This post goes out to:
- childless peeps
- work colleagues
- the World War II/post-Hitler old-school granny massive
- Uber taxi drivers
- rich bitch dead behind the eyes supermums
- judgmental finger pointing family members
- and any old Tom, Dick & Sally with strong opinions about how to raise the child that you created with your very own organic egg or sperm.
People are always quick to give their two shillings about parenting — but of course never willing to scrub poo off your kitchen floor or suck snot out of your babies nose now are they?
Well, that’s a shame coz I really need a nanny/assistant/masseuse/cleaner/spiritual advisor/life coach/surgeon to give me a designer vagina, but most of all what mothers need is tender tender tender loving care.
We need to be bathed in honey and worshipped, not fed criticism to add to the pressures we already live and breath. It’s hard out here yo!
So STOP criticising.
And START helping and supporting mums. Especially mums with under 7-year-olds — coz the sleep deprivation is torturous. It’s so easy to make a mama’s day.
Here are a few ideas if you’re struggling. No excuses.
HOW TO HELP MUMS
If you’re a childless person sitting near a crying toddler on a train, DON’T smirk and think: “If I had a child they would never misbehave in public”, or take to Facebook to moan about sharing your precious airwaves with a distressed child.
Instead of being a c*nt, reach out and help distract the child by pulling a funny face or something. Just HELP!!! You were once a babbling, screaming snotty nosed, shitting in your pants baby too.
Trying to silence babies is like stopping someone with pneumonia from coughing. It’s cruel, and it’s also a waste of time because they can’t help being human just like some of you can’t help being a c*nt.
The worst of the critical bunch are the mothers who have popped out three children back to back, get a whiff of a life again then rush to declare their independence, stabbing us new mothers in the back in the process.
Rocking up to our home and expecting major hospitality 1 week post-partum, wondering why we can’t go out for cocktails two weeks post-partum, wondering why we can’t have a 2-hour phone conversation 3 weeks post-partum. Wondering why we can’t travel 90 minutes across town to see them 4 weeks post-partum.
How does a mother of 3 forget the struggle? Maybe we’re biologically designed to forget the struggle.
Ask my mum details of my childhood and she’s convinced I was walking, talking and praying to Jesus by 9 months. I was apparently never ever sick, ate everything, and was never any trouble at all. She genuinely doesn’t know what this motherhood fuss is all about. No wonder she had 4 children.
My grandma had 9 home births year after year. Pop pop pop! The last born was so big she had to down pints of Guinness and bite into a piece of wood to get through it quietly so she didn’t wake up the other 8 children.
She managed the children, the household and a top shoe business in Martinique. All 9 children naturally slept through the night from the womb to the cot. “No trouble at all”.
My grandmother didn’t have Uber, Google, a dishwasher, a washing machine or Deliveroo, so how did she do it ALL?
Nobody knows. It’s like an unsolved mystery from an episode of The X Files. She makes us modern mothers of today look like a bunch of lazy, neurotic lunatics with physically and mentally ill children to match.
I had a chat with a couple of grannies recently who proceeded to enforce their old school views on me. “In our day we smoked during pregnancy and breastfeeding to relax in the evenings.” “Don’t hold your baby too much, you’re spoiling her.” “Children must be seen and not heard.” “It’s ok to leave your child to cry until it stops crying, it’ll teach them independence.” And the classic: “You’re giving your child too much attention.”
Well, fuck those grannies.
They come from a world where rickets and polio were as normal as a cold today. What they did in the 1950s isn’t culturally appropriate in 2017.
So much research has been done over the past 30 years that proves time and time again that the more you hug your infants, the more their brains develop. The more you hold your baby the more secure and independent they become.
They need to throw away that WWII baby manual and rest their rickety hips. Filling your babies lives with love means they are more likely to be physically and emotionally healthier as adults. Hear, hear!
My theory is that mothers who have survived the wars of raising a toddler are struck by amnesia very soon after, like a 24hr Ebola virus, but without the death.
How can one forget the colic, tantrums, separation anxiety, sleep deprivation, the being up all night with a sick child, baby shit on your chest, vomit on your weave?
Maybe wiping the struggle and the hustle from a mother’s brain like something out of The Matrix is nature’s way of encouraging Mummy to continue populating the earth.
The first few years can be so traumatising — erasing memory is probably the only way a lot of mums will do it again.
