You will fall in love with your baby at first sight
Some women fall in love with their baby at first sight. Some don’t. Either is normal but it’s common to experience guilt if you fall into the second category. A difficult labor, drugs given during that labor, your own experiences, or a slow drip of postpartum hormones are all reasons for a delay in falling in love. Don’t worry: it will happen in its own time.
You will always know what to say
It’s easy to imagine that becoming a mom imbues you with a wisdom you’ve previously lacked. Sadly, this isn’t true and you won’t always know what to say to your child. It’s easier when they’re small: a cuddle, a smile and the promise of an ice cream is enough to right their worries. Once they’re older however, you may need to feign ingenuine confidence.
You don’t have a life beyond your kids
The mom who subsumes herself into her kids is very real, at least if you believe what you see and hear in the media. And sometimes, sure, being a Mom is all-consuming. You might go without sleep, or skip catch-ups with friends, but this won’t always be the case. You’re still the same person you always were; you’re just operating a little differently.
Love is enough
Of course, love is your child’s most fundamental need. However, whatever anyone might tell you, it’s not an adequate substitute for food, good quality housing, an education, adequate clothing, or the freedom to play. Moreover, love must come alongside appropriate boundaries and discipline to keep the child safe and ensure they grow up into a kind, decent adult.
You’ll know why your baby is crying
While it’s true that some moms (and dads!) eventually learn to distinguish different types of cry, this doesn’t happen instantly. At first, it’s entirely normal not to know why your baby is crying. Instead, you’ll probably learn to run through a checklist of possible causes: hunger, dirty diaper, too hot or too cold, teething, and so on to identify the reason for the crying.
You can rely on your maternal instincts
If you’ve grown a baby inside you for nine months and especially if you’re its primary carer, you will know it better than anyone else. That makes you the person who’s most likely to understand what your baby needs and what’s best for them. However, it doesn’t make you a pediatrician and you will need to recognise when you need external help.
You’ll only go out to places if you can take your kids
We’ve all met people like this: the mom who won’t go anywhere unless it has a play park so she can bring her kids too, or the one who brings her tired toddler to an evening meal with her friends. However these moms are the exception, not the rule. After the initial postpartum period, most moms are delighted to go out without their kids.
You’ll spoil a baby if you pick them up too much
This emerged from child-rearing guidance originating in the 1920s, when “experts” (usually men) insisted that mothers would spoil their babies if they picked them up whenever they cried. This is long since discredited. Quite the reverse: picking up and comforting a crying baby helps cement the attachment bond between parent and child.
If you’re too flexible, your child will take advantage of you
It’s easy to imagine you have to be a rigid disciplinarian to bring up a well-adjusted child. However, without some flexibility, you’ll bring up a child who accepts authority unquestioningly, may struggle to think for themselves, and may find it difficult to keep themselves safe.
Introducing fruit first means your child won’t eat vegetables
Weaning is always a contentious topic. When, how, and with what: trends come and go. Whether or not you should withhold fruit until your baby is enjoying spinach and broccoli is a common idea. It’s also not true. Yes, fruit is naturally sweeter, which means children may prefer it, but this doesn’t mean they’ll automatically refuse vegetables. Everything in moderation is a good maxim.
No child will starve themselves
It’s often said that no child will starve themselves. And, as a rule, this is a true: a healthy child will eat when they’re hungry, provided you don’t fill them up with snacks. However, this isn’t the case for some kids, especially those with ARFID, which often goes hand-in-hand with autism. It’s worth knowing about if you have a very fussy eater.
Early potty training is essential
Early potty training might be more convenient but, let’s be honest: a child will only potty train when their body is physically ready for it. Some parents swear by elimination communication training, which can begin as early as straight after birth. However, others will point out that if you hold a baby over a potty often enough, you’re bound to catch something!
Eating certain foods increases your milk supply
There’s plenty of literature on what to eat, and drink, to increase your milk supply. However, here’s the thing: the key to successful lactation is firstly to eat and drink enough – and secondly to breast feed on demand. The act of feeding is actually what stimulates milk production.
