Tuesday, 6 July 2010

A Crisis of Confidence

Suddenly, three months in, I'm suffering from a crushing crisis of confidence.

Fears, that lay dormant during the somnambulistic first few weeks of motherhood have begun to multiply and mutate, and are raging through our quiet routine at speed.

I'm worrying about everything; am I feeding him too much? Should we have more of a schedule? Have I established the wrong sleep associations? Am I guilty of accidental parenting?

I leaf through pages of accusations thinly veiled as advice and feel my guilt thicken as I read. One book's answers are another book's problems and everywhere I turn I find counsel that condemns my efforts.

Everyone told me that if I could survive the first twelve weeks of motherhood it would be plain sailing there on in, but whilst survival is a black and white business, good parenting is as grey and vaporous as mist and I can feel its droplets slipping through my fingers every time he cries.


  1. I ache for you - even though it is almost 10 years ago, I recall the emotions you describe so very clearly.

    With that decade of experience, I can only tell you that parenting is (for me anyway) a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants ride. And a long one at that. So many decisions to get wrong, so much responsibility for another being.

    But if you get to the end of the day and you are both still in one piece and that gorgeous little boy of yours knows he is loved then be proud. It is enough to know that we try our very best. Getting up the next morning and trying all over again, is the thing that makes us good parents.

    Big hug for you.

  2. What a heartfelt and moving post. This is exactly how I felt at that stage too...overwhelmed with the enormity of the responsibility of being a parent. Seven years later and I still regularly question whether or not I'm doing a good job...

  3. First of all, hello! I found you through Ali. Second of all...

    Not a day goes by that I wonder who put silly/irresponsible/messy/unorganised/narcissistic old me in charge of these little lives. What do I know? But then I look at those books and I that they actually know less than I do. They don't know how Ellis has to realise be run around like mad during the day or how he has to pour his cereal just right to be happy. Or how Georgia must be convinced that sleep is more exciting than watching her crazy older brother. And they don't know how I can not handle motherhood between 3 and 4pm. Only I know these things...the books, the experts, are only tools to find the answers for myself.

    Anyway, thats my thought. I think our babes are the same age...Georgia was born on the 26th of March

  4. Hello. I hopped over here from Domesticali. Good to see you. Goodness, you've expressed this feeling perfectly. I wasn't capable of such coherent writing at such an early stage, that's for sure.

    Others may have said this, but maybe try, try to trust your instincts and not the books. Some of their pages are useful. Some. At the beginning I had the exact same pile. I would end up horribly confused and feeling, with every new page I read, that I was doing it wrong. I'd follow some part of the 'advice', only to find in another book that this was pretty much forbidden. Then I forgot which book had said what. Crying ensued (both mine and the baby's).

    Four and a half years in and with another child the confidence still wobbles, pretty much daily and sometimes it goes off the richter scale.

    There are pictures here of a gorgeous, smiling, snoozing, adored baby. He looks content to me!

  5. I remember those days so well even though my first born is now 15! The most important bit of advice someone gave me back then was 'Don't listen to advice just listen to yourself' Many times we know the answer we just don't have the confidence to believe that.
    I put the books away and became finding my own answers.It's not always easy but it eally lessens the guilt of 'not doing what you feel you should be doing even though it doesn't feel right for you'. Babies respond to love more than anything and I'm sure you have heaps!

  6. The inital fear and worry subsides, or perhaps we just get used to it. It's certainly less fraught when they start sleeping more at night. My oldest is 11 and my youngest 15 months, there is always a new challenge and some days I just look forward to them going to bed. Instinct is usually right, books might not be written by someone with the same values and approach as you. There is no wrong way to love them, milk and love to make them grow and keep them happy.
    You write so well, thank goodness Ali told us all about you.

  7. Another one steered here by Ali!

    I never realised that being a mother wasn't something you could learn from a book. That there wouldn't be an answer somewhere if you looked hard enough, that sometimes there wouldn't be an answer. But the academic in me still keeps looking and sometimes I through books that well-meaning friends have lent me across the room in disgust. But every so often I read something that reminds me that every third mother is having the same sort of day as me, and there is light at the end of the tunnel, and that gives me hope and makes me relax.

    I haven't got any better at this parenting thing, but I'm easier on myself now (and I'm only 22 months in!).

    In the end, as long as you love them unconditionally, and try your best, you can't do much wrong. (I hope!)