Cuddles each day…
Almost 15 years ago I became a mum for the first time and all my baby wanted to do was cling to me – 24/7. The Contented Book was popular and the baby magazines screamed independence at me – all I wanted to do was listen to my instincts, sit on my arse, cuddle my baby and meet her needs. But I felt bad for doing it – that rod for my back was being thrust at me from all corners until my confidence grew and I finally said fuck it and accepted what I wanted and needed to do.
It wasn’t always easy and I sometimes longed for a little time to pee on my own – especially when I had two children and no job to give me a break – but it is what I did and I became a responsive parent. Before I had kids I was THE perfect parent with some great ideas about how to look after and raise children – I did everything I said I wouldn’t.
I co-slept, I breastfed, I rocked them to sleep, I let them be as dependent and velcro-like as they wanted to be. At times it was brilliant, at times it was shit but it worked and I regret not a second of it.
The last 15 years have shot by and now I have an independent teenager (who still needs me to cook, clean and drive her around but you know what I mean) who is out with friends or in her room talking to her friends. On most days I probably see her for a few minutes – apart from the Enforced Family Days when I get to spend the day with her.
I miss her company but I am adapting – she has her own little life going on and I like to think she is independent because she was able to be dependent.
I don’t regret a single cuddle, a single time I felt beached on the sofa when I had other stuff to do, I survived the sleep deprivation and I remember with a little fondness some of the 3am feeds when it was just me and her and I loved her with every exhausted cell of my body.
Being a parent is not easy, raising children is not easy, sleep deprivation is a cruel fucker which makes us question our ability and our sanity but it is all so so so worth it. Cuddle your children, rock them, feed them, please try not to question if you should – if it feels right, if it settles your baby – please just do.
It won’t last forever, it does get better, it’s always changing and blink and they are asking you for a tenner and asking if their boyfriend can come on holiday.
Janine Rudin | Birth & Baby