What makes a good parent?

December 6, 2009

I read this post recently and it has been playing on my mind. The lovely blogger was worrying about letting her child go to swimming lessons without her in the water. The swimming part is not the thing that I have been thinking about, more the whole idea of being protective of your children and not being able to, or not wanting to ‘let go’.

Recently I heard about some friends of a friend who had a baby 9 months previously and they took the baby everywhere. In that 9 months the mum had not left the baby, not even for an hour. I don’t know how old Piran was the first time that I left him with my MIL for the afternoon, but it was around the 6 weeks mark I think. Now, I know that we are lucky to have someone close by that can help out like this. I also know that the fact we were bottle-feeding meant I was able to do this. However, the general feeling that I have picked up online and from Twitter friends most people are reluctant to leave the baby, they feel like they are missing a limb, they worry about them the whole time they are gone.

I don’t. I will happily leave Piran with his Nan or with his Dad and disappear off into the sunset to enjoy my fleeting baby free hours. The way I look at it, Mr C is his Dad and is just as qualified to look after him as me. My MIL knows more about raising children than me anyway, she has been doing it a lot longer. She calls if there is something she is not sure of, she respects my wishes and looks after Piran in the way that we do.

So, what is my problem? Well I am starting to feel that because I happily go on my merry way and enjoy my time apart from my baby that I am not wired right. That I don’t have the right kind of love for him. I do love him. If I am away from him all day I start to miss him and think about what his day has been like. But I don’t feel that urge to be with him at all times. When we are at Little Dippers the instructor talks about parents that don’t like to let go of the baby underwater but I just get on with it. I guess I want him to be his own little independent person not clinging to me all the time. I couldn’t manage that at all. I need that space for my sanity.

I am emotionally involved with the little man. Today he did this thing with his legs when he was on his front which was the beginnings of him moving the way he needs to in order to start moving under his own steam and I had to leave the room as I was a little choked up. My FIL was there and I didn’t want to blub in front of him. I love his smiles and his giggles and how much he is changing.

I am not sure that this is coming out right. I don’t think that I am a bad parent. But I also worry when I read that some people cannot bear to let their child cry. I know that if Piran is over tired and we are late having a nap the only way he will go to sleep is if he cries for a short while first. I let him cry, but I don’t walk away. I sit at the top of the stairs and listen. Like I feel that it is okay for him to cry as long as I am listening to it. I am happy with my decision, however I found it really hard when we were staying with family, like they were judging me and the way that I do things.

I guess what I want to know is, do these feelings get stronger the longer you are a mum? Or, is this just the way I feel about my child and that is unlikely to change. I wonder what I will be like when they go to school. Will I cry? As Piran’s personality develops will my feelings develop? If he is strong and independent will I be happy to let go. If he is more sensitive will I feel more protective?

I think the case here is that I am reading far too much into trying to understand these feelings that I have never had before. I have been in a difficult mood all weekend and am very frustrated with the little man, as he had dropped a night feed but last night decided he wanted it again. I got used to getting into a routine only to have it changed a couple weeks later but the last couple of weeks Piran has been ill and everything changes everyday and I find it really hard to manage. I guess I had it in my mind that by the time he was 4 months old things might be a little bit more settled. I am learning that is not the case.

After we stayed with my mum last week she says that he has a complicated personality. It is funny. I thought he was quite a handful but I had nothing to compare him to so I thought that perhaps it was just me not knowing what having a baby is like. But then I read blogs about people’s chilled babies and I know that our little man is not really that. I don’t want to complain but I do think that he is very hard work some days. It was nice to see that other people think I am justified in the way I see him.

I think a lot about whether I will be a good parent. Will I be strong enough to stand my ground like this blogger? Will I be a pushover? Will I be able to teach my child good manners and respect? Will he run rings around me? Will I yell and shout? Will I be able to keep calm? Will I give in and let them watch tv all day eating things that are bad for them? How will I deal with a picky eater, a bad sleeper, tantrums? I know it is too early to worry about this but when in starts to sink in that you have signed up for life these questions creep in.

Nothing in this world can prepare you for being a mum, how your life changes. When we were on holiday I realised that I will never get a true holiday as long as he is with us. When we are away I do all of the things I do everyday, the things that I see as my job now that I am at home, it is just in a different place. I love being a mum, it is the hardest job in the world, but ultimately the most rewarding. I just need to hang on in there.

14 Comments

  • Reply Adam December 6, 2009 at 11:04 pm

    There is no right or wrong way of bringing him up, everyone does it different. I think being able to let go a little is a very good thing, good on you! 🙂

  • Reply Josie @Sleep is for the Weak December 7, 2009 at 12:25 am

    The fact that you think about all this stuff? That makes you a good parent. There's no right way – what works for you and Piran, what makes you feel confident, happy and in control, and what makes Piran feel loved and secure, that's all the matters.

    Sod everyone else 🙂

    And the love thing? You know I don't find this easy, that I don't find Kai easy. I often feel a strange mixture of needing to be near him and wanting him to be as far away from me as is humanly possible!! Even 17 months in I don't really feel like a natural mother, but then I have to look at my big strapping boy, full of life and personality and concede I can't be doing too badly 🙂

    It is hard this motherhood malarky, bloody impossible at times. But you are normal for feeling that way and for feeling a little shell-shocked at the huge enormity of the job you're undertaking.

