What if I don’t love my child?

fear___monster_under_the_bed_by_fireleaper7772-d3d2yca
My monsters and me

I’ve got 8 weeks till Due Date. EIGHT WEEKS. I go through periods of intense panic about logistical things (kitchen is being renovated; we haven’t finished the nursery; the Christmas tree is still outside!) to intense calm (meh, we can move in with Mr Bug’s parents if we need to).

But, underlying all of this, is a deeper, more intransigent set of fears that are harder to express. When I try – when I give it a go – people say “Don’t be silly!” or “It’ll all be FINE”. And…that’s the end of the conversation.

Certain fears – and certain realities – are very taboo. I have the feeling that even voicing them can make people uncomfortable. It’s easier to dismiss the very idea as preposterous, ridiculous, the fears of a totes emosh pregnant lady freaking out 8 weeks before the birth of her first child.

I would like to express my fears around becoming a parent without feeling like I’m doing the equivalent of worrying about monsters under my bed. These fears are real; people actually have children and feel like this. If we talked about it more, we might fear it less.

So, after that dramatic introduction, what are these fears?

The scariest one – the one that can make me pause a moment and catch my breath – is the fear that I won’t love my child. I fear that I’ll give birth and someone will hand him over to me and I will feel nothing. Or, worse, I will feel revulsion or panic. That I will want to hand him back.

I’m quite good at loving people. I love my family and my close friends and I’ve had quite a lot of experience with how to love people. But this is totally different, this isn’t like any other relationship I’ve ever had, and I have zero guarantees about how my heart and mind will react. I THINK I’ll love him; I’m pretty SURE that I will; I see NO REASON why I wouldn’t. But.

Another fear – and they are all linked – is that I will regret having him. That he’ll come along and everything in my life will change and I’ll look back and decide that, on balance, it was better before he turned up.

Again – I have no reason to believe that I will think that way but I’m marching at light-speed into the unknown right now. I have absolutely no idea what the day to day struggles of parenthood are like or how I’m going to react to them.

The final fear I’m going to voice here is the fear that I won’t like my child. This has been something that has stayed with me every since reading “We need to talk about Kevin” (such an interesting book by the way!). The idea of nurturing a child, of investing everything into them, only for them to turn out to be a bit of an arsehole (or mass murderer in the case of Kevin – but something a little less apocalyptic would still be distressing) sounds pretty gutting. I know I’m naively foraying into the nature vs nurture debate here but the fact that there is still a debate going on means I can’t 100% assume that my amazingly awesome (obvs) parenting skills will ensure that Baby Bug doesn’t turn out to be a total wanker.

Ah. I feel better already. I don’t want to know that these things aren’t going to happen but saying them (or writing them down) means they are a lot less scary. It also means I can think about these things logically – both in terms of “this is probably not going to happen because x, y and z” but also (and importantly), “if it DOES happen, this is what you can do”.

The little monsters under the bed will still be there, and I’m very likely to spend the next 8 weeks having a little panic about them every so often, but confronting them makes them a lot less scary (and makes me feel a lot less like a crazy person).

ethannevelyn
Marvellous Mondays badge by Hello Archie
Mummuddlingthrough

F*** the guilt, ladies

Scared baby against crazy mother

I often see comments and posts about how being a Mum means you feel guilty all the time. As a Mum-to-be, I found that intriguing yet, even without being a Mum, I understood the sentiment. I was also heartened to see that there’s a real ‘push’ against making Mums feel guilty in the parenting blogosphere – a movement away from judging and denouncing and more toward being supportive and inclusive.

That’s awesome. But why is it necessary in the first place? What is it about being a Mum that means we have to accept being under the spotlight and prepared (and ready) to justify our parenting decisions, whether they’re related to how we give birth, where our child sleeps, whether we breastfeed or not, or anything else (that has absolutely zero to do with anyone else in the entire world). The reality seems to be that you’re going to feel shit no matter what you do because, whatever decision you do make, there will be people who do it Differently and then you’ll either feel guilty or they’ll try and make you feel guilty, and it’s a whole mess of judgey pants and guilty pants, and you have to roll your eyes and ignore it if you can.

