It’s funny how some dates stick in your mind and no matter how long it’s been always fills you with the same feeling as when you first experienced it. Today is one of those days. Today our little Monkey is exactly 4 ½ years old and I’ve found myself wondering where that time has gone and thinking back to those stressful first 6 months.
Most people who have had children will agree with me that the day your new little bundle of joy turns 6 months old is a huge deal and will always continue to be a huge deal as your child grows up. There is so much pressure and such an enormous build up during those first 6 months of parenthood that when it finally arrives you feel so relieved that it’s here.
You then start making a mental list of all the milestones that your child should have reached by that point because someone, somewhere decided to write it in a book, which generally convinces you that its contents are sacred and we were feeling the pressure during this time.
It was like being given a set of commandments to follow;
Can your child sit up unaided? – Yes, Phew.
Has your child mastered rolling over? – Yes, excellent start.
Can your child bear weight on their legs whilst supported? – Yes, on a roll here people!
Has your child broken more than 3-4 teeth? – No, oh. . .
Is your child bearing weight on their knees and starting to crawl? – No, why can’t my child crawl. . .?
Weaning your child before 6 months is damaging to your child’s intestinal system – We started at 5 months!!
Your child should now have a regular sleeping pattern – Say what now?!
If you haven’t breastfed your child continuously, day and night, shame on you! – Hangs head in shame.
Etc. . .
I’m sure it’s not quite as harsh as that and I’m not trying to get into the breast vs bottle argument here, because come on, why would I want to do that to myself. . . again! #prochoice
It’s generally at this point that you either –
a) Start to panic
b) Feel a little smug (within your own little parenting bubble that is)
I will be completely honest with you and confess that I was in the majority parents who started to panic about my child’s development and worried about the whats and whys. What could I have done differently to make them sleep better at night? Why isn’t my child developing at the same rate as my friend’s child? Why isn’t my life as perfect as the mums I see on Instagram?!
My point, and I’m going about this in a roundabout way, is it does feel quite brutal and unforgiving at the time. Of course now I have a thriving 4 ½ year old I can look back at this stage and tell myself I had absolutely nothing to worry about but I still do it to myself even to this day. The 6 month mark, be it 6 months old, 4 ½ years old, 9 ½ years old, 18 ½ years old, makes you stop and evaluate your parenting up until that point and reflect on the times past, especially those first 6 months of their life.
My biggest worry at the moment is about M’s eating anxiety and yes I’m only human and I constantly think back to when we starting weaning him and kicking myself for not persisting with baby led weaning, then tell myself that he just didn’t get the hang of it and wasn’t good at swallowing large pieces without choking. Then I kick myself for persisting with baby led weaning for so long and letting him get to the point where he couldn’t swallow the large chunks and choking. Kids develop in their own ways just because, and there is no firm answer.
One thing I have learnt is not to worry about advice in any so called “parenting expert handbook” because my child is not generic, he can’t be “fixed” by following 5 simple steps. So Kirsty and I have sought medical advice and are visiting a paediatrician. We are following our gut instinct on this one in the hope it pays off and if it doesn’t, then we’ll try something else but we are taking control of the situation.
I know I’ve rambled a bit in places but I just get so frustrated by the immense pressure put on parents to do the right thing, be it breastfeeding or weaning techniques or schooling or eating habits, so that your child is the same as all the other children. Do you really want your child to be the same as everyone else? I’m not sure I do, I want to allow M’s individuality to shine through. So, when your magic 6 month mark comes along this year try to look back on it and say, you know what?! I’m actually doing a pretty good job!