In this post, I’ve collected situations and comments that really me think: “Am I really that terrible as a mother?”.“Oh my God, are you still working?!”
It all started when I was expecting Janka. In spite of my medical history, I decided to work as long as I could. I was 37 weeks pregnant when I went on maternity leave. The idea of going on sick leave didn’t even cross my mind, what’s more, I was quite active until the day I gave birth – for example, the day before Janka was born, I did the shopping alone. I started to get negative comments when I was halfway into my pregnancy. “Oh my God, are you still working?!”- this was the mildest one, followed by opinions like “Why don’t you focus on the baby?”, “If this child was important to you, you would stay at home”, etc. I know that in English-speaking countries it’s absolutely normal to work until the end of your pregnancy and literally go to the delivery room from your workplace but in Hungary, if you’re pregnant, go on sick leave or the baby might have a problem. What a bullshit.
It’s too cold for her
In the homes of a lot of our acquaintances who have babies, there’s even 25 degrees Celsius because the kid would catch a cold if it wasn’t that warm. In our home, the temperature is around 21 degrees Celsius or 22 if it’s very cold outside. At night, it’s only 20 degrees. When Janka and I were released from the hospital, a lot of people remarked that it was only 21 degrees, that kid must be cold and she isn’t wearing a cap.
She sleeps separately
Yes, Janka does sleep alone. Since we brought her home from the hospital, she sleeps alone, in her on crib, in her own room. Poor kid. We have a baby monitor and an apnea alarm, so if there’s a problem, we go and check her, so she isn’t left all alone for the night. It happened a few times that she she ended up in our bedroom with me because she was crying so much due to a growth spurt or a cold, but I realised that in that situations, none of us slept well. She has been sleeping through the night since she was 7 weeks old. Yes, alone in the dark, in her own room. She only wakes up if one of the above mentioned situations happen. She sleeps separately right from the start because we don’t have to make her get used to sleeping in her own room later if she gets used to sleeping alone from the beginning. In spite of all the stupid comments we got, for quite a long time, I managed to convince myself that what we are doing is actually the right way for us, but in April, my in-laws came to visit, my mother-in-law looked into the crib and said, “I wouldn’t be able to abandon my child like this”. It really hurt and felt that I was a terrible mother.
Janka has no douvets or pillows. There’s a fitted sheet on her matress she sleeps on, in a sleeping bag. No crib bumper, no soft toys, only the empty crib and the sleeping bag. We read a lot about how dangerous a crib bumber can be as it can cause suffocation. We read the same about pillows. A lot of peadiatricians recommend that parents avoid putting anything into babies’ cribs. In hindsight, it turned out that we had made the right decision as Janka likes to push her head into things. We tuck her with a thin blanket during her daytime naps and once she twisted the blanket around her head, so a sleeping bag is definitely a better idea.
She travels on the back seat
In October, we bought her a forward facing car seat. Before that, she used to travel in a rear facing baby car seat, on the back seat. Even when it was just the two of us in the car and I could have put her on the passanger seat. It has four reasons: 1. I don’t want to switch the passanger airbag on and off all the time; 2. for babies, the back seat is the safest place, 3. if she travelled next to me, I would constantly check what she’s doing instead of paying attention to the traffic, 4. she gets used to travelling on the back seat, so there’s no drama because up until this point she could travel next to me and I have to acclimatise her to travel behind me.
I drag her with me everywhere
Since she was 8 weeks old, I take her with me everywhere: to shops, bureaus to get official things done, to the hairdresser’s, etc. Because of it, a lot of people feel sorry for her and think that she’s a hero. Seriously.
There’s no mess in the house
I added this one to the list because a lot of people say, ‘ Sorry for the mess/dirt, but you know, we have kids, I don’t have time to clean.” or “I don’t clean the house because I’d rather spend that time with the kid.”. I clean the house every day. Janka wakes up, has breakfast and it’s time for cleaning. Obviously, in the meantime I don’t deal with her, but she’s there with me, watches what I’m doing, so she’s not alone. She turned 14 months old on the 24th and she gets the brush part of the vacuum cleaner and tries to “vacuum” the floor. Before vacuuming, she helps me clean up the newspapers that she has torn into pieces, what’s more, a week ago, she gave me the recently washed socks one by one, this was how she help me to hang them out. when we get home from the shops, she sits down next to the shopping bag and gives me the things that are in it, so despite the fact that she’s only one year old, I get her involved in housework. By doing so, I always know where she is and I can keep her enganged while I’m getting things done.
Getting ready without tantrums
A lot of people have said to me, “I guess how long it takes for you to leave the house with her.”. It’s 15 minutes. Including getting dressed. She hands me her clothes over in the correct order, she puts on her snowsuit with a tantrum and waits patiently as I put on my shoes and most of the time, she doesn’t throw a fit when I fasten her seatbelt. She has no other choice. If we have to leave the house, we have to leave the house. She’s learnt that without tantrums, we can get things done more quickly.
She rarely cries when we separate
Ha el kell mennem otthonról, mindig elmondom neki, hogy hova megyek, meddig maradok és adok neki puszit is. Mindegy neki, hogy az apukája vagy a nagymamája vigyáz rá. Amikor elköszönök, ő csak integet, hatalmas vigyorral az arcán. Már többször is gondoltam arra, hogy talán nem is szeret. She very rarely cries when we separate. For example, if i have to go to the bathroom after swimming and one of my fellow mothers watch her in the meantime, she stays calm. Other kids cry even when it’s not them their mothers are looking at.
What she eats
We pay attention to feed her as healthily as possible and we try to offer her as varied a diet as possible. She doesn’t like sorrel and sour cherries but apart from those, she eats everything: meat, vegetable, fruit. She gets sugary treats only once a week in the form of “túró rudi” (curd cheese bar, covered in chocolate). As snack, she usually gets unsweetened yoghurt mixed with fruit that is in season or sugar-free rice cookies. She eats whole-wheat or durum wheat bread and pasta. If she’s thirsty, she can choose from caffeine-free tea with nothing added or water. (Until December, the two options used to be breastmilk or water.) Of course, everything is wrong with it, too. Several people have said that it’s not worth the effort because “at school, she’ll eat shit anyway”.
Both my husband and I are very consistent with Janka. We decide ahead what we allow her to do and what we don’t and we both stick to it. Furthermore, “no” is “no”. Period. There’s no such situation as “No, don’t do that… Oh well, feel free to do that.” This way we can’t get into conflicts or she finds one of us more permissive than the other. I think separation goes so smoothly because Janka knows that her father and I are on the same page as far the critical situations – sleeping, getting dressed, what she can play with and wwhat she can’t – are concerned, so she isn’t pushed out of her routine, no matter which one of us she has to separate from. By the way, Janka has had a fixed daily routine since she was 4 months old. Several family members have asked why we have to be consistent with such a young child and why on earth she needs a daily routine. We think that the easiest way to raise a cooperative child is to acclimatise her to the rules of the family right from the start, what is allowed in certain situations and what is not instead of trying to come up with solutions when a behaviour problem occurs. For kids, predictability is significant anyway. This is what we believe in.
These are the situations I have faced so far. Obviously, every age comes with its own problems, so I’m looking forward to what the future holds.