THE first time the mum-upmanship reared its head was during a socially distanced coffee in the park with one of the women from my antenatal class.
“I’ve started giving him formula,” she whispered to me, as if she were talking about scoring her baby some crack as opposed to feeding her child.
Why the guilt? Because the breast versus bottle debate is just one of the many mum “wars” constantly raging out there.
In all other aspects of life, most of us seem willing to accommodate different strokes for different folks.
Want to wax all your pubes and get a vajazzle? You do you! Thinking about quitting your job and being a lion tamer? Not for me, but knock yourself out!
However, when it comes to parenting, if you choose to take a different path from someone else, you might as well be committing something akin to child abuse.
This all starts before your baby is even born, when your decision about whether to do a whole host of things, from drinking alcohol to how you like your steak, comes loaded with judgments from others.
I wrote an article about having the odd glass of wine during pregnancy and was trolled on social media by people who told me my baby would be brain-damaged.
Which is just what you want to hear when you’re feeling vulnerable and in a fog of hormones.
If you choose to take a different path from someone else, you might as well be committing something akin to child abuse.
Birth is now a competitive sport, where “natural” is best for baby (get ready to hear this phrase a lot if you have a child) and pain relief is treated like a cop-out.
I’ve heard new mothers try to outdo one another about the length of their labour, the size of their baby and more, as if there’s a prize to be won for being the biggest #warrior. A prize that’s not PTSD.
Although I didn’t go into my birth with a plan, I’m sure I subliminally absorbed all of this and that’s why I left it too late to ask for an epidural. More fool me.
When you’re a new parent, every choice feels confusing and it seems like you have to pick a side: are you a Gina Forder or a hugger mother?
To co-sleep or not to co-sleep? But things only get worse as they grow up.
There’s the screen-time debate, the vaxx/anti-vaxx movement, and what do you mean you’re not teaching them Mandarin yet?
I’ve also experienced the “back to work already?” raised eyebrow.
I’ve mumbled something about needing the money, too embarrassed to admit it’s because I love my job and that, at the moment, it’s the one blessed bit of the week when I feel like I actually know what I’m doing.
I don’t know why so much of motherhood is mired in martyrdom, smug self-righteousness and plain old-fashioned showing off.
But I’m not surprised nearly 70 per cent of parents feel judged on the quality of their parenting, according to Nurofen For Children.
Everyone wants to raise a happy, well-adjusted kid, and feels paranoid that they’re falling short.
This week I’m…
Watching: Dawson’s Creek
I’m falling for Pacey all over again now that my fave show as a teenager is on Netflix.
Popping: Like Sun
Beautypie.com teamed up with nutritionist Kay Ali to create vit D supps equivalent to “15 minutes of Miami sunshine”.
Listening to: The New Motherhood
Baby sling company Artipoppe has launched an inspirational podcast for mamas.
It’s for this reason that the baby market is worth £21million a year and why you can convince yourself that you really, really need a heated baby wipe holder or a toy sheep with a heartbeat.
There’s a headline from satirical news site The Onion that sums up the madness of modern motherhood: “Scientists find a link between people who breastfeed and people who think they know what’s best for everybody.”
I sent it to my formula-happy friend. There are infinite ways to raise children and there’s no such thing as the perfect parent. All that matters is love.
- Follow Kate on Instagram @katewillswrites.
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