Okay, perhaps I should clarify the title just a teensy bit:
1) I love my son, who shall hereafter be known simply as T.
2) I genuinely can’t remember what life was like without him (though that is most likely due to extreme sleep deprivation wiping 98% of my memory- I can barely remember my name these days).
3) I wouldn’t change him for the world
BUT, how the effing heck does everybody else in the world (not to mention every parent in history) manage to do this parenting lark and retain at least the semblance of sanity? I have started to wonder if it’s just me. Am I manifesting some new psychological disorder which turns what should essentially be one of the most straightforward, instinctive things in life into an all-consuming (physically, mentally and emotionally) Herculean task. I mean there are days when I almost pee myself, not because of a combination of a sneeze and my horribly pregnancy-weakened pelvic floor, but because I never get round to actually going to the bathroom. Oh and yes, I often end up taking T with me because I can’t stand the sound of his crying (and I’m also scared that the dog might eat him). Is it really just me? Reading posts from other mums on parenting forums (and I rarely read much else these days) it seems that there is an ever-increasing number of us afflicted with an extreme case of what a fabulous Mumsnet thread terms ‘Precious Firstborn Syndrome’ http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/parenting/346540-your-top-pfb-precious-first-born-moments/AllOnOnePage
Of course every first time mum is at risk of becoming a bit obsessed and no doubt we’re genetically programmed to do just that – prehistoric babies wouldn’t have survived for very long if their mothers left them to their own devices while they popped next door to check out their neighbours new cave paintings or buggered off to hunt down some bunnies to turn into new sandals- but with the advent of what feels like 16 billion different parenting experts, guides and constantly conflicting advice (wonderfully summarized here: http://cogitoergomum.me/2014/11/02/how-to-be-a-parent-20-sure-fire-ways-to-guarantee-happy-well-adjusted-children/) about how best to bring up baby, then new mothers (by which I specifically mean me) find themselves in a relentless cycle of feeling like they are probably not doing things quite right and that everyone else is almost certainly doing a better job than them.
Glance at any parenting forum aimed at parents of parents of babies under 6 months and it’s the same questions and fears, over and over again, regarding sleeping, eating and getting your child to hit developmental milestones. Mums posts links to other websites and blogs and articles and posts for the benefit of other mums all repeating exactly the same mantra ‘you’re normal, your baby’s normal, you’re doing a good job’ yet still we question our own judgement and ability to parent.
From my own perspective, I think my fear of fucking up as a parent leaves very little room for doing anything other than being a mummy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable with my decision to become an attachment parenting, baby-wearing, breastfeeding, cosleeping, no TV and good lord, I’m never going to let my child eat anything containing sugar (and that includes evil fruit juice) type of mother but it does also make me slightly envious of women who have the courage to say ‘fuck-it, I’m off out for a drunken night out with the girls, see you in the morning’.