had tagged me, and scanning through the lovely snaps of those that have.

I do understand the dislike of the whole ‘parental club’ thing though. You know what I mean, feeling like you’re included in something (even though you’re not even sure entirely what that is) and so somehow endorsed as a member of the badge-wearing ‘good parenting’ brigade.

Way back when after having Mini-me, like most first-time mums I suppose, I really felt the need to try and slot in with all the other mums I knew.

The fact that I hated, and I mean REALLY hated, breastfeeding worried me stupid for example because others used to wax lyrical about the amazing, natural bonding and sheer joy of it all.

Meanwhile I sat wincing in front of the television desperately trying to distract myself with episodes of Gilmore Girls and wondering just how long this horrendous, un-natural feeling of being a human cow had to continue for.

I was once reduced to tears by someone who thought fit to comment on how putting Peppa Pig on the iPad was probably not the most stimulating dinner accompaniment for my one-year-old.

Now as a part-time working mum of two of course my skin has thickened, my standards have slipped and I’m far more likely to laugh than cry about such things.

I’m a really big fan of sometimes sloppy, honest parenting – and so are most of my friends. So it’s lovely when we all have a good giggle about that morning’s ‘disasters’ at the school gates.

Mini-me’s pants falling round her ankles as we raced into school this morning was today’s… Nothing like a teaching assistant shouting at you about knicker elastic before 9am to make you feel like mother of the year!

But enough about that.

All this social media outrage has got me thinking about whether I myself am guilty of being a judgmental parent. After all it works both ways.

Just because I don’t juice things for my toddler, limit screen time and scour children’s cookbooks and draw up a weekly menu what gives me the right to scoff at those who do?

And I’ve been really horrible about Gwyneth Paltrow in the past but clearly her uber-healthy methods work for her brood… Resisting the urge to say more here…

Anyway that’s what I’m going to take from all this. Trying to just focus on my own family, making any changes that would be good for us, and perhaps not having a little chuckle about people who choose not to own a TV set or decide to home school.

Because that could quite rightly be construed as horribly smug too.

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When you know you’re done, children-wise.

I turned 38 the other day. Yes, the big THREE, EIGHT. Not quite the big FOUR, ZERO.

I thought my BFF’s lovely boy summed up the situation pretty well when he asked: ‘Mummy, is Auntie Sarah older than a dinosaur?’

Answer, probably! Even if just those plastic copies from the Natural History Museum.

Don’t worry this latest blog (rant!) isn’t another nostalgic look back to my ‘youth’ or further confessions of Eighties music addition, actually I’m feeling pretty happy in my own skin right now.

It might have something to do with the fact that 38 is just a nicer number than 37, or that my lovely friends and family really spoiled me this year, but a large part of it is about where we are with mini-me and blue-eyed boy (who by the way can now say ‘Ello Dada’, a huge achievement, even if it does come out with an accent somewhat like a Bond villain!)

I’ve probably mentioned it but blue-eyed boy will turn one in a matter of mere weeks. This means that our horrendous food bill should hopefully start going down as he leaves his formula days behind him and starts chomping on what we eat, but more importantly that he’s inching ever closer to being a little more independent.

Of course there are massive pros and cons to this, but as it’s a fact of life you can’t really do much but embrace it. A little like when they start opening the kitchen cupboards and pulling everything onto the floor.

Mini-me has been feisty, driven and carving her own path since the age of about five months so we really didn’t have any choice with her. While other children wept and clung to their parents as they were left with a child minder or at nursery, mini-me used to race off to play giving hubby and I barely a backwards glance.

By contrast blue-eyed boy is endearingly clingy. And he’s so cute that hearing him sob when I leave a room still hasn’t got frustrating, yet.

He’s also a much slower developer than mini-me was and isn’t crawling yet, just slowly shuffling, and dancing, on his bottom, happily playing with his toys or ‘exercising’ in the Jumperoo.

But while we have walking, running and then the terrible tantrums to come, he’s still much more self-sufficient now, can amuse himself for a time and loves to ‘chat’.

I think this is why I really love this age. By ten months, or so, babies tend to be really responsive, a joy to be around and also you can see the little person they are quickly turning into shining through.

Although I loved the constant cuddles of the very early days with him, I know I don’t want to go through all that pregnancy and breastfeeding malarkey again. And fortunately hubby agrees.

As he says a healthy and happy one of either sex is a pretty winning combination, and we were also both one of two ourselves.

That’s another reason I feel lucky I suppose. We see friends umming and ahhing over whether they’d like a third, but know absolutely that we’re done.

And that means starting to our get lives back a little, as blue-eyed boy hopefully starts sleeping through the night on a regular basis and I can turn my attention a shade more to building up my journalism and copywriting business.

Which, bringing things back to the recent birthday, is why this pressie from another BFF was so perfect.

NeatFreakPhotoJan6th

Yes everything seems exciting, new and full of possibility at the start of my 38th year. Long may it continue!

*When did you know you were ‘done’? I’d love to hear any reader’s thoughts!