As a parent of children who are fortunate to live in comfortable circumstances, I don't want to have to cancel Christmas or deprive them of the things they want. I don't want to make them feel guilty for having a better life than the many less fortunate children in the world. At the same time, I do want them to know that not everyone in the world enjoys the same level of comfort and security as they do.
When my first child was a small baby I collected parenting books, convinced that one of them contained the secret to a full night's sleep and a miracle cure for colic. They mostly lay unread as I was too tired to read them, but occasionally my husband or I would pick one up and pick and choose the bits that we could live with out of one and half-apply them in our exhausted states.
Thus, my mother had always told me that I had to learn to love cooking before becoming a mum. Not merely to learn to cook, but to learn to love cooking. Her rationale is learning to love cooking is not merely about putting food on the table, but cultivating a mindset where there is a genuine desire to nurture and care for another human being.
More and more, I believe parenting experts and childcare gurus are a scourge on modern mums, with a combination of one-size-fits all, conflicting advice that creates expectations that we - and certainly our babies - can never live up to. This leads to guilt, anxiety or, in my case, even depression as I felt I was failing at the most important job I have ever done.
What is a dysfunctional family? Well, there is a huge span when it comes to the term 'dysfunctional'. It ranges from mildly dysfunctional to completely nuts. There is really no guide when it comes to determining how dysfunctional a family is but, for the purposes of this article, we are leaning towards the 'completely nuts' end of the spectrum.
For once the feed schedule you have tirelessly tried and beaten yourself up over when it failed, has started to stick giving your day some kind of shape. For once you feel like you have some control back. That your day is not just one long feeding session and that you have finally took a step towards some form of routine.
My elderly aunt was crying the other night. Quite a lot actually. She even made herself sick at one point. I rolled her to one side while I changed the sheet underneath her as quickly as I could. I didn't speak to her, look at her, hold her or offer her a glass of water. I didn't want to get her hopes up or let her think she might be cuddled or listened to. Was that OK?
The other day there were simultaneous conversations going on; one about how their child's homework was too easy and the other about how their child's homework was too hard. And they weren't just discussing it, they were getting very worked up! They seemed to think that one teacher was either too lazy to set proper homework or thought their children were idiots.