A C-section isn’t giving birth
Of all the hurtful things levelled at moms, this has to be one of the worst, especially given it’s often said in the immediate post-natal period when a woman is at her most emotionally vulnerable. And it’s nonsense. If a C-Section isn’t giving birth, how else did the newborn arrive? Did the stork deliver it and leave it under a gooseberry bush?
Moms must be their kids’ main emotional support
This is a hard one as the emotional support of kids is usually a role that moms take on willingly – and often unthinkingly. However, to quote a certain ex-First Lady: it takes a village. A mom who tries to do it all and be everything to her children is at serious risk of burn-out, to the detriment of herself and her kids.
You can only bond with your baby if you breast feed
Yes, breast-feeding is something only a mom can do. It’s also a lovely way for mother and child to bond and to maintain that bond. However, that’s not to say it’s the only way. In the initial post-natal period, sometimes called “the fourth trimester”, your baby doesn’t see itself as separate from you. Ultimately, how you feed it won’t affect that or your bonding.
Reading to your child makes them smarter
Reading to children has many advantages. Studies show that kids who are read to are more likely to be readers themselves. They’re also more likely to have a closer relationship with the person who reads to them. However, there’s no conclusive proof that reading to them will make them smarter or affect their future grades at school.
Sex after childbirth is never enjoyable again
Sex after childbirth is different. A woman may also not feel like it for some months after childbirth, especially if she’s breastfeeding or generally just feeling tired from the demands of a young family. However, with time, patience and an understanding partner, it absolutely can be as good as it ever was. Indeed, some women report better orgasms after having children.
Your body will “bounce back”
Celebrities make it look easy. However, even setting aside the likelihood of airbrushing and photoshopping, remember that these women probably have access to personal trainers, nannies and even chefs that are a distant dream to the average mom. These things make it easier to get back into shape but they’re no miracle. Ultimately, everyone’s body changes after pregnancy and childbirth.
Stay-at-home moms have it easy
Some women choose to be stay-at-home moms. Others have no choice, finding childcare unaffordable or incompatible with working hours. However, if a woman arrives at stay-at-home mom status, it’s definitely not an easy position to be in. Sure, it has significant rewards but it’s also hard, unrelenting work and can make even the best-adjusted woman feel isolated from adult company.
Work-from-home moms have the best of both worlds
It’s often said that women are superb at multi-tasking. Sure, some women do make a success of juggling working-from-home with looking after kids. However this is frequently at the cost of their own physical and emotional health. Sadly, it’s an illustration of the maxim that no-one can have it all.
Complaining about your kids means you don’t deserve to have them
The average mom is no saint or paragon. Raising kids is hard work – and usually much harder work than anyone anticipates before they become parents. Of course, a mom is going to feel the strain some of the time. And just because she vents about it doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her kids or regrets having them.
A baby equals the end of your ambitions
Small children are physically tiring. Whatever your pre-child plans, you may find you need to re-adjust your expectations, at least for a while. However, this doesn’t mean an end to your ambitions, whether personal or professional. It may mean a new way of pursuing them or even a reassessment of what you want to achieve – but the end of them? No, not that.
Extended breast-feeding is the mark of an excellent mom
Advice from the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics is to breast feed (alongside supplementary food) until age two. However, the key word is “advice”. Not all women will want or be able to breast feed and no-one should feel guilty for that. There are no medals and it’s perfectly possible to raise a healthy, happy child who’s never been breast fed.
Your kid will be your best pal
Imagining that you can be your kid’s best friend – or, sometimes, any friend at all – is veering on to dangerous ground. A parent-child relationship isn’t one of equals. Your job is to guide and protect them until they’re adults, and sometimes they won’t like how you do this. As they grow up, however, an increasingly equal friendship often starts to bloom.
Moms start blogs
Sometimes it seems like every second a new mom starts a blog. Reading them can leave you feeling a pale imitation of a mother: one who doesn’t craft with her kids at 6 a.m., and bake cookies before lunch. However, take these with a pinch of salt and concentrate on blogs that make you laugh or cry in recognition.