    You're doing great though honey. Like you said, just hang in there. xxx

  • Reply make do mum December 7, 2009 at 12:26 am

    I feel the same if I leave K – shouldn't I be missing her more?!
    It is healthy for Piran to have some independence and time with Mr C. I'm sure it'll make things easier down the line for you all.

  • Reply Laura McIntyre December 7, 2009 at 9:10 am

    All you can do is love them , sometimes i feel terrible in the parenting department but i know my kids are growing up with daily hugs and kisses and being told i love you over and over. They are fed and clothed and happy. Really everything else is just a bonus.

    I am one who finds it hard to leave my children . When my eldest was born she was ill and in hospital for 4 weeks , when i got her home i just could not bear to leave her . But my children was also all breastfed and did not take bottles so if i left them it was just a worrying time .
    Once they are older i do enjoy it .

  • Reply TheMadHouse December 7, 2009 at 9:29 am

    We are all different and it would be a sad, sad world if we were all wired the same. You do what feel rights for you and yours at that time. There is no correct way to do this parenting lark.

    There is no book on what emotions we should be feeling.

    As long as you are worrying about what you should be doing, then I think you are on the right track

  • Reply Mum's Survival Guide December 7, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Don't worry about what anyone else thinks. I think it's healthy to have time away from the kids. I happily let other people spend time with Little Miss A. It helps me keep my sanity.
    You will face every situation differently and then probably rehash it afterwards and think you could have done something differently. I know I am constantly doing that, but there is no harm in them watching tv or eating junk, just not 24/7 etc.

  • Reply Claire December 7, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    You make a great parent!!!

    I have the same love for Lola as you do for Piran. I am happy to leave her with people I trust.She was first left for the afternoon at 6 weeks, and tomorrow will be her first overnight sleep. And to be honest, I can't wait. Im looking forward to whole nights sleep and a lay in 🙂 xxx

  • Reply Bec December 7, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    I think it's healthy and a positive to be able yo leave your child with your trusted someone and the earlier you can the better, better for your sanity and also really good for them, if you did'nt you'd end up I suspect with a clingy child and a Mummy close to mental breakdown-itis!
    Your'e a brillopads Mum.
    Give yourself a massive wallop on the back and allow yourself a smug smile.
    hugs.
    xxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Reply Muddling Along Mummy December 7, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    I have a similar approach – that sometimes you need to leave them to get on with it (and mine if overtired need to chunter to get to sleep – I guess its sort of like white noise)

    For me, the fact you are worried about this shows that you are a brilliant parent (as Josie said) – you know your child and what is best for them. End of.

  • Reply bumblingalong December 7, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I'm completely with you! The number of people who asked me if I cried when I first left Moo at nursery – I didn't – she didn't, so it seemed everyone was happy.

    I love her more than anything in the world, but it doesn't mean that I need to be with her every second of the day. So long as I know that she is safe and happy, I'm happy to go about my own business.

    There is no “wired right”, or wrong for that matter, in this sphere. We all do what we need to to get on. And so long as we love and cherish our little ones, there is nothing to be concerned about.

    Now, do you think Nanny can do some babysitting this week….?

  • Reply zooarchaeologist December 8, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    You have to do what is right for you. I'm with you on this, I happily leave them all the time, more if I could to be honest. Im not a baby baby person, I prefer it when they talk back!
    I think the feelings you are describing are particularly ones that hit slightly older mums who have had a life and enjoy getting a little bit of it back.
    A break is good, it helps you realise what you are missing and encourages a bit of independence. A good thing

  • Reply Not such a yummy mummy December 8, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    I let my sister take Sam to my parents for the night when he was 7 weeks old. We were apart for 24 hours. I didn't cry, I went out and got very drunk for the first time in almost 12 months. I needed to find myself again, and I don't think parents do it enough! We need time out to recharge our batteries and have some alone time so we're better parents, and better people. Sam regularly stays out for the night with his grandparents and he loves it, they love it and we love it. How can that make us bad parents?
    I was breastfeeding for 6 months but banked up the milk in the days beforehand and expressed away the milk after the alcohol. I got dressed up, chatted to friends, drank wine and danced on the bar. The next day I couldn't wait to see my gorgeous little man again.

    I know a lot of parents who don't/won't leave their child alone and that's their decision. I just know I couldn't do it. I actually looked forward to going back to work. I feel bad saying that but I did. I needed to remember that I'm a person in my own right, I'm not (as much as I love being) just Sam's mummy.

    If you're a bad parent then what the hell am I? 🙂

  • Reply Sandy Calico December 8, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    I don't think you're wired wrong, you cared enough to write this post. Being a parent is astonishingly difficult at times. I cried this week when my boys threw the dinner I had lovingly cooked on the floor. I wanted to run away and leave them to it – of course I didn't, I cleared up the mess and made them toast. Sometimes you need the time and space to be you again, to recharge your batteries x

  • Reply Emma May 2, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    Again, I could have written that post (although not as well!) I first left my son at 2 weeks old, with his Dad, not on a random street corner – although some reactions I got you'd think I may as well have!

    No-one said similar to my hubby when he went out after a week, and I only went shopping for a couple of hours!
    It's been good for him I think, I've felt better when I get some “me time” and therefore happy mum = happy baby!

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