Sometimes when we become a parent, we go with the flow and just give it our best stab in the dark. We are overwhelmed with other parents (or even non-parents) telling us what we should do to raise our kids. We may not even know what style of parenting we are following. As time goes on, we start gaining confidence that ‘our way is right for us’ and find other parents following similar philosophies. For us, that approach to parenting was gentle parenting. When you first start reading about the themes of the type of parenting style you have chosen, you can be cast with guilt about whether you made the right choices so far in your journey, and how that will impact your children. If you were raised to be a perfectionist, perhaps by a narcissistic parent or through being over-praised for achievement based aims, you can reflect back only at the non-perfect aspects to your first couple of years as a parent. This was what happened to me and then I stumbled across an old poem I wrote…
I hazily survived my first year or 2 as a parent with such sleep deprivation and lack of knowing what I should do for the best. I reflect back and wonder if I was a good enough parent to my eldest, remembering times as not so picture perfect. For example I had zero idea how to wind her, for weeks, so just helplessly let her cry as I rocked her. Or when I raised my voice the first time she hit one of the newborn twins, as I had no expectation she would react towards one of them this way. I only really discovered gentle parenting was a ‘thing’ when my eldest was around 18 months old. I didn’t really take the science seriously or understand it fully at this stage either. When I thought back to the Mum I was for the first 2 years of my child’s life, I wondered ‘what if I wasn’t gentle enough’, ‘what if I did everything wrong’, ‘what if I’d known all the things I know now!’…
Then I stumbled across this poem I wrote when my eldest was only 7 months old. As I read it, I realised I was actually a pretty natural attachment parent even at that stage, only a few months into my parenting journey. I absolutely did things which I have since learnt could be improved upon but that’s part of my own learning. I may not have known the official stance called ‘gentle parenting’, but I can tell from my writing that I was already naturally following many of the ideas, at least more than my perfectionist memories allowed me to believe! I am sure others out there are the same. Our memories can get distorted by our feelings of not being good enough, combined with Mum guilt. If when we hear about gentle parenting and the philosophies and ideas ring right for us, then I’m sure you too were already well on your gentle parenting path, mistakes and all.
Poem About My 7 Month Old Baby
I’m sure people wonder why I didn’t wean you sooner
Why I’m not giving you a walker
Why you’re not in a sitting-up pram even though you’re getting older
And why you are still in your moses basket and not in your own big girls’ room
The reasons are I want you to be a baby
To choose to grow into a child
And care free of adult woes, grow into a blissful young lady
Why would I want to force you to walk before your time
Or sit before you need, or look at cars and houses from your pram
Why would I make you view the world through my eyes
My soul has seen it all. Too much. Take my pain away and it makes you.
Perfect as you are. Why would I want to imprint my own views of life and tarnish your innocence.
My intention is not to make you grow faster
Not to see the world out of my eyes but with laughter
To see out of your own eyes in your own sweet time
And to grow as strong as you can without any force or sign
So if it’s OK with you, I will allow you to be immature, fun, and see the world from a baby’s eyes
Because after all, that is what you are, a beautiful baby, without a need to see life from adult’s eyes
I want you looking upwards to the sky and drawing pictures out of the clouds and stars
That is where we adults lay our hope when all hope has gone, that maybe our loved ones are shining from up there, so I’m happy for you to aim high with your own eyes
Instead of wondering why, people should wish they were you with your eyes so round
Because you my baby are loved immensely, and still have a long time in your youth
Even in the years to come when we are just in a twinkle in the new star or a wisp among the clouds
You will know what true love is and feel it, regardless of how long it took you to make your baby steps to adulthood
Background to Writing This Baby Poem
When I read this poem back recently, I realised I did have a relatively gentle parenting aim. Responding to my baby’s needs through the night as well as day, trying your best to comfort them even when you can’t stop their tears, enjoying letting them grow into their own person in their own time… I was receiving a lot of negative comments about the choices we were making. I am surprised my daughter was that young when I wrote this actually, as 7 months seems so young now in hindsight. My youngest are now about to turn 2 years’ old and still feel so young. Shocking to think other parents can put such pressure on you to make your 7 month old baby independent. If you’re a new Mum to a small child and receive any comments about your gentle parenting choice, have faith that you’re doing a great thing even if you feel unsupported at the moment. Other people’s views may change as they see how amazing a family you are growing into. But most importantly, your own views of their opinions will change too. You will realise their opinions on your parenting styles are not important.