Thinking Outside the Box
I can’t stand labels. Especially the ones that Zara use, I mean seriously do they need to be THAT long?! Even more irritating when you cut the pesky things off, only to shrink the item in the wash because you no longer have the bleeding care instructions!
I had a similar experience of motherhood when my second finally made his appearance (no need to call the social workers, I didn’t shrink him in the wash). The motherhood ‘labels’ or boxes I had put myself in the first time around the block didn’t work with this little blighter. I had myself pegged as a breastfeeder, a co-sleeper and an attachment parent but not the ‘crunchy’ type. Ha! The only thing I planned to do differently was to avoid ‘drugs’ during labour. That went to plan, he was too fast for the ‘drugs’ that I screamed bloody murder for.
But with my boy the boxes held us back, I clung to my labels instead of trusting my mama instinct with the care instructions. Breastfeeding didn’t go the way I planned but trapped inside my box we persevered to everyone’s detriment. Co-sleeping meant nobody got any sleep. Suddenly I just wanted to hand him over to someone else so I could catch forty winks but found him strapped to my being.
What are your boxes? Formula or breast, buggy or carrier, baby led or pureed weaning, cloth or disposable nappies, dummy or thumb, co-sleeper or cry-it-outer, stay at home or working mama? Why, when we become mamas do we put ourselves in these boxes? Maybe we think we will find safety in numbers. But I worry that by putting ourselves in a box; we shut others out. And in doing so we can alienate ourselves.
The truth is I don’t belong in any one box, and probably neither do you. I own both carriers and buggies. I have done baby led weaning and shovelled in purees. I’ve cuddled to sleep and occasionally cried it out alongside my mini. After my daughter I joined the ranks of the working mamas; but now there are two I’m staying at home. And shock horror: I don’t care for Ryan Gosling or Ryan Reynolds!
Parenting teaches us to think outside the box in other ways; a jumper can soon become a pair of leggings if the shit hits the fan; a straw and some Hula Hoops can be ‘crafted’ into a beautiful bracelet for mama; a latex tanning glove blown up as a balloon; an upturned pot and a wooden spoon - a drum kit. Mamas are wonderfully resourceful, so with that in mind I’m going to start approaching boxes the way my two-year-old does; with imagination. She sees a crib for her dolly, a boat to row ‘merrily’ in (while I do my best crocodile impression), a robot costume, a train carriage, a cooker hob, a holiday home for her Maileg mice, a hiding place. She knows no bounds for how to use her box and she is happy for it to shape shift to fit her mood and the moment.
While our boxes provide us with strong foundations for navigating motherhood, perhaps popping our heads out occasionally wouldn’t hurt. Maybe we could even try knocking out a side and in the event the box we have doesn’t fit, try a new one on for size. Parenting is a rollercoaster we need to be able to grow and adapt if we are to make the ride as smooth as possible.
The only part of parenting that is ‘one size fits all’ is the love between a mama and her mini. I trust that this love guides us in making the ‘right’ parenting choices for our own beautifully unique families.