I do not want to be unkind to the folk that utter these phrases, because I’m sure that 99% of the time, their heart is completely in the right place. However, as a weary, fragile, exhausted, burnt out mum, there are phrases we hear, sometimes on a daily basis, that just wind us up something chronic. Let me begin….
- ENJOY EVERY MOMENT! Really? You expect me to enjoy every moment? If it’s all the same to you there are some moments I would like to bury in a very very deep hole never to see the light of day again. For example that moment when my toddler was screaming with hand foot and mouth disease in one room, while the newborn was screaming for milk in another, and I had no idea who to go to first. Or the moment when I’d been woken up for the 8th time in a row in the space of 3 hours, and my eyeballs were so dry and sore from exhaustion I thought they would actually fall out. There are moments I will definitely enjoy, sure! But every damn moment? I think not. On your bike.
- ONE DAY YOU’LL MISS ALL OF THIS. Yeah, please see above. Maybe some of it. But definitely not all of it.
- AHH IS HE/SHE GOOD? Is my 4 week old baby good? Erm, I’m not quite sure how to answer that. I mean, as far as I’m aware they haven’t shoplifted yet and I certainly haven’t had to send them to their room without any pudding. I think what they’re perhaps asking is am I blessed with an easy and sleepy baby? And the answer is NO I’m bloody not.
- YOU MUST SLEEP WHEN THEY SLEEP. Mmmmmm, nice idea that. Only if I did that I would wake up to absolute utter chaos! When they sleep I just about have a teeny tiny opportunity to get on top of things like eating, sterilising bottles, or washing up, or hanging washing out, so that I don’t live in mayhem. But as I say, nice idea.
- UH-OH, YOU’RE MAKING A ROD FOR YOUR OWN BACK THERE! Well, if that includes ensuring my baby is warm and comfortable and content, and it stops the blooming screaming, then stick that rod up my back as FAR AS IT WILL BLOODY GO! This one used to really get my goat. And do you know what, it’s also utter bollocks. All the apparent “rods for my back” where actually just really successful methods in making my baby feel happy, safe and secure, all of which they grew out of in their own time.
- BREAST IS BEST! Don’t get me wrong, I understand and appreciate the value in this message, I really do. It’s just that it’s not always the most useful statement to make. If, for example, the mother is having an utter nightmare trying to breastfeed, someone repeating how marvellous it is constantly, but not actually helping in HOW to do it is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. And for some (me included here), breastfeeding is not always possible, no matter now much they wish it were.
- THAT BABY IS USING YOU AS A DUMMY. Now not being able to breastfeed, I never had the pleasure of this little gem. But I have good friends who did breastfeed and I’ve been told how often they got this, and it makes me furious on their behalf. Look pal, if being attached to my boob is making the baby happy and is keeping them quiet and content, let them get on with it would you? I’m fairly confident they won’t be asking to do it when they’re 16.
- YOU THINK THIS PHASE IS HARD? JUST YOU WAIT! Yes, so useful! Because when I’m finding something tough, the best thing you can do is tell me how awful the next part is! This begins in pregnancy. “oooh you think pregnancy is hard? Wait till you’ve had the baby!” and then it doesn’t stop. Newborns are nothing compared crawlers, crawlers nothing compared to walkers, talkers are nothing compared to terrible 2s, terrible 2s are easy compared to threenagers. ARGHHHH!
- DO THEY SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT NOW? Just don’t even go there. Please.
- IS DADDY BABYSITTING? (on the rare occasion mummy makes it out the house alone) No, Daddy is not “babysitting”, Daddy is “parenting”. I’m pretty confident last time Daddy went out on his own he wasn’t asked if Mummy was “babysitting” so I’m not quite sure why it’s acceptable to be asked the other way round.
Sally Bunkham is the founder of Mum's Back, who provide new mum gifts focussing on the luxury stuff denied in pregnancy, while also raising awareness of perinatal mental health issues.
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