I’m Claire (another one!), married to Mark with one lovely boy, James, who just turned two at the end of May. Baby no2 is in the oven & due to be ready around the end of August.
When pregnant with James, I fully intended to breastfeed but, beyond that, I expected to be a cry it out, no ‘pandering’, naughty step using mummy.
James was not the only new person born that day in May. I’ll not compare myself to a butterfly, how about a snake shedding its old skin? That day a change began- I slowly discarded who I thought I was (or should be) and discovered me. Turns out, me is quite the hippy – breastfeed for 18 months, co-sleep most of the time. I consider myself a baby-led parent (although didn’t BLW as it scared me. Like I say, gradual work in progress!)
I did try crying it out one night. It was actually husband who came running up the stairs & lifted a hysterical, sweaty James from his cot. That was an epiphany moment- screw what the mass media would have me believe I ‘should’ be doing, I was going with my instinct. I always believed if a baby cried, it was for a reason. Maybe not one of the ‘valid’ reasons we’re told- hunger, wet nappy or pain- but still a reason. Who doesn’t just sometimes need a cuddle?!
So, that explains how I try to parent. Being sensitive to my child’s needs. That his behaviour is always for a reason.
However… Being 29 weeks pregnant, with quite bad pelvic girdle pain & an increasingly energetic two year old, I find my ‘instinctive’, hopefully gentle, parenting requires much more of a conscious effort. I’m doing my best but I am not a robot. When exhausted, I have been known to get snappy. I know that it is not a coincidence that since I have started struggling that James’ behaviour has also changed and this makes me feel terrible.
I think parenting is fluid. To date, my ‘me’ time of choice has always been family time or just James & I. So now it’s accepting that actually what will help me be the best parent I can, & to parent in the way that I want, is to take time to REST. It’s a struggle- that old parenting constant: GUILT.
But the journey that started in Craigavon MLU in May 2011 is an ongoing one. The lessons I am learning now will make me a better parent. A gentle parent.