My Baby Taught Me How To Be a Mum

Photography: Georgia Russell

By Suzi O’Shea

I saw an article posted on one of the countless parenting Facebook pages, suggesting that parents who ‘sleep train’ their babies are cruel and uncompassionate. The article was backed by studies that conclude such methods would lead an array of psychological and behavioral conditions later in the child’s life. It’s not the first post/article/blog/what-have-you, which I have come across making the same insinuations.

I have also seen copious amounts of material suggesting that if you don’t ‘sleep train’ your child, you are encouraging your baby to have a dependence on you, which will lead to an array of psychological and behavioral conditions later in the child’s life.

I have often heard that being a parent is the hardest job in the world. The hours are pretty crap too. No other job offers several training manuals on how to properly embark on your new role, all with sternly conflicting information and exceptionally harsh and non-forgiving peers. People (parents and non-parents alike) are so quick to judge. This is wrong, that’s bad, that will certainly lead to some kind of dysfunction in your child’s life.

I’ve only been in this role for 8 months and if I was to believe everything I read, I have successfully locked down at least ten years of therapy for my little girl. Not a bad feat.

I won’t lie; I was one of those new mums that bought any parenting book I could get my hands on when I was pregnant. I read them all cover to cover and I was horribly confused. I took the best bits from a handful of different books and had a vague idea in my head of how to approach the whole being a mum thing.

What I found was; none of the books took into account two very important details: my personality and my child’s personality. You see, they don’t sell a book called, “What Suzi O’Shea can expect when raising Elena O’Shea – At this very moment in time.”

There is no harm in gaining as much knowledge and information as you can. In fact, it’s very beneficial. But in my experience (I should point out I am not an expert and my opinions are not backed by psychological studies) it’s my baby that taught me how to be a mum.

I listened to her, I got to know her, I studied her responses, her expressions. Like any relationship, we got to know each other and fell more in love with every passing day. Some days are tough, most days are amazing. Sometimes we co-sleep, other times she settles herself, some nights she sleeps in my arms, I don’t feed her on a schedule, sometimes she has a strict bedtime.

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