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Saturday, 13 February 2016

First time mums

The truth about becoming a first time mum

I liken First Time Mums to learner drivers. 

We were all there once, for some of us not so long ago, but once you aren't one any longer you suddenly know better.  Just like learner drivers, First Time Mums begin to irritate you irrationally and you find you now have limited patience for them. OK they don't drive in front of you at 20 miles an hour and take an age to turn right at a junction but you get what I mean.

Being so irritated by them is of course highly unfair; parenting does not necessarily improve with subsequent children. However, like it or not, second, third, fourth time mums, old hands at this parenting lark, are likely to roll their eyes a lot in the presence of a first timer.

Why? Well, most of us as parents-to-be for the first time do have preconceived ideas of what it will be like. 

Me, the day I became a first time mum
to a bewildered baby
Without wishing to belittle those that have no children, before you become a parent, you can't possibly know. You just can't. Looking after siblings, pets, babysitting, being a nanny... None of it can adequately illustrate how relentless being a parent actually is. I cringe when thinking of a conversation I had whilst pregnant; my dog had been sick all over the floor at 3am and I commented that I was really tired and that it was preparing me for impending motherhood. In order to be in any way applicable, the dog would have had to scream for the rest of the night and then his sister would have demanded pancakes at 6.30am.

Of course, I was attempting to be humorous, and fortunately to a small audience, but any parents listening would have tried their best to contain their smug smiles. 'Ah bless,' they would have thought, perhaps with a tilt of their head or a roll of their eyes 'a First Time Mum. Boy, is she going to be in for a shock'. They were not wrong.

Although naivety of a greater or lesser extent probably bonds most first time mums, there are a few stereotypes of first timers which - while fortunately few and far between - are much worse.
I will never use a dummy, and other things I'm
glad I never said out loud
The first knows absolutely everything and likes to voice their opinions loudly and unbidden. They won't give their child a dummy, the baby will sleep in their cot and never in their parents' bed, they'll have a routine from the first week and stick to it because it worked for their sister in law. These ones usually go quite quiet when the baby is actually born, unless they happen to be blessed with a sleeping, self-settling baby who doesn't want a dummy, in which case they will continue to be smug and firmly believe that they know everything, bestowing their unwanted parenting tips upon anyone who will listen and remaining irritating until their second or third child delivers the karma they so richly deserve.

Other mums are continually nervous and over-think every little thing, questioning every decision as if whether to give a baby avocado for lunch will change the course of their life. These mums convince themselves daily that something is wrong; every sniffle is a deadly illness, every bump a visit to A&E. Pictures of its soiled nappy will be uploaded to the internet or whatsapped to mum friends in a panic. They'll probably never forget to turn the baby monitor on and they definitely won't lock their baby in the car
Totally smiling aged three weeks and
not wind. How dare you imply that
Obviously a little bit of worry is a good thing; after all, these most precious of beings rely on us, their parents, for every little thing. 

A call to 111 or a visit to the GP is obviously better than a seriously ill baby. But absolutely no good can come of sleep deprived Googling at 3am. I dread to think how these parents will fare when their child starts school, or becomes a wayward teenager. I worry enough about how I will cope with these, and I'm really more of an 'unless it's falling off it's probably OK' kind of parent.

Also deserving of a mention are the super competitive mums who are convinced that their little Einsteins are saying words by four months old and reading Chaucer by the time they are one. You'll be able to identify them through their Facebook streams, with photos of young babies propped into unlikely positions and captions such as 'look at little buddy, 7 weeks old and standing already!' or 'I'm sure I ordered a baby and not a toddler! LOL!'.  This can also go the other way; their baby is the best at something, or the absolute worst. There seems to be a lot of competition over who has the worst night's sleep, however let me tell you now, this is one competition a first time mum is very unlikely to win.

When I became a mum for the second time, I could not get over how easy a baby was in comparison to a toddler.

I wondered how I ever found it so hard just having the one, and he was (and still is) a very difficult baby. But I did. It is really hard. Like landing on an alien planet and realising you're there to stay, so you have to suck it up and get on with it despite being bewildered and entirely out of your depth, not to mention more sleep deprived than you've ever been before. You will have moments of pure quiet joy, staring blissfully in awe at your baby... But you'll probably have many weeping into your pillow wondering why it's not anything like TV, or NCT, or anything prepared you for.

In contrast, when the second one arrives, you've already been living in this strange world for a few years and are at least starting to make sense of the language and becoming more comfortable with the strange customs and smells. I almost wish I could go back to visit myself as a First Time Mum and offer myself the wisdom of my experience.

But then I'd become one of the Second Time Mum patronising wankers, and don't get me started on them.

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  1. Yep, STMs they assume their experts because they had their one child a few months before yours.

    1. I'm a fan of the old birthboard visits from people a few months ahead of you. 'Ask me anything!'. OK, why are you a patronising twat?

  2. So funny. I think I might be some of these people though. Oops!

    1. I think it's possible everyone is, in a way. At least most of us see the error of our ways eventually!

  3. Ha ha this is brilliant, although I cringe that I can be very "first time mumish"! Although I'm well against the googling now. You're right though until you have a baby you just don't have a clue! xx #bigpinklink

    1. I think we all can, it's the learner driver thing. No one gets into car able to drive BUT the difference is you wouldn't tell someone how to do it, whereas people seem to have a lot of opinions on how to be a parent before they become one. ALL of us.

  4. I love the comparison to learner drivers. And save us from competitive mums! It used to upset Mother some posts or comments - was I developing at the right pace? Should she be doing more? She's over it now and no longer compares. x #bigpinklink

    1. I'm sure you're perfect.
      I've not come across many of these competitive mums except online. The internet is bizarre, it brings out a lot of weirdness in people!

  5. Hahahaha....I must confess that I was a over-worrier with my #1 but then I was like "oh, ok, whatever" with the subsequent kids. I can actually identify the moms which you have described - too true! You can spot them a mile awa. Nowadays I just smile and nod because I am way past that stage. Thanks for linking with #bigpinklink

    1. They might be caricatures... but there are one or two people I've met that fit them quite well!

    2. Haha us second timers are dicks. ����


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