When I had my first child, I went to every class, read every book, blog and website. I wanted to know it all. Then he arrived and the problem was he hadn’t been to any classes, read any books, blogs or websites! I cried at his failure to follow the rules and he cried because I failed to listen to my instincts. I didn’t listen to myself or respect how I was feeling, I chose to ignore my instinct in favour of what the book said. The evidence is out there that listening to your babies helps them feel safe and secure in their attachment. A ‘safe’ child is more likely to manage difficulties in the outside world.
Joining a mother’s group changed my world. Meeting once a week in a hot, dark hall discussing burping, feeding and settling quickly became meeting once a day in the park or coffee shop discussing life, love and the latest celebrity shock. This group allowed me to learn from my mistakes and learn from their mistakes. They were my tribe. We all learned from our babies and built our resilience together.
Laughter is the best medicine and plays a vital role in protecting your mental health. If we feel good and are calm, we feel mentally well and better able to support our children. I learned to laugh when I located my tribe. We were bound together by tiny human beings whose only bond was sharing a birthday month. We established our roles and reached out to each other. This made parenting less isolating and gave us space to offload. As our babies grew, we also located our place in the community, offering support to the next group of new mums.
The strong connections I made with my tribe showed me that it was ok not being perfect; it was alright to do your own thing. As these feelings of love for myself became stronger and stronger, so did the love I felt for my baby. Parenting is still hard but I now enjoy the present, rather than worrying about whether I am doing it right.