But there’s something quite important about this guilt – it’s actually not about being a Mum; it’s about being a woman. Women are brought up primed to feel guilty. We are taught to internalise everything, to look at our own behaviour, to see what WE can change or do differently/better. Men are not taught this. Men are taught that they can be confident, that they can be in control, that being assertive is awesome (assertive isn’t even a word men have to use, it’s just ‘being a man’), and they don’t have to worry about labels like “bossy” or “feisty”.

Let’s take one of the most extreme, horrendous examples of this: sexual assault and rape. Women are told to be careful; don’t drink too much; don’t wear short skirts; don’t flirt. Men are told…well, what exactly are men told? Nothing much. The focus has historically been on women to consider their actions rather than on men to just, y’know, not rape. Happily, things *are* changing and we’re taking steps away from the vomit-inducing “don’t get too drunk on a night out, ladies” to messages like the awesome Tea and Consent video from Thames Valley Police. Consent is everything but it has absolutely NOT been the overriding focus in cases of rape and sexual violence – women have been the focus.

I’m using this example to show that we live in a society that will blame a woman for something terrible happening to her because of someone else’s horrific actions – an extreme example but an important one. And women will take this blame; they will blame other women; they will accept that status quo because we are socially conditioned to do so. We grow up being expected to judge other women on everything because we are judged in turn. We grow up unsure, insecure, always examining our own actions, afraid. And then, when we become Mums, all of that insecurity, that fear, is magnified a million times because, if we make mistakes, we aren’t just harming ourselves, we’re harming the little person or little people that we want to protect more than anything in the whole world. That, to us, is unforgivable. We worry that we will fail those little people, no matter how much we love them because we are always responsible, it’s always our fault and we should always do better.

This was really brought home to me during a recent #matexp twitter chat. One sentiment, which blew my mind, was from women who felt as though they had ‘failed’ at giving birth. The reasons for this feeling of failure varied hugely but, oh my god, can we take a moment to consider how insane that is? These are women who have managed to successfully give birth to their babies and yet they feel as though what they did wasn’t quite good enough. I haven’t given birth yet and I’m really quite scared (er, petrified!) of it. To me, any woman who has managed to give birth to her baby – IN WHATEVER WAY THAT HAPPENED – is a freakin’ rockstar. It breaks my heart that they, themselves, don’t feel that way because of these ridiculous and impossible pressures and standards that society places on women – especially when it comes to pregnancy and parenting. This is where we need to push back, to be more assertive, and to tell the world to stop effing judging and start supporting each and every mother and the choices that she makes.

Birth is the most visceral example but there’s breastfeeding, sleeping, weaning, using dummies…the list goes on and on. Every decision that you make will be one that you make fearing that someone will think you’re a damn idiot for making it. But this all stems from our insecurities, our conditioning, our expectation that we will be judged and should judge others – it’s a really shit, anti-feminist self-fulfilling prophecy. If I decide not to give my kid a dummy and I shout really loudly about it then hopefully others will agree with me and no one will tell me that I’m a bad Mum because, as I haven’t been allowed to feel confident in the decisions that I make my entire life, I really don’t want anyone to tell me I’m a bad Mum and, if anyone else does something differently (like, er, give their kid a dummy) that will make me feel like one because they’ve made a different decision to me and what does that say about me and OH MY GOD THE SKY IS FALLING IN.

Seriously f*** that. It’s time for ALL of us to feel confident in what we’re doing with our own bloody children and supporting other Mums in their choices, even if they’re different from ours. If my mate wants to have an elective caesarian and I’m all about my natural birth then that’s freaking awesome and I can’t wait to meet her afterward and toast to how awesome we both are over a well-deserved glass of Prosecco. As is clear in this post, there is a wider, social sickness of condemning and undermining women that we can’t expect to fight all on our own – but we’re starting with the little things, the parental support networks, the confidence-building (our own and others), the empathy and understanding. Hopefully from that, other things with flow.

