We survived the newborn days!
We should get a tshirt printed with that. If you’re a new parent or soon to be parent hang in there it really does get better. I used to stare at families and wonder how they managed with more than one child and think ‘hey they look happy and they are smiling so it must get better’. Maybe one day this will get easier.
And it did.
We registered the birth and I will admit I was dreading it as I thought there was going to be a right hoo haa with the two mummies thing but there wasn’t. They were very good. All geared up for us and said all the right things. Which I’m glad about as by the day we did it my hormones were all over the place so they could’ve really been in for it depending on what they did and said! Plus I loved that it made us all feel like an official family in writing too. Both of our names are on the birth certificate myself as the birth mother and L as the parent so none of that father lark to be crossed out with a biro. Full on official we are the two parents of this tiny little human being we call G force (not her real name just in case you thought we were weird). We celebrated with a trip to Marksies for tea and cake. Yep lots of cake.
For the first few weeks of maternity leave you’re in a nice little comfort bubble but I knew this wasn’t going to be forever when L went back to work and I would be left on my own in the sticks without a car. So next on the agenda was creating some sort of social network for G force and I. We had just moved to the area when I was 8 months pregnant so we didn’t know anyone nearby and our family are spread all over so as far as support network we only had each other. With the constant reminder of PND from everywhere you go I knew I was going to have to go and meet new people. Eurk. Both L and I hate meeting new people. We like what we like and new people coming into our circle is not ideal!
So while L was still on paternity leave we went to the local children’s centre to find out what the craic was. I remember it so well. Little one was about 10 days old when we registered her there. It seemed like a good setup with a cafe where l got me a much needed caffeine injection and a millionaire shortbread for the sugar rush pick me up after another rubbish night. It was like my first day at school and being worried I wouldn’t make friends with anyone. I felt anxious and scared about our new life and gutted L would soon be leaving us to manage on our own. At that point L cried and said she was so upset I would have to do this as she knows how much we hate idle chit chat and meeting new people. I now felt vulnerable. Silly really when to most that know me I’m so outgoing but to be put into this situation where I felt so out of my comfort zone was horrible. Maybe that’s why it sticks in my head so much!
The first group I joined was bumps and babies. It was on every week first thing and it was a free session organised by the centre. The first time I went G force was 4 weeks old. I don’t think I said a word. There were about half a dozen other parents with their children and they were all older. They were discussing weaning. Gulp. I am not there yet and didn’t have anything to pitch in with. They’re talking about finger foods. Is this like a buffet? I was like a fish out of water but it’s here where I met one of the solids. (These are the people that are good friends. You can rely on them if you need them but they don’t put any pressure on you for anything). I kept with the group until G force was walking so it was a fair while and saw people come and go and babies grow up but I liked it because it was less intense than other classes and needed no commitment.
I also joined a baby massage group when G force was 5 weeks old as a friend told me she met her best mummy friend there. So I was full of hope I would meet people – my own mummy club. The first session seemed a success on the friend front with everyone being really welcoming and chatty. Mainly I had to try and plan milk feeds around the class so that she didn’t barff all over but so she wasn’t hungry enough to be crying. It was a fine art and I hadn’t really managed it hence the many changes of clothes!
Although the colic and stomach stuff was good for our little colicky baby but having to ask for permission to massage G force was a bit much. I get the principle but I felt like an idiot doing it and wanted to giggle each time. Looking round the room for anyone feeling the same it looked like I was the only one who felt this way! I should’ve known then some of these people weren’t for me. I was out of my comfort zone and then there was the weekend session where L was to come along. We argued all the way there as she didn’t want to come. She didn’t want to spend her weekend with strangers and she had a total WTF face. Then there was the mummy and daddy certificate which just ended the day off horribly. Without making a fuss I emailed the class teacher and she sent us a new certificate with mummy and mammy so we didn’t feel awkward for too long. But the damage was really already done. Least on the plus side the people I had met there were nice and we seemed to hit it off but little did I know that was just the honeymoon period! What followed was weeks of coffee mornings and ‘play dates’ with these people which seemed harmless to begin with until I found myself in an environment where it felt people were trying to outdo one another. It would all be about what you had got your little one or what amazing talent they had or how somebody else can be better than you. Who cares if your kid can crawl at 8 weeks or feed themselves at 12 weeks mine is speaking fluent french at 6 months! My eyes started to glaze over as it started to become this bitchy clique where the majority of time was spent criticising other people and their parenting choices. A turning point for me was when one of the group was nervous to ‘admit they were doing Gina ford’ now I get that there are loads of different books and ‘methods’ when it comes to bringing up children and not everything is suited to every family but it is your choice how you raise your child so it shouldn’t be a bad thing how you choose to do it. I hated to think that I had become one of those people that a friend couldn’t approach with anything.