Moms don’t swear
Let’s clarify this one: some moms don’t swear. Others definitely do, even if (hopefully) they don’t do it in front of their kids. If swearing in an empty room or when alone in the car works for you, why shouldn’t you? If no-one’s there to hear it, it’s not hurting anyone or encouraging them to copy you.
Having kids ruins a mom’s life
Having kids changes a woman’s life. This is unquestionable. However, kids do not ruin your life. Yes, you’re likely to experience more stress, tiredness and frustration, and probably have less money and changed career prospects. However, set against this are the incomparable joys of seeing the world through the eyes of your child and guiding them to adulthood.
You’ll never shower again
The early days of new motherhood frequently present unexpected challenges. For instance, how to take a shower when you have a baby who screams whenever you put them down. It might not seem like it at the time but it won’t be this way for ever.
Moms don’t miss their pre-parent life
Of course, moms miss their pre-parent life. Maybe not all the time and maybe not even very often – but who wouldn’t feel at least a twinge of nostalgia for a time when the only person you were responsible for was yourself? If you recognize yourself in this, don’t beat yourself up. You have nothing to feel guilty for.
Parenting books have all the answers
Parenting books are great for the first-timer or the more experienced parent in search of answers to a specific issue. However, they should always be taken with a hefty pinch of salt and no mom should feel afraid to junk whatever “advice” doesn’t feel right or doesn’t work for them.
Being a mom means being a good homemaker
Mothering is its own distinct skill. It doesn’t necessarily correlate with traditional homemaking skills – and no-one should assume that this is the case. Provided your child is clean, properly fed, and educated, it doesn’t matter if you outsource some or all of the means by which you achieve this.
It’s easy to care for a baby by yourself
As any couple who’ve ever argued over how to soothe a crying baby at 3 a.m. will tell you, parenting is hard work even when there’s two of you. And, frankly, it’s even harder if the buck genuinely stops with you. Sure, there’s no-one to tell you you’re doing it wrong but there’s also no-one to give you a break, a lie-in or just a hug.
New motherhood is a happy time
Perhaps more than at any other time in your life, new motherhood is a confusing welter of emotions. While you’re still physically recovering, you’re also subject to hormones that will have you weeping one moment and on top of the world soon afterwards. This is totally normal. What isn’t normal is the expectation that new motherhood is a consistently happy time.
Kids need you less as they get older
Kids may need you in different ways as they get older and more physically independent but they also may need more from you in terms of emotional support. This can be a shock for many moms (and dads), who were expecting more free time and less stress as their kids move into the teen years.
A kid’s questionable choice reflects their parenting
Your child is an independent being. No matter how much you might sometimes wish it, they will make their decisions and, sometimes, they’ll be ones you hate or that make you very sad. Whatever commentators in the media or your own friends and family might tell you, this isn’t a reflection of how you’ve parented them.
There’s a right way to do things
Pick up any child rearing book and you’re pretty much guaranteed to come away with the idea that there’s a right and a wrong way to do things. However, the sheer number of parenting books should provide the clue that this isn’t true. So, too, should the variety of different parenting styles employed by people you know – and most of them will raise well-adjusted kids.
Having a baby fixes bad marriages
Oh dear – definitely not. Having a baby is like throwing a grenade into even the strongest partnership. If your relationship with your spouse or other half is in any way rocky, the baby could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Having a child should be a celebration of your love for each other not the glue that you hope will keep you together.
Seeking help for post-partum depression risks your custody of your baby
Post-partum depression, and the more extreme postpartum psychosis, seem like a cruel joke levelled at a women during what should be one of the most joyful times of their lives. However, it’s not something a mom has any control over – and medics and child protection agencies recognize this. Seeking help is key, both for your own sake and so you can be the best possible mom to your child.
You must enjoy every moment
We’ve all seen the hashtags. #soblessed and #makingmemories can make even the best-adjusted mom feel like she doesn’t deserve any bad days. In truth, however, you won’t enjoy parenting all of the time. The best to hope for is that you enjoy it some of the time and that, in the end, the good memories are dazzling in comparison to the less good ones.