I’m a law-abiding citizen and doting mum who wants what is best for her two children. Why then do I feel guilty and find myself having to justify everything I do?
Whatever the parenting decision, I feel a need to explain it. Like I’m not sure I’ve done it right and I’ve got something to be sorry for.
When I was little and had done something I knew was wrong I always prepared for the telling off by thinking up an explanation for my behaviour in my head.
It might have been an elaborate tale involving a late bus, a locker room bully, a muddy puddle and a misplaced banana skin explaining why I came home for the fifth time having lost my lab coat at school. Or something more simple, like blaming my older brother for starting yet another noisy row.
Now I’m a parent, I still feel I need to explain myself. To acknowledge I’ve done something wrong and give a clear narrative as to why I’ve chosen to do that. Except, I’ve done nothing wrong. I know I have done nothing wrong, because I make the choices for my family to do what I think is best for them. However a part of me knows others may not choose my path or share my way of thinking, so I have to jump in with an excuse as to why I am parenting in a particular way.
This is a part of myself I’m really trying to change, this self-doubt about my decisions.
One example is my flagrant breaking of the “parenting rules”. I moved both my babies into their own rooms by six weeks old. And now I’ve written that down I feel I need to explain that decision, to prove I’m not a terrible mum and I am aware of the SIDs advice.
Then sometimes it can escalate into a weird loop when someone else’s parenting decisions get thrown into the mix. A relative who found co-sleeping helped with their baby’s frequent night wakings suggested I might want to try that. But I have never co-slept with my two and I don’t want to. It’s not that I don’t realise it could be a good solution, it’s just I could never relax fully with them in the bed. I would be too worried about me or my husband squishing them, as I can be quite a deep sleeper.
However, after saying that to my relative, I then felt the need to quickly add in that I understand their way of doing things is really popular and effective. It’s just my own weird hang-ups that are in the way of me trying out co-sleeping. So again I have apologised and belittled my own parenting decisions.
The truth is if we’re doing what we think is best, then we are doing the right thing.
Some families like baby-led weaning, some don’t and some like a mixture.
Some families co-sleep and some don’t.
Some parents keep their babies in their bedroom for the first six months, some don’t.
Some parents have a blanket ban on TV, some need it to give themselves a bit of precious time for rest or chores.
Some parents will let their toddler have an extra large piece of cake, some won’t.
Some parents will let their toddler stay up late for a family party, some don’t want to disrupt the routine.
I am a real mixture in all these areas and in some of them my views have changed over the last two-and-a-half years of parenting. There are no right answers. Sure there are a few outright wrong ones, like leaving your two-week-old in the bath while you nip to the shops, but ultimately if you’re doing what you think is best then you can’t go far wrong.
Let’s stop apologising for our parenting decisions. Our fellow parents aren’t there to scold and judge. They’re there to listen, support and pass the biscuits.
Do you find yourself apologising for doing things your way? I would love to hear your thoughts.