Motherhood and the Various Shades of Grey

It’s a constant source of surprise and amusement when I look back on strongly held beliefs I had about being a parent before I had actually become one. Things seemed so straight forward and, in hindsight, so black and white…I’ll never use a dummy, of course I’ll be able to breastfeed and it goes without saying that I’ll be a beacon of patience and inner light. I mean really, how hard could this ‘yummy mummy’ thing be? Ha!

I reminisce on what I now recognise as delusions and chuckle. How naive I was. Now that I’m a Mum I realise how few things about being a parent are straightforward – ‘duh’ you might say but a lesson learnt it’s been. Instead of what used to seem like clear-cut, obvious ‘right or wrong’ choices, there are now about 1,000,001 shades of grey on pretty much any parenting topic you could possibly think of.

I remember how easy being a parent seemed when you didn’t actually have to be one

It was so easy to judge parents with crying babies who were sitting at cafes. Why weren’t they doing whatever it took to keep their baby calm and content? It never dawned on me that perhaps that was exactly what they were doing. Now I know that sometimes the only way I get to eat lunch is to suffer through a few grizzles because, until the human race evolves with mothers who have four arms, I can’t make a sandwich, eat it, drink a cup of coffee and cuddle my baby at the same time.  I also know that a cranky Mummy resulting from food deprivation and caffeine withdrawal is not a good outcome for anyone. Cranky Mummies certainly don’t make an appearance in the ‘yummy mummy’ paradigm!

It was so easy to view dummies as the ‘lazy option’ or the demise of the amazing communication prowess of an infant. Now I think “if it helps and makes life that little bit easier” then why wouldn’t you make use of it? At times the only thing that brings comfort to my son is to suck and that, if given the chance, he would spend the better part of a day permanently attached to my breasts achieving said comfort if it was on offer. Now while, for the most part, his needs do come before mine there are inevitable limits. And for me, a happy and content baby makes for a relaxed mummy. Cranky babies also don’t generally feature in the ‘yummy mummy’ montage.

But then this is just what works for me, and what works for me may not work for any other parent but that doesn’t make it better or worse…just another shade of parenting.

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt as a parent is that nothing is ever as it seems

I realise now just how much the saying ‘never judge a book by its cover’ applies to parenting. I’ve loved exploring the various shades of grey in the big and small decisions so far and look forward with anticipation to all that lies ahead….

This, of course, doesn’t mean that I still don’t have my opinions (and I certainly do) but at least nowadays I feel like they come with some perspective and they generally appear in the context of my own experience…but that’s a topic for another day.

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