Even though we are currently non-parents and don’t plan to have children right away (and realise that kiddies don’t need a plan, haha), I am terribly excited about being a mother.
But along with excitement comes fear of the unknown. I can hardly remember how to administer formula from the time when my brother was born. I’ve only changed nappies a handful of times throughout the course of my life. (And I still suck at getting the sticky bits just right.) My husband is a pro and has lots of practice thanks to his big family. I am grateful that I will have someone at my side who is well informed. But as a woman I can’t deny that it contributes to existing feelings of wonder and inadequacy around my proficiency as a mother. Non-parents think about these things too…
I know people say that it comes naturally, but I have tons of questions. Will my superpowers kick in automatically? How will I succeed in NOT doing the things I swore I would not do when raising my children? Will I carry my own parenting scars well? Will my kid like me?
I’ve established rituals in my head. Things I’d love us to do together. But what if my daughter doesn’t like tea and hates finger detangling her hair? Even if the shea butter and essential oils smell like sweeties and mummy buys matching robes to mark the occasion? Will my son relate to me at all or find me to be overwhelming? Will they enjoy their father more? Sure, it’s not a competition and if I strip down all those things, the truth is that all I want for my children and I is that we might have an open and budding relationship.
And of course, there’s the other stuff – like being able to afford them the human dignity of a reasonable quality of life. And actually keeping them alive to enjoy it.
Who taught you what you know about parenting today?
Which examples, facts, tried-and-tested methods and support systems have given your intuition the peace of mind it deserves? What has informed your decisions and guided your childcare practices? Perhaps you come from a generation of mothers and fathers who have passed on their pearls of wisdom? Maybe you have rock star friends who have wiped more than a few tears away. In some instances, it is true that it takes a village to raise a child. Maybe it is this village who have come along to shed light on the things you as a non-parent aren’t sure about.
As for me and my house, I’ve always been and will probably remain that one who is “stuck” Googling stuff. It’s funny how these days people will rather you consult the internet than take pleasure and time to answer your questions. It’s awkward that I am learning a life hack from someone I met on Facebook. I’ve had a home, I’ve had a family, I’ve had an education to guide my way. But be that as it may, this is a reality for many mums and pops. There is very little to no information-sharing happening in more traditional ways.
Whether you learn by watching, learn by doing or learn by discussing – chances are you may not be afforded the luxury in your physical/immediate community. This could be because those around you have done their level best and didn’t have anything else to give you. It could be because your first influences weren’t around. Maybe there was a memo that was passed around without you and I knowing… One that said we’ll just have to figure this stuff out ourselves and by observing the world around us. Maybe people don’t talk anymore. Perhaps they cannot be blamed, if they don’t know how.
This is why…
And this, dear friends, is why I am appreciative of literature (you wouldn’t believe what I have gained from novels, for example). This is why I appreciate the mummy bloggers I have been following for a while now (some of whom a part of this campaign). And why I most certainly believe that #CarseatFullstop is relevant to young adults, even those of us without kids.
We live in such a prejudiced society. I am often surprised at what people think “you should just know”. I am a lover of common sense, but I also think we’ve stretched the term a bit. How will our sons and daughters know unless we teach them? Unless we stop relying on a teacher, text book, happenstance, heaven forbid – their circumstances, to make them who they are and inform their life choices?
Before I read the good work Mandy and her team are doing…
I had visions of my husband opening the back door of our car so that I could sit with our first child on my lap. I thought this was perfectly okay. But it’s not.
We’ve been around a handful of car seats in our lives. To be honest, on my mental checklist of things to save up for when we’re ready to grow our family, a car seat or booster seat ranked somewhere between nice-to-have and luxury.
Car seat safety is not something you think about at night as non-parents. It’s not something we learn at school and it’s not something you’re going to type into a search engine by chance. Most likely, I’d have stumbled upon similar truths to those shared through #CarseatFullstop when I poured over pregnancy magazines in my first or second trimester. And then with budgets tight and muscle memories of, “but they got on okay without one, so we can wait a little before getting one ourselves…” We’d skip over this detail and perhaps try harder when baby number two was on the way.
Sure, we wrinkle our noses when we see toddlers banging on windows or chilling between mum and dad at the red light… But life goes on and parting thoughts are never, “I need to buy a car seat”. Non-parents fantasise about affording nappies and maybe a nice co-sleeper and pram – but daydreams over car seats? I have never.
I’m not sure which reality of leaving a child unbuckled hits home more. Is it the fact that there is increased risk of death should an accident occur… or the fact that it is illegal? Either way, I hope it will leave you impassioned to make the necessary changes… And also inform those who may not be rightly educated on the matter. Even us non-parents who don’t have children, yet.
Sometimes we don’t just know. Sometimes we need to be told. Thanks #CarseatFullstop for the conversation.
Thank you so much to Ashleigh Easthorpe for asking to contribute to the campaign!