From Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka, the minds behind highly popular parenting blog MotherPukka.com, comes Parenting the Sh*t Out of Life, the Sunday Times bestselling account of parenting told from both perspectives and a handy guide (kind of) on how to raise a small human. It’s the must-read for all parents and parents-to-be – and possibly the best (or worst) baby shower gift you could ever give a prospective mum or dad. Here Mother Pukka tells us a little of her side of the story:
Whether you’re boob or bottle, Ella’s Kitchen or Annabel Karmel, mum-boss or mum-don’t-give-a-toss, it was my mama mates and their perilous tales of parenting that made everything okay. It was stories of ‘I found a teaspoon in my kid’s nappy’ or ‘Does anyone else’s nipple look like a Jaffa Cake?’ that made me see the lighter side and start to realise I wasn’t the only one bungling along.
My parental method isn’t textbook, it’s more ‘have a go’. Like my style isn’t thought-out, it’s more ‘stuff that’s not in the wash’. But I realised that it’s not about what everyone else is doing, it’s about what we, as parents, can do together. For me that has always been laughing through the madness. Oh, and remembering a previous life being hungover on a beach in Koh Pha Ngan – and realising that motherhood is, in fact, a much happier place.
Then came the juggernaut of a question from my sister, Karen, which no one had asked yet: ‘All okay with you?’
Well, yeah it was until you asked that question and made me think about it and unleashed an Alton Towers log flume of tears. She asked the question and I cried, simply because I wasn’t sure of the answer. I remember I was in some achingly hipster brunch gaff and there was a general sense of worry in the air from all the moustachioed patrons: ‘Why are there parent-people here? This is not a parent-people place.’
Doubt is a cruel mistress. She’s a wily sort who edges into your thoughts at 3.14 a.m. when there’s nothing but Instagram posts from lithe Californian girls on skateboards for company. It sidles up to you in the dairy aisle of Asda and queries (oh so quietly but ever so clearly) if it’s lactose that’s causing those piercing newborn screams.
It makes you question boobs, bottle and everything in between. Are my norks limp duds or is she getting enough food? How can I be solely responsible for food supply for something so important? I think, however you choose to feed that kid, the old mantra ‘fed is best’ rings true. Put the internet down and allow your maternal antenna to perk up on matters of getting food in the kid and don’t get sucked into any group discussing the merits of ‘boob vs bottle’ – if in doubt, call the midwife.
Doubt is part of being a parent. Despite knowing you can climb that hulking great parental mountain, something edges over and whispers: ‘But did you see how calm Jodi’s baby was? Why is yours crying like an angry vole? What are YOU doing wrong? Is my rendition of “Wind the Bobbin Up” on point? Can she even hear me? Why don’t I know if she can hear me at four weeks old? Is anyone listening? Am I alone? What is a bobbin?’
My mum is the first to push the sentiment, ‘Do it, go your own way; it’s not selfish, it’s honest.’ And she’d always wrap my sandwiches up in a way that stood out (think a foil swan extravagance) from the packed-lunch crowd.
In those early days with Mae, she’d given me the advice that kept my mind strung together: ‘Sometimes it is okay to shut the door on the screaming child and have a cup of tea. Sometime you must put the kettle on and give yourself a break – before you actually break.’
And that’s actually the advice I’d give to mothers in their first month: give yourself a break, before you actually break, and ask for help if things feel too hard. That, and don’t under-estimate the power of TENA Lady Pants.