I'm just back from four nights away with my other half on a city break in Sicily, without child! It was hard to leave our little one, and although we video called every day to see her little face, the guilt was still there sitting in the back of my mind. Being asked "weren't you away only recently?" and "where's the baby?" got me thinking though: why should I feel bad?
My daughter was with her grandparents, safe and happy, mostly being spoilt! What more could you want for your child when you're not around? Plus, your relationship tends to change after a baby, so putting some effort into that makes happy parents too.
We're allowed to make ourselves happy.
I observed the many families surrounding us on our holiday and saw how things are so different in other countries. Newborns, toddlers, children of all ages, out walking/in restaurants late at night. Imagine what would be said if that happened back home in Ireland?
The children just seemed so easy going, so carefree - not one tantrum in sight. This isn't to say they don't happen, of course, they do! But just from what I've seen, there were no kicking and screaming children, or parents pulling their hair out! I thought it was wonderful to see, and all involved seem to just thoroughly enjoy their family time.
There is still so much criticism about how we parent, and what is the "best" way, especially in our little country. We all do our best for our children. We all do this parenting thing in a way that works for us and nobody else.
In my opinion, of course, not every child needs to be in bed at 6 pm. Not every baby needs to have their own room. Not every baby needs to be rocked to sleep every night. Not every child needs to walk by 10 months. You get the gist - but every child is different.
Why do we judge others about their parenting skills just because we don't do it their way? It baffles me. Apart from super important safety tips, you don't get this parenting thing from any book.
My baby was walking at 11 months, off the bottles at one, is fiercely independent and yet loves a cuddle at night. partly due to a couple of sick nights that Mama had to try and make things better. Is that such a crime? She doesn't have a 6 pm bedtime, but she doesn't stay up ridiculously late, is it really anyone's business?
I chose not to breastfeed; does that make me a bad mother? I think not. Do I have a right to judge anyone else for breastfeeding? Absolutely not.
The next time you think about judging the next parent, just look at the child and ask yourself: is the child smiling? Is she happy? Is she healthy? Are the parents happy?
If the answer to three out of four of those questions is yes, stop right there.