Parenting Advice: An Open Letter to My Goddaughter

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This is an open letter to my goddaughter as she prepares for the birth of her first child.

Dear Beautiful Goddaughter,

I was a young Auntie at 17 and the most honored and appreciative aunt, especially to the cutest, cheekiest and smartest twin girls. I vividly remember you with your twin sister toddling about in matching, pink, fur-lined parkas, as if it was yesterday. I can still feel the pride I had walking you both in your double stroller, meeting friends, and introducing you as my nieces. I was even more delighted to hear you were expecting your own little bundle and I was to gain the ‘Great’ title.

As a mother to two of my own little bundles, now 8 and 6, I have thought about all the parenting advice I could give you. I can recommend all the paraphernalia that comes with motherhood, I can give you tips on sleeping, diaper-changing, breastfeeding, and baby-led weaning. I could tell you where to shop and what time of the year to shop for the best deals. I can give you a list of moms to follow on social media and books that have helped me along my way. I can even tell you what classes were worthwhile and those that were less so.

The list of things you will want to know and begin to know will be endless. The amount of parenting advice you will receive will be ceaseless. So where do I begin to give you advice in an open letter?

As you know, I struggled to conceive my first little bundle so being pregnant was all at once the most wonderful and scariest thing. Pregnancy and having a baby was going to be the most amazing journey I had ever been on, and honestly, it was! 

So why does there feel like a but is coming? Because, unfortunately, there is.

This ‘but’ came in the form of judgment. Literally, everything you do as a pregnant woman or as a mother is judged. You only have to look at daily talkshows, newspapers, and social media posts to find it. Just today I read an article from a celebrity chef in the UK saying there is no such thing as fussy eaters, just moronic parenting.

From day one of being pregnant, you will be judged for working too much, wearing heels, and using non-organic cosmetics. As a new mother, be prepared for this to ramp up! You will be judged for not breastfeeding and if you do breastfeed, not doing it discreetly, for not losing weight quickly enough or losing weight too quickly, for letting your baby fall asleep by itself in a cradle or letting the baby sleep in your arms, for going back to work too quickly or deciding to stay at home with the baby. This judgment will be veiled as ‘parenting advice’, making you feel as though someone is trying to help you. The list is infinite and the point is, nothing you will ever do as a mother will be right.

In case you are confused, my point is, that at the most vulnerable point of any mother’s life, society will deem her incapable, even when she is doing the best job she possibly can. It’s something that is rarely spoken about in mothering circles and something that we face from every angle; from partners, parents, in-laws, friends, co-workers.

So this is my little nugget of parenting advice. This judgment will happen regardless, so allow yourself to become liberated from the judgment. Yes, you read that correctly, liberate yourself from all the advice, from all the people-pleasing and trying to make decisions based on others’ experiences. Use the time to gain your mom wings, gain your independence and make decisions based on what feels right for you and your family. You may not be the most conventional mom when you begin to do things your own way, but I promise you, you will be a happier and more confident mom.

Here’s a final bit of advice, beneath all this judgment and beneath everyone pressing their opinions upon you, are the diamonds, the other moms who refuse to judge. These mums come in all shapes and sizes, they come from church groups, friends of friends, or maybe as neighbors. They will be the shining light throughout all of this. They will bring food when a baby is born, they will wipe your tears when you are exhausted and they will still think you are the best mom for your baby even when you are covered in food (or unmentionables) and haven’t showered in three days. 

These moms are your people. They might be hard to find at first but when you find them, you’ll know!

I hope this open letter to my Goddaughter on the birth of her first child has been helpful, insightful, and empowering. You already have all the skills inside of you to be the amazing mom I know you will be but also remember you are surrounded by a phenomenal group of women who are here to support, love, and care for not only your baby but you too, without all the judgment.

Lots of love, 

Gráinne

 

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