Doing my best

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I have no idea why, but when I recently saw a new mum taking her first steps as a first time mum with her newborn in a pram I had a conversation in my head which made me laugh and cry at the same time. I smiled at this beautiful young first time mama with a content smile radiating from her pretty face, she looked so young and so capable, she smiled back and the unspoken pride was all too evident to see.

“Oh beautiful girl with your perfect baby” I wanted to say to you “nothing, but nothing, prepares you for motherhood, the most predictable thing about babies and children is that they’re unpredictable and don’t listen to anyone who dictates advice or read every parenting book, because you and your baby are all that matters and you must find your way, shortcuts and don’t feel compelled to conform to the mummy mafia”, instead I said “oh morning, enjoying the weather, how many weeks?”, 3 she replied. That was all!

This time 16 years ago I was told that first babies don’t arrive on their due dates (she did), I must have this { insert some must have item } because { insert some ridiculous reason } (needless to say I didn’t), I really should join this club and that organisation (why?) and a whole load of other kind and well meaning information. I too smiled sweetly.

I can’t even begin to think what the best piece of advice was that I was given but I remember our old nanny saying “are you one of those clever girls who can change a nappy on your lap?” I said “oh yes of course” and did it under the watchful eye of our spinster nanny who had watched the third generation of bums being changed on laps. No-one taught me how to I just found it out one day, trial and error perhaps.

All too often we are over prepared and planning goes wrong with no contingency for time delays or flexibility. Raising a family is hard work which at times requires a contingency plan, plenty of fresh air, a coping strategy and a bucketload of flexibility. As a new parent I gave up over analysing and second guessing, instead I worried about the traffic jam in travel time and I hope that the girl I saw the other day has the strength to worry about her traffic jams in travel time.

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