Because it shouldn't be like this.
It starts from the beginning doesn't it?
You *should* put the baby down now.
They *should* be sleeping on their own.
They *should* be sleeping for at least 4 hours at night now (at ten weeks old)
You *shouldn't* feed them to sleep
You *shouldn't* rock them to sleep
You *shouldn't* use the sling to get them to sleep
You *should* leave them now
The baby *should* be doing xyz by now...
You *should* space out their feeds
They *shouldn't* need feeding again
Your toddler *shouldn't* still be in your bed at night
Your toddler *should* walk by themselves now...
I could go on and on and on...
Sometimes these things said to us are truly from a good place. Often they are said because we are on our knees with tiredness and compassionate people around us who care for us, see our giving to our children as the root of the tiredness. And if only we could find a way of not giving so much it would be easier = we'd be less tired.
Other times it's said from a person in authority, following a chart, averages and books. the danger here being they are not taking the whole situation into account. And potentially, making the situation worse...
And they could be said to us out of fear or through our parenting triggering someone else. Perhaps because they followed all the shoulds and shouldnts against their gut??
This world right now is a really fucking hard place to raise children (and I'm sure all generations would say the same...) But our world is under very real threat of growing catastrophe from climate change. Our county stands to suffer at the hands of some of our political leaders in a way not seen before. The worldwide news of troubled times across the globe is ever present to us...
And in conjunction with this global situation, we have more knowledge than we've ever had before about neuroscience /psychology, how all that we do and say has an impact on our children, their self worth and their mental health. And because of this we're a generation where many of us are having to heal from our own parenting trauma.
We're also a generation that is forced into two-parent working families more often than not. Because the cost of living is so fucking high. We're a generation of parents who, for many many many of us, live without the extended family back up and so we joke "the juggle is real". But it's no joke. Raising kids, working, maintaining a marriage, not fucking up your kids, being eco friendly and don't forget self care and exercise oh and making sure dinner is always healthy and nutritious. Argh.
And so parenting guilt from those who impose the shoulds and shouldn'ts on us, in combination with the knowledge of the world we're in is a recipe for doubt, fear and worry.
We worry for our children, we're on our own, desperate not to fuck up. Desperate to get it right, (because apparently there is a "right" way to parent). And this leaves us vulnerable to the shoulds and shouldn'ts. It leaves is so desperate for someone to say "yes you're doing it right" that often we hear "but you're also getting it wrong".
We want someone to tell us what to do to alleviate some of the pressure and responsibility. But then if we don't meet the mark, we feel like we're failing.
Because we question ourselves
We doubt our heart
We don't feel empowered
I have been privileged to listen to two conversations this week. Both times a mama was worrying about their babies sleep and needing their mama or mamas milk to sleep. And the response the first time was
"Don't worry, you are all your baby needs, everything they need is right here."
And the second time
"Just do what feels right to you, all babies are different."
My wish for you right now, even for a moment, is that you can believe what your heart says. Trust in you. Feel it in your gut. You know your baby. And that you can receive help when you want it, that inspires you, empowers you and doesn't make you feel shit.
You've got this