Matilda’s sitting in a purple Bumbo on the table looking perplexed.
Not only is she unsure why I’ve shoved her into this rubber thing she’s trying to squirm out of, I’m waving a spoon full of orange goo in her face. When your usual routine consist of boob, bassinet, change table and playmat, this is a break from the norm.
She’s 5 months old and I’m trying her on solids.
Instead of cooking an organic sweet potato sourced from the Farmer’s Markets, I’ve gone for a packet job already.
There’s no hope for the next child.
She grabs the spoon off me and dips her tongue into it like a lion at a watering hole. I try to guide the spoon into her mouth and she pulls the most unimpressed face a 5 month old can muster.
She takes the spoon and has another lick. Then she decides it might be nice to smear it on her face and clothes. I wonder if this is baby-led weaning? Perhaps this will help her have a really positive relationship with food. I’m sure someone was telling me about it.
No one can ever prepare you for how hard it is to raise a child. No one told me that it was harder than having a goldfish. Except a goldfish that never dies, which is unusual, so maybe in a sense it’s easier than that.
I’ve taken the head-in-the-sand approach avoiding all recommended books, websites, apps, podcasts and blogs about parenting. I like to think of it as free-range parenting but without the anti-vaxxers. Using my intuition and maternal instincts.
But I’m rapidly approaching a season where the maternal instincts are running low. Weaning her onto solids, weaning her out of our room, weaning myself off the evening wine. I need some advice but I’m overwhelmed by information.
Information is both a blessing and a curse. Google any symptoms and you’re likely on the right track but also on the road to something terrifying like cancer.
Yesterday, I took Matilda out in the carrier for a walk into town. It was a sunny Spring day and I envisaged strolling around, browsing in shops with coffee in hand, serene angel asleep on my chest. Turns out it was more screaming red-faced devil-child who hates the carrier and thrashes around trying to free herself while I abandon my coffee in the op shop.
I went home defeated and dejected, wallowing in self-pity. Maybe I didn’t put her down for her nap at the right time. Maybe I didn’t put her in the carrier properly. Maybe she was just hungry.
My expectations need calibration. Somehow I’ve managed to buy into the idea that if only I did more research and read the books I would find parenting easier. I would have control rather than feeling in over my head.
Perhaps it’s the cult of ‘best practice’ which consumes the workplace. ‘Good enough’ isn’t good enough anymore it’s which methods will produce Harvard graduates.
I’m sure there are really fantastic scientifically-proven child-rearing techniques out there. People dedicate their lives to research and training parents. I just can’t seem to distinguish the good from the excessive in all the noise.
This baby-led weaning might cause a baby-led breakdown but it’s worth a try. Maybe it will help Matilda foster a positive relationship with food or maybe the tantrums are inevitable. There’s no guarantees in life so I have no idea why I’m looking for them in my parenting.
Maybe kids are sent to us to help us shatter the illusion of control. It’s easy to believe that perfection is just a click away, but we would do well to breathe through the chaos of it all.
Because some days it’s all we can do, just breathe.
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