The other day I hurried into a baby group with my daughter. As I sat down the girl next to me turned to me and said, ‘Geez, you’re always late aren’t you? And couldn’t you at least have put some make-up on?’. I smiled apologetically. I should have left the house earlier. I eyed the other mums in the circle. As I pulled my baby’s bottle out of my changing bag, I noticed several babies calmly breastfeeding. One of the breastfeeding mums looked over with a raised eyebrow and said ‘Oh. You’re bottle-feeding? You do know breast is best, don’t you. Could you not have tried a bit harder?’. Forcing back a tear, I smiled and nodded and mumbled an explanation. Maybe I should have tried harder? Could I have? Whilst trying to wrestle my wriggling baby into position (should she wriggle so much?), she started crying, louder and louder. That was clearly the last straw for the other mums, as I heard the collective tutting. Oh God, no-one else’s baby was crying this much.
I know what you’re thinking. What a mean bunch of people, right? Why do I even bother going to that group? The thing is, what if I told you it wasn’t the other mums saying those things. It was actually me, in my head.
You can guarantee that if in reality those people spoke to me like that, I would have stood up for myself, and definitely chosen a nicer baby group. So why on earth do I put up with that level of judgement and guilt-tripping from myself? Why can I not tell myself my decisions are ok and that’s enough? I could before I had a baby! The challenge we face as new mums is that there are so many ‘should’s and ‘shouldn’t’s, and if you deviate from any of them, you are made to feel like you are doing it wrong. So you tell yourself you should be doing it better. Trust me, you’re ok. Whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it BRILLIANTLY for your baby.
As I have waded through the minefield of ‘should’s, both from myself and others, to find a path that works for me and my baby, I have grown determined to help all mums have kinder, healthier minds full stop. Armed with a combination of mindfulness, kindfulness and plain old common sense, I am on a mission to make a difference. So please join me on my quest to be kinder, more mindful and more respectful to myself as a mother, to help other mums do the same, and together let’s banish the word “should” for good.
If you love No More Shoulds, please help me raise its profile for kind mummy minds by popping a nomination in the Writer or Campaigner category for the Mumsnet Blogging Awards!
Featured Blogger for #Dreamteam with The Velcro Day