Vive la difference.

If you like my ramblings, please follow my blog with Bloglovin!

Mummuddlingthrough
The Twinkle Diaries

Do you want your kids to grow up like you?

globe
This is a subject that is really, really close to my heart and one that I don’t yet have any answers to – so expect more related posts in the future!

I didn’t grow up in the UK. I came here for university when I was 18. My dad is British, my Mum isn’t, so, while it’s part of my heritage and I’ve always called myself British (I have a British accent too), I don’t think I ever really expected to settle here for the rest of my life.

Cue Mr Bug, Surrey boy born and bred, walking into my life. My expectations about my future life have had to undergo quite a big change and I think one of the hardest parts of this change has been the realisation that I may very well br bringing up my children in the UK.

That’s really strange for me. Because it means that they won’t have the upbringing and the childhood that I had. I grew up abroad, in four countries – before moving to the UK. A big chunk of my identity has been growing up surrounded by different cultures and identities – the different-ness rather than the same-ness of those around me. I went to an international school which was a melting pot of nationalities – the common thing that bound all of us is that we were growing up in a country that wasn’t our own. Even now, people who grew up like I did ‘get’ me in a way that people who grew up in a small town in Scotland get each other. There is a commonality there, if that’s a word.

There’s lots of positives about my upbringing. There are also negatives: I’ve never had one place to call home; I’ve never put down roots; the answer to the question “Where are you from?” is always fraught with difficulty. But it’s such a key part of my identity that it’s odd to imagine that I won’t be passing this on to my children.

We live in Surrey at the moment, about an hour from where Mr Bug spent his entire childhood. There are lots of real positives about his upbringing. There are also negatives. But it’s the negatives that scare me because they aren’t MY negatives, they aren’t the drawbacks that I can identify with as the same drawbacks I went through, growing up. I worry about navigating my children through these because I have no experience of them; they are foreign to me.

I worry that I’m being too prescriptive. I guess the main issue is that I know my childhood was a good one and I know it worked because I lived it. I imagine it’s harder to guide your own children through someone else’s childhood, through someone else’s life. You want what is best for them and, often, what is ‘best’ (in your small world view) is what you have tried and tested yourself.

This is how I feel now, who knows what I’ll think and feel when Baby Bug actually turns up next March? I will just have to wait and see.

If you like my ramblings, please follow my blog with Bloglovin!

It’s my birthday!

438b4744860c384ecabe246d64bf1d91

Let’s face it, when you hit adulthood, birthdays start to become slightly less exciting. I can’t say that I’ve been particularly looking forward to mine but it’s here now so I should try and make the most of it. Despite sounding like a moody b*gger, I do have a lot of things that I’m super grateful for and, as my Mum said in her text to me earlier, this birthday is special as I’m sharing it with Baby Bug. My next birthday will be even more special – my first as a Mum myself. So here’s a list of things making me happy and moody today:

  • George Osborne is a twat.
  • Hyperemesis doesn’t seem to realise it’s my birthday which is very rude.
  • My house is messy and I really need to clean it up.
  • We bought a pram/stroller/travel system thing. We went for the Silver Cross Wayfarer and I’ll do a post on that and my initial thoughts soon.
  • I’ve had lovely messages wishing me a happy birthday from friends and family.
  • Tonight, Mr Bug may be taking me out for a quick meal. This will be the first time since I got sick which means the first time since we got married!
  • My birthday always signifies Halloween is here and then BOOM suddenly we’re on countdown to Christmas. I love Christmas so this is a good thing.

I hope everyone has a lovely Tuesday, cuddles up with their loved ones and takes some time out today. That’s my plan.

If you like my ramblings, please follow my blog with Bloglovin!