Confidence in myself as a person has never been my strongest point, let alone being confident in myself as a mother. I think with a picture perfect life of parenthood painted across so many social media platforms, it’s easy to slip into a self doubt that seems to be bottomless.
This week, on the glorious, summery Wednesday that we had, I packed myself and Tyler a little picnic and we wondered off for a half an hour walk to a little park that I had just discovered on Google, just outside of town! If you had told me I would be doing that 3 months ago I would have quivered with anxiety and quietly returned to the sofa watching Jeremy Kyle with my baby boy.
I still remember the first time that I left the house with Tyler on my own. I bundled him into his pram and set off for the seven minute walk to Tesco’s to get soya milk because I was in desperate need of a coffee, obviously. Despite my anxiety flying through the roof, everything seemed to be going fine, that was until I got to the check out and Tyler started to have the biggest screaming/crying fit of his life. I felt so stupid for thinking that I could leave the house with a baby that was barely a few weeks old and hope that it would go as smoothly as it does on the TV. “Is he hungry?” the checkout lady asked. I don’t know. I don’t know.
Once I’d paid for my milk, I quickly exited the supermarket and marched home, pushing the pram as if we couldn’t get home fast enough, which we totally couldn’t. Tyler’s cries escalated with every step that I took and so did my overwhelming feeling of anxiety.
“People will think I’m a bad mother.” “What if someone thinks I’ve hurt him?” “Why won’t he stop crying?” Just a few of the things running through my mind, which I’m sure many other mothers will have thought when they first began to venture out with their newborns. At this point, we hadn’t really thought about colic and reflux, but a couple of weeks later, after speaking to the health visitor, our GP and trying some Infacol, Gaviscon and other baby friendly medicines, we realised that little baby Tyler was suffering with both colic and reflux. This was probably why he screamed his little heart out in the middle of the supermarket.
After this emotionally distressing outing, I didn’t dare leave the house with the baby in tow on my own and I pretty much swore to myself that I wouldn’t! I couldn’t risk a repeat of that day’s events.
Prior to this, when Tyler was two days old and we were both still in hospital and I was waiting for two blood transfusions, I had to bring my breast feeding journey to an abrupt end. My poor little baby was so hungry and due to my ill health there was just next to nothing being produced for him. This was actually the first time my confidence as a mother was kicked down. I’d only been this little human’s mother for a mere 48 hours and I was already losing all of the confidence I had spent 9 months trying to accumulate.
But here’s the thing. A) NEWSFLASH. Babies cry. A lot. And people don’t instantly assume that you’re doing anything wrong or that you’re a bad parent or incapable. Wind? Reflux? Upset Tummy? Overtired? Babies cry at pretty much anything, and B) I was not a bad mother, despite not yet feeling confident in my new role.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but, once I realised that babies do in fact, cry… a lot, and I shouldn’t feel like I need to leave wherever I am should Tyler start to stir, things started to get better. Instead of looking up at everyone that looked over with that deer caught in the headlights look, I ignored everyone around me and just focused on my baby. I’d try talking to him, giving him something to hold or if I could, just getting him out of his pram for a minute or two to settle him and suddenly, things became a lot easier. I started to feel a new type of confidence that I hadn’t felt before. I started to understand what my baby needed and when he needed it. I was beginning to find a confidence that I thought I had already lost forever before it even really made it’s appearance.
Fast forward to this week and I’m packing up a picnic, Tyler’s changing bag and some blankets so that the two of us can waltz, care free, to the park and have a beautiful afternoon together. Don’t get me wrong, I did have a few moments of, “what if Tyler gets super distressed whilst we’re in the middle of a park etc etc” creeping in, but the confidence inside me soon pushed those thoughts to the side and off we trotted!
I couldn’t tell you exactly when this confidence re-appeared, but this week it definitely took centre stage and honestly? I’m so bloody proud of myself. Yes, I still have days where Tyler screams the supermarket down and I do get a little uneasy and yes I do have days where I feel like I’m failing my son as a mother, but on the whole, I am well and truly on the path to finding my confidence as a mother.
I think the point of this post is just that I want to re-assure any mums, or dads, out there that are feeling as though they have no confidence in themselves as parents, or those who feel that they’ll be house bound and anxiety filled for the next five years, that I promise it will get easier.
So here’s to all the mums who are gaining more and more confidence each day and all the mums who haven’t yet started to build that tower of confidence but hey! You’re doing an absolutely amazing job already!