And I’ve been there. My daughter slept through the night for the first time in months, then like a zombie I squeezed back into some ratchet pre-pregnancy lingerie, legs in the air ready for round two of unprotected sex. That wasn’t my choice, that was nature working at its reproductive best.
Forget the good old days lies and pressure from other mums — cus it’s fuelled by mother amnesia.
SLEEP LITTLE LIES
So back to my daughter’s world headline sleeping habits, which everyone on the street has a very important opinion on.
Here is just some of the unsolicited advice I’ve received on how to help my infant sleep through the night.
- Feed her pasta, cookies, cow foot or chicken feet before bed.
- Give her a bath every day in purified water blessed by the local priest.
- Eat litres of custard then breastfeed her (Nigerian Uber taxi driver).
- Swaddle her.
- Make sure she naps properly.
- Play Beethoven and Bach all day long.
- Stop giving her nutritional breastmilk.
- Replace nutritional breastmilk with tap water at night.
- Instead of organic human milk, give baby milk from mass-produced diseased 1-legged cows in a bottle filled with sugary cereal.
- Leave baby awake all day wired like a crack head then they will sleep all night.
- Read tons of books written by childless men or angry bearded nannies who hate children.
- Turn the baby mobile on to hypnotise your baby to sleep (My Health Visitor’s word for word advice).
If it was that easy to help babies sleep longer, then there wouldn’t be a million dollar baby sleep industry. The baby sleep industry is as ridiculous as the penis enlargement industry.
I doubt any mum on earth gets pleasure from sleep deprivation. We’ll do most things for sleep. We’ll suck a homeless man’s toe for some sleep.
And yes the crying it out method is the only method that works, but like a long-term fad diet, it’s only a quick fix for weight loss followed by the high risk of permanent damage.
Your baby could also just be one of the 20% who naturally sleeps through, so be happy and pop champagne every night if that’s you — but don’t be quick to hiss and judge other mums because you think you’re doing something special coz you’re not, you’re just a lucky bitch.
THE ULTIMATE SLEEP TRUTH
For the rest of us, no cow foot or voodoo will help. Most toddlers don’t naturally eat and sleep properly and that’s that.
It’s sadly a big inadequate loophole in evolution folks. Scientists argue we are genetically hunter-gatherers. They say babies wake frequently because they are not supposed to sleep alone in a dark room or they instinctively feel like they could be a predator’s late night finger-licking snack.
Study after study, research after research, has proven that most children under 3 have zero stability in their sleep. The sleep duration gets longer post 12 months, but the night wakings often continue until preschool. So 4 or 5 years of age. Sorry!
Think of your infant’s brain as a messy dusty building site. There’s so much construction work going on in the first 3 years, so we should just expect major disruption.
There’s so much going on in their heads; growth spurts, teething, rapid brain development, leaps, learning new skills, language development and so on. It’s almost impossible for them to settle at night when their minds are working on overdrive.
Some mothers are too posh to push so book in a caesarian, a tummy tuck, vajazzle and pedicure in one go, but the rest of the world has no control over when or how and how long labour will take. We accept that it’s in natures hands. This should also apply to how we raise our infants after they are born too.
But in realising this mega sleep truth, I am weirdly alone.
Most of my friends and family who had children have forgotten the sleep struggle (see: mum-nesia), so couldn’t offer me any decent advice. Books told me to micromanage the sleep. I took unsolicited advice from random strangers, lollipop ladies, streetwalkers and check-out girls. I listened to skinny rich-bitch twats on instagram gentrifying motherhood.
But I soon realised the best thing — that worked — was to follow my baby’s rhythm.
LISTEN TO YOU ONLY
So, I shaved my head, started afresh and surrendered to nature.
I stood on Catford High Street and declared:
- I will let nature take its course.
- Fuck whatever other people think.
- My daughter probably won’t sleep like an adult till she’s between 4-7 years old.
- I will have shit sleep for at least the next 7 years.
- I shall have my own thoughts about my own child.
- I shall kiss, hug, hold, love, smile and dance with my child despite what the WWII grannies say.
- I will not have a life for the first 3 years and that’s fine.
- I will give my heart and soul to raising my daughter with love and patience.
- The first 3 years are crucial for brain development so I will do my best to build her a healthy brain for the future.
And most importantly, join me in shouting:
THOU SHALL FOLLOW ONE’S INSTINCT UNTIL THE END OF TIME.
REPOST: I originally wrote this for http://www.wokemamas.com.