Is it just me, or are some new mums just so bloomin’ capable? By this I mean those new mums that just seem to pop out a baby and take to this parenting malarkey like they’ve finally fulfilled their life’s destiny? Like they’ve actually been doing it all their lives? They’re confident and competent and so bloomin’ capable!
I am not one of these capable new mums. After nearly 4 months, I may have a vague idea of what I’m doing, but I’m less willing and able and more willing and unable, it seems. Yet I constantly feel the pressure to be the capable mum creature.
From breastfeeding to baby wearing, cloth nappies to baby led weaning, mums that manage every baby class going and still find time to do the housework, these mums just seem able to do it all – and I use the above purely as examples of what I personally would like to aspire to in an ideal world, for it seems that this breed of capable mum can turn their hand to anything, and not worry about their choices, either.
I, on the other hand, constantly worry about my decisions and choices, and am less baby wearing, more awkwardly-manhandling-the-baby-out-of-the-buggy. I seem to be able to master about one parenting aspect a month – at the moment it is the aforementioned baby wearing that I’m getting to grips with, as per my previous post. I have a small stash of cloth nappies, but am yet to put one on Baby Lighty’s little bum as I don’t have a nappy bin and, quite frankly, I don’t really get what I’m supposed to be doing with them (don’t ask me about the abbreviations on cloth bum sites either; I have no idea what strip washing is!), and I’m currently reading the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook, but am already worrying about ‘doing it right’! And the breastfeeding discussion is a whole other post for a whole other day!
There’s been much discussion and eye-rolling of late regarding what I like to call ‘Pinterest Pressure’. If you’re a Pinterest addict like me, you’ll know what I mean. The mums that pack healthy-yet-fun lunch boxes – often with a handwritten note, or better yet a note which can be downloaded as a ‘free printable’, included to tell their little darlings how proud they are of them on their first day of school – the mums that create fantastic baby sensory play from a loo roll, some lentils and a blob of playdough, and the mums that can pull off the most fantastic first birthday parties, often accompanied by oodles of flower arrangements, or balloons, or both, in pretty pastel shades and a very obvious, very adhered to theme – there’s always a theme!
If I’m being completely honest, I must admit that I’m not too worried about the latter point as I do love to throw a good party with a theme, and already have two – yes two! – secret Pinterest boards dedicated to Baby Lighty’s first birthday party, but the Pinterest example does make me wonder if social media is to blame in cultivating the capable parent image.
It’s a conversation that Mr Lighty and I have regularly in that I often remind him that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors – or rather, beyond Facebook profiles – and myself and two good friends have been known to share via Whatsapp the ‘outtakes’ of photos taken before the ones that made it to Facebook with the hashtag: ‘real-life-not-FB-life’.
I know that Mr Lighty had a Facebook friend whose paternity leave was seemingly spent enjoying fabulous family days out and pub lunches with the new baby…Mr Lighty and I were lucky if we managed to shower before 2pm in those first two weeks! But did we share that on Facebook? No, we only shared our own little trip to the local park (we were forced out of the house by a midwife’s appointment so thought we’d make the most of being out and about for half hour!) and our very brief visit to the seaside, cut short by the demands of breastfeeding.
So maybe it’s less of a case of being willing but unable in terms of parenting, and more the case of being unwilling to share the lows on social media. I hope that my blog is honest enough to go someway towards rectifying the perfectly capable mother image. As long as we all love our offspring – and I know that we all do that by the bucket load – then we are, in fact, perfectly capable, and that’s all that matters.