Mum’s the word

It has been a long day, and it was an even longer night. Poor Fredders is hot and bothered and incredibly snotty. I stayed home from work today as Momma’s instinct told me that my little boy needed snuggles and plenty of rest. We might not have been out enjoying the glorious sunshine, but we managed a 2hr afternoon nap which is unheard of in this house [I mean flat, don’t I] … of course the downside of a 2hr afternoon nap when one is not accustomed to such lengthy siestas, is waking up feeling groggy and jet lagged, and having to then cook tea … I hope the rest has done my poorly boy good, and I dearly hope tonight is more restful … I think I started praying a Memorare last night at 3.40am – the nuns would be proud. Maybe I’m still a closet Catholic after all …

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I needed to Blog this evening, and those of you who are Facebook friends will know why! Yesterday was quite monumental; finally after nearly 3 years, I was able to wear contact lenses again. Long story, gammy corneal ulcer in 2013, quite horrific … yadayada. Anyway, I was quite excited to get the lenses in and take a selfie. I happened to take this selfie whilst sitting in my parked car on the drive, letting Fredders sleep for a bit longer [and giving me the opportunity to catch up on emails and Radio 4 simultaneously] I tagged the photo with the comment What do you see (aside from a teething sleeping Fred in the back!) – contact lenses after nearly 3 years!!!! Woohoo! – By the time I checked social media at 5am this morning, there was a comment from an acquaintance informing me that Freddie’s chest straps on his car seat were “seriously loose” and that rear facing car seats are recommended up until 15months. There was also a reminder of the “two finger rule” for chest straps thrown in [I can think of my own two finger rule]. Bearing in mind my three hours of incredibly broken sleep, I read this comment and was incandescent – for many reasons – and reasons which I intend to hilight here, now I’ve calmed down and reflected …

Firstly, I hope I don’t need to declare that I wasn’t driving around with Freddie’s straps so loosely fitted. When we arrived home, I went to get him out of the car seat, loosened his straps [as I often do in this situation] and decided against moving him. I live on the first floor with no lift; so it is a mission to transfer a sleeping babe from car to cot without waking him. In fact, I can count the number of times I’ve managed it on one hand, and they have nearly always been rewarded with a glass of wine.

Secondly, I drive a very economical and lovely bright red C1 called Ludmila. She is wonderful, but rather small. Fred had no option but to go forward facing for safety when he progressed from his baby car seat. This is totally legal, and should not, in my opinion, provoke any comment …

You may think this explanation is long winded and unnecessary; several friends told me that I didn’t have anything to justify, and I know this is true. However, it DID rattle me. Every mother worries they aren’t doing a good job, that they are somehow failing their offspring; it is the classic mother’s guilt. Did someone think so little of my ability as a mother that they thought I would put my son in danger by driving around with him lolling about everywhere in his car seat? Is that the kind of mother people think I am? All these things were consuming my sleep deprived head … IT WAS A PHOTO ILLUSTRATING MY FUCKING CONTACT LENSES; which were a treat to myself, to Verity, who isn’t just Mummy. As others pointed out, they saw a selfie with beautiful sleeping baby in the back; nothing more.

The prevalence of social media [and hell yes, I love it] does create armchair experts in everything … and of course if you put things out there, you can expect feedback. However, would we say these things face to face, in the street to friends or strangers? I wholeheartedly agree that it “takes a village to raise a child“, and I do not consider myself overly sensitive or rejecting of criticism. However, it’s the implied stupidity which riled me. Perhaps said person was being helpful, perhaps this comment came from a good place, as another friend suggested. Perhaps some people do drive around with their children not strapped in, with badly fitting car seats and maybe there are a few who even take selfies whilst driving along … but I would err on the side of caution when putting such comments in the public domain to people we don’t know. There is a classical [cheesy?] Plato quote “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” – timeless, and true. It is so much harder with the written word to understand the sentiment behind the typing. It is impossible to know whether that person is exhausted and struggling when they read your words … so maybe we all need to be a little kinder. I include myself in this, as many months ago I lost a friend over a Blog I wrote detailing her response when Fred started playing with her baby’s keys. I didn’t name her, but she knew I was referring to her – and it upset her … mea maxima culpa.

We are all, most of us, ordinary mums, juggling a lot of balls in the air, worrying the same universal worries, loving our children, wanting the best for them, worrying we’re not good enough for the job. My message to you all this evening, is quite simple – if you love your children and they are going to bed with full tummys and clean pyjamas, then you have no need to worry. We are stronger than we think.

 

 

 

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