Keeping up with the Joneses


I don’t want to be a pushy, piano lesson-wielding sort of a Mum. But since becoming one (a Mum that is) I do find myself comparing Magoo with other babies. It’s only natural, isn’t it? And it’s usually favourably.

I’m not exactly comparing her. I’m just comparing what she does — or doesn’t — do. However, the truth of the matter is that I’m actually comparing myself with other parents.

I’ve written before about our weeks of sleep hell: night upon night during which Magoo would wake up every three hours or so, and barely nap during the day (“Sleep and other first world problems”).

I boycotted Parents Group for a while because I couldn’t bear hearing the other Mums dreamily describe their eight hours of uninterrupted rest, when I was feeling like a character out of The Walking Dead. I’m sure they weren’t trying to make me feel bad, but it felt like shit.

What was I doing wrong? Why wouldn’t my baby sleep? Why did we let my Mum introduce that bloody dummy that falls out of her mouth 20 times a night? Was I taking her out too much during the day to fulfil my own selfish need for adult company?

Luckily, our trip to sleep school, and subsequent weeks of not leaving the house so that we could focus on daytime naps, remedied the majority of our issues. We now get about two or three nights every week where Magoo “sleeps through” (the holy grail), and by sleeping through I mean going from approx. 10pm-7am without waking at all. Each time she does, I still can’t believe it. I roll over to Super Defacto’s side of the bed and ask: “Did she sleep through?”

The other nights she usually only wakes once and settles fairly easily with a bit of patting and shushing. It’s bloody unbelievable and I never thought it would happen.

But even then, it’s not easy. Today I still had to walk her round the neighbourhood for 45 minutes to lull her to sleep in her pram. I passed other mothers with their prams, and wondered whether they have their babies in a “routine”. Whether they can confidently say to their friends: “I will meet you for lunch at 12”, and not have to text during the morning because someone has only just fallen asleep and we will be there more like 1pm. Whether their weeks still more or less revolve around making sure the baby gets enough sleep.

So, sleep aside, the main thing at the moment is with Magoo’s eating.

She does eat, but it’s really hard getting her there, and she doesn’t eat what I’d like her to. I’ve written previously (“Parents Inc.“) about her violent refusal of solid foods, unless they come out of crinkly sachets. As soon as I try to strap her into the high chair, the game’s pretty much over Red Rover. Trying to put a bib around her neck only makes matters worse. By this point she is very red in the face and screamy.

I really hope that our neighbours cannot hear us at mealtimes, otherwise they would think I am torturing her, rather than trying to nourish her with baby Irish stew lovingly prepared by moi.

I’ve tried all sorts of methods to try to coax her to eat (bib / no bib / in the high chair / out of the high chair on Mummy’s lap / in the kitchen on Mummy’s hip / at a cafe where she might get distracted by other people eating properly / in front of the TV watching Peppa Pig…I’m sure that last one won’t win me any good parenting awards, but it’s more for my sanity than hers. LOVE Peppa).

One of the Mums at my parents group sent me an image of a fridge magnet that is supposed to dispel any distress caused by children refusing food. It advises: “The parent chooses when to eat and what to eat; the child chooses whether to eat and how much to eat”. Well that’s all very fine if your child DOES choose to eat most of the time, isn’t it?

Of late, one of the only solid foods that doesn’t cause hysterical outbursts and the pushing away of the spoon so that food sprays everywhere, is toast with Vegemite. But even then, Magoo will only take a tiny, crumb-size bite before flinging it on the floor.

To make life even more interesting, it appears that she has some sort of dairy allergy. We have tried tiny amounts of cow’s milk and natural yoghurt (one of the only foods she will happily eat), only for her to break out in hives, accompanied by projectile vomiting. Our doctor won’t test for allergens until she is one, so we’ll have to wait it out. In the meantime, I’ve bought her some goats milk yoghurt to try so fingers crossed that will agree with her.

Luckily, we are still breastfeeding around four times a day, and my doctor assures me that this means Magoo is getting adequate nutrition, but of course I’m endlessly worried. When I am down at the local cafes, I keep seeing other babies opening their mouths like compliant baby birds for their parents to pop nutritious snacks into their beaks.

Obviously, I’m finding all this very stressful, as I worry (a) what if she doesn’t put on enough weight? and (b) that she will end up on one of those reality TV shows as a 30 year old woman who only eats cheese on toast.

Comments from random people don’t help, either. Today, a well meaning lady at a cafe asked “how old is she?”

“Nine and a half months,” I replied.

“She’s tiny!”

Did she mean tiny in the entire scheme of things (compared to an adult), or tiny compared to other nine month old babies? Either way, it was entirely unhelpful.

The truth of the matter is that at her last check-up, Magoo was in the 97th percentile for height compared with other babies of her age. And her weight is completely normal. And she is happy, and cheeky, and bright, and good natured, and completely lovely.

So back at you, Lady!

So of course, the upshot of all this is that there isn’t much to worry about. But when you’re with your baby 24/7, honing in on their every movement / mouthful / bowel motion, etc., it’s really hard not to question “am I doing the right thing?”


4 responses to “Keeping up with the Joneses

  1. Love your post! Even without a child I sometimes wonder how those ladies who lunch with their fancy Lulelemon outfits and salon style hair manage to seem to do yoga, brunch, a slow meander around Chapel street, then fit in a dinner party all whilst taking care of a completely dependent human life!. In fact, the more I learn from discussions with you and those mums (and dads) I work with and talk to, the more I know this is not normal. Dealing with these incredible tiny lives that demand all your attention is thankless, but friends, family, loved ones and even Magoo, know you are doing the best you can and I think that you ask that question ‘ am I doing the right thing’ only proves how much you love Magoo and how great a mother you are 🙂

  2. I struggled a lot with comparing my mothering skills to others, I still do. The thing I have learnt is to trust my instincts and try to shut out the ‘noise.’ Everyone parents differently and it sounds like your little one is doing fine, so just keep doing what your doing!

    • Thanks for your words KCMS! Learning to trust my instincts (and not Google every damn thing) is still a work in progress….but getting there I think. I suppose it’s the same with every new situtation in life, eh?

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