While I was growing up I heard an awful lot about how I “kicked” my mother “out of shape”, that I “ruined her body” and that I “made her fat”. Personally, years later, I’ve come to the conclusion that a turkish delight addiction and a fear of exercise had a lot more to do with it than being pregnant with her third child. When my father found out about this (last year) he confirmed in no uncertain terms that it wa nothing to do with being pregnant but rather the chocolate..!
So anyway, this was something that I’d been told so much as I was growing up that I came to believe that pregnancy ruined bodies and all mother’s would resent their child for it. It was on my mind on and off and definitely a hurdle to get over in the inward battle on whether to have kids. Eventually the old body clock started ticking and I relised I wasn’t getting any younger so we set off on our baby journey with gusto!
Several months later when baby was on her way I completely fell in love with my bump, I stared at it for hours just to see the odd flicker of movement, I loved how tops clinged to and showed off my ginormous bump and I felt nothing but pride when people asked when she was due. My body was making a baby and I wanted everyone to know.
After she was born I was hit by a few ‘shocks’…I had no idea that I’d be left with belly sag (all my baby weight was on my bump) or that the hair on my head would grow in where I hadn’t even realised I’d lost it and I’d end up with spikey sideys! I had no idea about the post-birth sweats or the tummy that looked a little like an albino tiger.
It was then that the comments of my childhood came back and I realised that I would never, ever say anything of the kind to my daughter. Not only would it be unkind and unjust but it would be massively untrue…
My baby didn’t RUIN my body, my baby MADE my body.
Without these marks and stretchy skin I wouldn’t have the most precious thing in my life. It truely is a testament to what my body has done, I and every other mum, has baked a baby and we should be proud of that very fact not blaming our children and making it a negative thing for them to feel guilty over.
And so it’s on this note that I’ve decided to put down in black and white 5 things that I want my daughter to know and believe; 5 things I’ve learnt not to do from my own childhood.
1) Blame is someone elses issue.
I will never blame her for the changes we made when she came along. It was our choice to have her and we wanted her for such a long time before she arrived that who cares if we don’t have annual fancy holidays or the chance to do exactly as we want anymore. It’s not her fault but a choice we made so that we could share our life with little people and it’s a decision that I would make time and time again.
I want her to know that when someone blames her for the way their life has turned out etc. she has to look past the blame and work out why that person needs to blame her in the first place. Is it jealousy? Is it confidence? Is it control? Whatever the reason I want her to think critically about what’s being said and rise above it knowing that’s it’s their issue but never, ever let it affect her confdence.
2) To think independently
When I was growing up I was encouraged by my father to think independently and whether he liked my opinion or not he heard me out and showed me respect. I could talk to him about *almost* anything and I recall a conversation when I was a teenager where her asked me if I’d try drugs. My response was that I wasn’t really that interested but I guess I’d never rule it out – gotta try things in life, right?! He never batted an eyelid and trusted me to do what was right (and I didn’t let him down…in that respect anyway!)
On the other hand a large influence on my life was trying to teach me the complete opposite – if I had an independent thought I was hung out to dry until I rethought the error of my ways and came round to their way of thinking. This led to years of battles where I had to agree or be ‘punished’ when I really wanted to shout my opinion. Myabe that’s why I loved 1984 so much, I could identify…
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” ― George Orwell, 1984
I want my daughter to know that no matter what she does, says or thinks, even if it’s against me I will support her right to think and say it so long as it’s delievered with honesty and respect. Her opinions matter and not being able to express them is damaging to her. We won’t always get along as a family and we will argue but I want us all to be able to talk it over and agree to disagree.
3) To stand up for herself
Kind of like number 2 but in this sense I want her to know her own mind and not be afraid of showing it. I want her to know that when she says ‘no’ it means ‘no’ and that she has the right and power to say ‘no’ to anything she wants (except eating her greens…) I want her to be strong, sure of her decisions and willing to follow them through.
4) To be independent
We’ve always wanted to encourage her to travel, before she came along we made photo books of our travels to show her there’s a big wide world out there. I want her to be independent Now she’s here and I keep hearing of backpackers ‘incidents’ I hate the idea with a passion. Will I tell her? Will I stop her? No. I will swallow down my worries, they’re my worries after all, and encourage her to go out and see the world or do whtever her heart desires which is exactly why I have a plaque in her room that simply says:
“Do what makes your heart happy”
4) To do what she wants with her life
I was mainly encouraged with this through my childhood but as I got older the pressue was put on from certain quarters about getting married, having children, why I was studying when I’d give it up for kids etc. This brought out the stubborn bitch in me and partly formed why I studied so hard to get the job I wanted and why I held off on kids for a long time. Why should I cave in at being told what to do with my life? If I was honest with myself (and my husband had of agreed!) I may well have gone to college, got married and had kids 10 years ago. If I didn’t work for myself I’d maybe be a stay at home mum but I felt pressure to achieve and achieve so much so that I feel I lost sight of what I really wanted somewhere along the way.
I want my daughter to know that whatever she chooses to do with her life is alright by me. If she wants to become a doctor then great. If she wants to travel for a few years then great. If she wants to get married young, have kids and devote her life to her family then great. The world is her oyster and I want no pressure on her to make choices that are ‘socially acceptable’ or worse, choices that I wished I’d made.
Promises to my baby girl
So there you go, an insight into my childhood and probably more info than I should be sharing but Hell, no one but a few friends know I write this blog and they know it all anyway.
Time will tell if I manage to stick ot my word with all this, we’re far away from teenage years yet so maybe I’m being naive that I can give her this perfectly balanced upbringing.
Yeah, I guess I am, I’ll make mistakes and I’ll no doubt go against everything that is written here at some point or another but I swear that I will always try and treat her well and always have her best interests at heart. I will try my utmost not to repeat mistakes of my childhood and have her growing up knowing that Mummy loves her no matter what and i will most certainly not ever make her feel worthless just to boost my own self esteem.