Dear overzealous/ pretending to be helpful, ‘experienced’ mother.
I currently have a happy, healthy, and more importantly, a fully functioning (that is the most important thing right) toddler today. You know that advice you gave me about how I have to persevere at every mealtime with pureed spinach or my daughter will never eat vegetables because I gave in and fed her fruit purees instead (she constantly spat them out on my face)? Well, I can debunk that myth for you right now. She eats a normal and varied diet. No, her teeth haven’t fallen out because I gave her a packet of baby crisps whilst she threw a tantrum in the stroller (yes, I saw your face tighten into a frown as she munched away happily).
To my ‘experienced’ friend, your advice on getting my daughter to crawl only stopped her from crawling for another 3 months. In fact, she skipped the crawling stage altogether and went on to take her first steps early.
To the woman in playgroup, I know you meant well when you told me how you got your child to sleep through the night from 3 months. But you see, the thing is, every child is different. So rather than gloating to all of us at the playgroup that your baby sleeps through since birth, and insisting we must be doing something wrong which is why our babies don’t sleep, it would have been nicer if you had just acknowledged that everybody was doing their best. If it makes you happy, we eventually managed to get our daughter to sleep only after she grew out of her colic (yes, in case you didn’t know, colic is a thing that disturbs your baby’s sleep and hell hath no fury like a colic baby).
To the health visitor who kept turning up as if to catch me off guard, and then proceed to give me a lecture on how we haven’t met important ‘milestones’ and to nag us at why our ‘weaning’ progress was so slow (okay so my daughter ate purees a little longer than other children), why she was still being breastfed so many times during the day (only two times maximum apparently once they’re fully weaned), why she was drinking through a bottle (her teeth will rot) and when she will be mastering all the important skills such as ‘pincer grasp’ and ‘chewing’. I really wasn’t quite sure if you were truly worried about her development. That tell-tale sigh you gave when you realised you would have to make another visit as we couldn’t tick all the boxes off your narrow checklist gave away how annoyed you were.
To the woman in Primark, who stared and kept tutting, then offering loud advice on how to stop your ‘spoilt’ children from throwing a tantrum; it is completely normal for toddlers to have tantrums. We do our absolute best to discipline and help them grow, but they still act beyond our expectations sometimes and, as parents, we just have to learn to deal with it. I’m sorry if it disturbed your shopping trip. You’ll be happy to know her tantrums are now few and far between but your complete lack of understanding the situation and tutting did nothing but further aggravate me and distress her further.
To my dear mother, I know you always have my best interests at heart but if you tell me one more time that ‘we’ were much better behaved, not as ‘demanding’ and ‘we’ rarely cried, I shall give your memory a gentle jog down the memory lane of my terrible teen years.
To all the zealots who pressure, guilt and ‘offer’ your ‘experienced’ advice on how your way of raising children is the only way, I sincerely hope you realise that everyone is different and there is no one size fits all in bringing up children. As long as our children are healthy and happy, this is all that matters. We should be giving each other moral support, instead of comparing, making each other feel small because we haven’t reached certain ‘milestones’ or tearing each other down because our child has managed to ‘master’ a skill quicker than everyone else.
To all the mothers who have experienced the ‘zealot’ mothers, you are doing a great job. Celebrate your small successes, embrace the fact that we are all different and you will be a much happier parent!