Yesterday I was in the doctor’s surgery with my son Ryan because he has tonsilitis….again.
Anyway, while we were waiting for his name to be called, behind me was the sound of a very new baby’s cry. You know that newborn cry that is so distinct to a mum whose children are no longer babies anymore.
Sometimes when we hear this sound, it’s common for people to think ‘awww how cute’, but for me, my body instantly started to feel a past familiar feeling of anxiety and dread when hearing that sound.
It’s funny to feel my body react that way when it was over 4 years ago since I experienced a new born and am no longer in the mental place that I was back then, but it just goes to show where I was at at the time my boys were babies.
You see, that sound, to me meant that it was action time. It was time to stop the baby from crying and do whatever I could to give him what he needed. After all I should know what my baby wants. I should know how to give that to him. I should know exactly why my baby is crying and exactly how to stop him from crying, otherwise, what does that say about me? What does that say about my abilities as this child’s mother?
You can imagine how much stress this kind of thinking was causing me back then and why I started to delve into worth-lessness and feeling like a failure everytime I couldn’t get my child to do what I thought they should be doing.
Remembering the feeling of being out of control and the anxiety it caused so vividly, and furthermore, knowing now how inaccurate my thinking was at that time, has now prompted me to write this post to help other mums who may be feeling the same way. So here’s 5 points to upgrade your thinking if you are anxious over your baby’s crying:
1. Babies cry! This is the reality of having a child. This is their only way of communicating their needs to you and it is not a reflection of you doing anything wrong.
2. You are learning a new skill. Part of that skill is getting to know your child and what their wants and needs are. You are talking about another human being and you can’t expect to know what’s happening for them all the time and sometimes you have no idea what’s going on.
3. If you don’t know something, then you don’t know something. The only way you will know is to learn. This applies to getting your child to sleep, understanding their behaviour over time (including why they are crying), getting them to eat, breastfeeding, the organisation involved with running a household, meeting your personal needs and raising children etc. Over time, with practice, experience and constantly receiving new information, you will learn how to do things and gradually get better at this motherhood role.
4. You don’t have a baby and then instantly know how to be a mum. There is so much bullshit (excuse my language – passion coming out here) emphasis on this instinctual gift that mums are supposed to have when they have a child. While, yes there are times where instinct takes over (and I believe its when we are feeling mostly relaxed and allow it to come through), there are many times where we simply don’t know what we are doing and if we believe that we should know (through this so called instinct), then this is only going to leave us feeling like a bad mother if you don’t get it right. If you are thinking that you should instinctively know what to do, please refer back to points 1, 2 & 3!
5. Your child is not being ‘good’ if they are not crying, or sleeping through the night. You are not a ‘good’ mother because you have a quiet child or a child that rarely cries or sleeps through the night (which, incidentally depends on whose version of ‘sleeping through the night’ you are comparing to). Your child is perfect just the way that they are and are crying/not sleeping because they are trying to communicate and/or learning how to be in the world. This takes an undetermined amount of time and is determined by the child’s natural development. You are a worthy mother, because you exist as this child’s mother and are always doing the best you can do with the information that you have.
I hope you find this helpful, because I really wish I had this kind of mindset when my boys were babies. I so would’ve enjoyed them more. There is a part of me that would like another child, just to prove to myself that I could handle it this time round and so that I would enjoy this incredible experience more than I did. However this is not going to happen, so I am just grateful that I know it now, so that my boys can grow up happy and loved with the ability to learn about the reality of life.