I don’t know who you are, I shall call you the New Mum, you posted this on social media:
Firstly, can I say congratulations, New Mum. You did it. You grew a tiny human being. I don’t know if pregnancy was kind to you, or whether you spent 9 months with your head down the toilet, but you did it. I hope your labour wasn’t one of those 37 hour long ones and that there weren’t too many stitches involved. But welcome to the world of parenting. Do you find yourself just staring at the baby in awe? I did. Both times.
I’m really pleased things are going so well for you, and long may it continue. But let me just say having a messy house, skipping the odd shower and not being able to watch your child for every second of the day doesn’t make you a lazy parent. It makes you a pretty normal one.
We all start off with so many intentions as a new parent. But it’s an in-at-the-deep-end, learn-as-you-go, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of job, and no baby book can prepare you for it. You learn pretty quickly that you didn’t have a clue about parenting when you had all those ‘intentions.’
A two week old baby is not quite in the same league as a two year old toddler in terms of the havoc they can create. Tiny babies sit quite amicably in the cute little bouncy chair whilst you mop the kitchen floor. Two-year-olds tend to empty the kitchen cupboards or eat the dogs biscuits if you attempt any kind of household chore. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t live in a pigsty. But my house is not as clean as it once was before the small people invaded it.
Sometimes when I need to get something done I let the kids watch TV. Does that make me lazy? Believe me I tried the alternatives. I’ve set up train tracks and created an arts and crafts extravaganza to keep them ‘occupied’ so I could do some cleaning, or put some make-up on. But after 30 seconds the train derailed, and one red line on a piece of paper constituted as a finished masterpiece.
There are some days that I don’t get to shower until my husband gets home from work. Mornings are often a military operation to get the little one up and dressed and fed, along with the big one, before we set off for the school run. A tantrum from the little one, and an in-depth chat about batman (with many many questions) from the big one, and time very quickly runs out. I’m left with the choice of showering or giving the kids breakfast. I choose the kids. Every single time. I put them first. I sacrifice my needs for theirs. Does that make me lazy?
It might not be peanut butter on the curtains, maybe it will be a self applied nappy cream disaster, maybe a poo on the carpet, or maybe Lego up the nostril, but something will happen when “you are not watching them close enough”. It happens to us all. Frequently. And mainly because no one has issued us with those eyes in the back of our heads that everyone tells us we need. When the big one was 3, he drew a number seven on my mum’s wall. I was as equally mortified as I was impressed by his writing skills. Plus how else are we going to embarrass our kids on their 18th birthday without stories such as the time they gave themselves a haircut.
Maybe don’t judge us all and slam us for being lazy when you are still effectively in the probation period. I’ve been doing this parenting job for 6 years now and I am by no means an expert. I learn everyday. I make mistakes. I don’t always get the balance right. What never helps anyone is judgement. And there are enough mummy wars created in the media without us doing it to each other.
I’m going to blow my own trumpet a bit here, but I wrote a piece about not judging each other called We Are Not Rivals. And it struck a cord. I know this because it was number 12 on Huffposts most read posts of 2015. I know this because of the many lovely comments I got back. We are all trying to do our best, and we don’t need people telling us we are doing it wrong or that we are not good enough.
Some-days I am exhausted because I’ve been up all night with the little one and his accompanying fever, who then wants to be in my arms constantly the following day. On those days the big one may have had chocolate for his lunch*. Some-days I may just have bad PMT and would prefer to sit on the sofa and wallow in self pity and chocolate than I would engage with the outside world. I’m not lazy. I’m just not supermum.
*he had a banana too
I think you have mistaken laziness for honesty. I love my two boys to bits and they are the best thing I have ever done, but some days it is hard. Really hard. And I would rather go online and see all the other honest parents and know that I am not alone in failing to be ‘perfect,’ than I would see someone brand my imperfections as lazy and tell me they are doing it better than me. My children are not an ‘excuse’ for the days when things aren’t plain sailing and don’t exactly go to plan, but 9 times out of 10, they are the reason.
Although I may jest about my ‘lazy’ or less than perfect parenting moments, don’t think for a second that I (or any other parent out there) don’t beat myself up about it. Please don’t think that ‘lazy’ days don’t come with enormous amounts of guilt and quite probably a few tears. But know that everyday I do my best. Some days my best my fall a little short.
But what really angers me about your post is the damage it does to all those new mums that maybe aren’t coping as well.
Maybe they had a traumatic birth and two weeks later they are still in their pajamas.
Maybe their baby has decided sleep is not for them, and they have been up all night for the last three nights.
Maybe they have a baby who hasn’t taken to kindly to being outside of the womb, and wants to be held all the time, so they have’t had time for a hot dinner let alone clean the house?
Maybe their hormones are in overdrive and they are finding it hard to adjust to the new world of motherhood.
Maybe they are just enjoying the early days and have decided that the chores can wait.
Just because they haven’t got parenting nailed in the first two weeks does not make them lazy or inadequate in any way. It makes them pretty ‘normal’.
I would just like to offer you some advice, New Mum. Mummy friends are awesome. They keep you sane. They share in your little one’s triumphs and they share your worries. They will be your rock. Please don’t brand us all as lazy or you will miss out on some of the most amazing friendships. And cake.
That’s my rant over. May all your meal times be at the table, and your little one always be clean. Good luck with that.
I am overwhelmed by the response I have received to this post. I have had so many messages from new mums two weeks in or more, that haven’t quite ‘nailed it’ yet, and haven’t found life with a newborn such a breeze as the ‘two week mum’. Then of course there are all the mums of toddlers with a talent for running rings around their parents. I am so humbled that my post helped make you feel like a ‘normal’ parent, and not a crappy ‘lazy’ one. You are all Supermums. xxx