I have, fairly obviously, never had a baby in any other era - but I'm pretty sure the whole parenting thing used to be simpler. You gave birth; you became a parent. Your baby was hungry; you fed it. Your baby needed to get somewhere; you took it there.
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Today it seems like some parents take things everything ever-so-slightly-too-seriously. Everything is up for debate; every little decision demands torturous hours of thought in order to tackle the inevitable demands for justification you're going to face - from the supermarket check-out assistant, from other mums, from the media.
Now obviously, bringing up a tiny human is a serious responsibility and can be seriously hard work. But being a mama or papa is also seriously fun - and it seems to me that among all the bazillion labels and warnings and stress and parenting anxiety, that's sometimes getting lost in translation.
And the thing that really drives me bonkers is you can't do anything as a parent without being labelled part of a tribe.
When I popped my tiny man into his sling to walk to the park today - as I often do, because it's easier than the rigmarole of the buggy and because sometimes it's nice to have the best smell in the world - the top of his head - within sniffing distance - a fellow mum at the swings said, 'Oh, so you're one of those baby-wearers? Attachment parenting, ay? Do you all sleep in one big bed together?'
Nope, actually - but I don't have a view on those parents who do. It's sometimes the only way to get more than two hours' consecutive sleep. As one of my favourite mum-friends - whose baby just loves to say 'hello' to his knackered parents every few hours in the night - puts it, 'can't I be co-sleeping out of desperation rather than attachment parenting?'
Right? And when I feed my baby a mixture of purees and finger food, depending on how much he's eaten and how much I need a few seconds to ram some chow down my own throat, can't I be feeding him in the best way that works for us - not being a failing baby-led-weaner or needing to be told 'that's NOT the way to do it', as another cafe group mum chirped the other day.
We're all just winging it here, parenting the best way we can. All the labels and shooting-glance judgments and competitive philosophies are getting in the way of baby giggles. And nothing in the world should do that.Suggest a correction