Someone also suggested we try baby college. To be honest I didn’t really know what it was about but since I was still finding my parenting chi it seemed like a good idea. Plus it sounded cool that my tiny baby was going to college! And when G force was really little it was fun but as she got older the expectation level seemed too high. Things they were trying to get them to do seemed a bit too far fetched and my cherub wasnt playing ball. My little bean bag was not interested in identifying shapes and using their pointy finger to show the shape but they wanted to eat it. It was rubber, they were teething and it felt so so good. I knew I was in the wrong place as I was happy for her to keep chewing it. I don’t need her to make the shape with her pointy finger. She can’t even do a pointy finger yet! All this and still I’m hanging around with the frenemies! I remember being put down by them just some little digs here and there and disapproving looks and I thought enough is enough.
I was on our first family holiday when G force was only a few months old and having some relaxing time around the pool and actually dreading going back. I didn’t want to do the same things and spend time with the same people but I was battling with thinking it’s just what you do and this is what people are like. So when we returned I went back to it for a bit whilst slowly learning about what I wanted to do with my time and what routine would fit with us as a family. I guess it’s just about gaining confidence in your own ability and not worrying so much about what other people think or how they act. I had also met a few more solids at this time which gave me a reality check.
I was too old and too tired to be getting involved in bitchy cliquey groups who are not inclusive. I’m all for the more the merrier and not a case of if your face fits. Plus I don’t have the energy to sit around judging people on their parenting choices. Let people be. Let them make their own choices and encourage rather than wait to have a laugh when things don’t go well. I didn’t need people like that in my life but it took me a while to realise that. Then you realise you had nothing in common with them to start with except you’d had a baby around the same time.
Goodbye Bozos! Parents should be looking out for each other. It’s a hard journey but who says we need to make it harder.
As I work mainly with men I used to joke about how critical and bitchy they can be. It’s a well known fact that you should never take holidays as when you are away your ears will burn from being talked about! But then being submerged into this almost all female world of being in the ‘right’ mummy clique I realised how much I missed being with the boys. Although they may criticise you at least they will have the decency to do it to your face and there are never any ‘hard feelings’. You always know where you stand with them.
Since I ditched the group (and they subsequently defriended me on Facebook! Haha! ) I began to really enjoy my maternity leave. I was a little bit like a lady of leisure with no real fixed timetable now able to dip in and out of activities when I felt up to it. No pressure to go and do something when I’ve had a super s!@t night or go and make chit chat with people I don’t like.
It also made things better at home as we became a stronger family unit. I spent more time at home just relaxing so I wasn’t so tired and even had L’s dinner ready for when she came in from work which kept her off my case!!
‘Be more selective’ the well wishers should’ve said. ‘Don’t waste your time and energy with people that don’t make you happy’ I wish they’d said. ‘Not everybody is like this’ would’ve also been good.
You don’t need bad people in your life but until you come across the good ones you don’t realise the other ones are bad! L knew it straight away but she’s a much better judge of character than I am plus she refuses to spend time with anyone she doesn’t like where I’m a bit of a sucker and spend a lot of time hoping people will be nice then being disappointed they are not. Thank goodness I met some good eggs who make you realise you don’t work at friendship it just happens. They are my solids and they are amazing friends – feel very lucky to have found them. They are always there to share in the highs and lows of parenthood. Real people with no hidden agenda.
So I ditched baby massage and college for Tumble Tots which was more suited to the G force. She can throw herself around in her own little unique way and there’s no one there to judge. And if there is they will soon answer to me. No more haters share my precious time.
I’d become one of the parents smiling with their child. Finally got there after a roller coaster ride. Life was good and it was about then we decided it was time for number 2!