Thursday, 6 January 2011

Creeping insecurity

Over the holiday season we have spent time with lots of friends and family and have had a wonderful time. We have also been to lots of places and tried new things with Ella. It has been such a blast but I have developed a case of creeping insecurity.

I think it is a common condition to afflict parents when you are around other people, in close proximity and people see your child and the way you parent up close and personal. We have also been observing other families and the similarities and apparent differences between our kids and family lives.

I knew Ella was pretty energetic and busy but now I am really recognising what a ball of energy she is. And it is easy to fall into the trap of negatively describing her because she is so full on and does not just fit conveniently along side or into the background of activities. She knows her own mind and is happy to communicate it. Fighting against it is futile and usually a waste of time.

So here is my internal dialogue when out in public or with other people:
"They must think we have no control and are those permissive parents who are afraid to give their child boundaries."
"I think they think Ella is a wild beast!"
"Their child eats meals. Mmm Ella doesn't. Is that my fault? Should she be eating meals? Have I done something wrong?"
"Here she goes asking for Mama and beating her chest. Will these people think I am a wierdo hippy if I breastfeed her? Maybe I can distract her. Hmmm no luck there." Then make some self conscious and self deprecating joke.

I know I am not alone in this very unhelpful habit. And recently I have been letting it get to me so much I have been pushing Ella to be more "acceptable" and "normal". It is just so sad and awful that I can let my guessing of what other people might or might not be thinking determine what she needs and how I parent. But I think all parents want to know they are doing a good job and in our culture a quiet child who fits in and behaves in a predictable manner is seen  as a 'success'. But we are all unique and different and somehow I need to celebrate Ella's uniqueness. In her freedom to be herself she encourages me to be free to be my own person and not to let 'normal' be my guide. She as the confidence to walk out into the world and throw caution to the wind. If an 18 month old can, surely I can give it a go.


  1. Alexia7:19 pm

    Very true that you're not alone feeling this way Marion, - you also feel like this if you have a child that is "too quiet", who won't join in or say anything! Accepting who they are is really all you can do.
    BTW - I have never thought of Ella as any of the things you've described!

  2. so true, i feel all those things about mine; my kids only eat 2 kinds of fruit and no vegetables at all, Maddy has some boundary and personal space issues that can be embarrassing when we go out, lewis still doesn't talk well so people must think he's slow, i'm impatient and mean to my children.... its soooo yuck when you realise you are trying to shape your children to fit in with your mis-conceived assumptions of what others see.... i feel this all the time.

  3. The great thing about a blog post like this, and the resultant comments, is that you realise that no matter what your child is like and no matter what societal norms they do or don't fit in to - everyone feels the same way! I think guilt goes hand in hand with motherhood and we, the mums, have to realise this, then push it aside and just think "Is my child happy? Am I happy?" and if both the answers are "yes" then we are doing it right.

  4. It is sooo hard to not adjust your parenting so that you meet with approval by others around you. As people grow, and have children themselved their expectations also change. I have some overriding thoughts that I try to hold onto... Im not trying to raise a well behaved child but a well adjusted adult (Long term planning)..and does this action increase or diminish our relationship. Hard to hold onto when you have someone crying for lollies in supermarket aisle but I held onto this the other day, and we walked away with our relationship intact and no lollies :)