Category Archives: Parenting

Dragon Mamas revisited

It’s been over a week since my original post Dragon Mamas? A Dad’s Perspective where I suggested that perhaps I needed to mull over this topic in a calm, measured way and come back with a considered response. I was afraid if I responded immediately, I would just fly off the handle so I gave you the polite holding statement. Now that I’ve let it simmer, I’m ready to step firmly off that handle because even after a few days I still feel the same…

…it’s an outrageous, offensive, misogynistic thing to say really, isn’t it? That a lot of women turn into dragons after they’ve had children.

Copyright Mind The Baby

I know women who are dragons, who went on to have children, and are in fact still dragons but that’s not the same thing.

I know women who were dragons, who mellowed considerably in motherhood.

I know women who had babies, and then got a terrible shock when they discovered that their partner thought that his life could stay the same and she would have to adapt to all the life changes having a baby brings by herself.

I know men who refuse to help their partners with childcare in the evenings when they come in from work because they believe they are entitled to “a rest” after a hard day in the office. In fact I feel sorry for these particular men because their babies’ childhoods are disappearing before their eyes (or behind their backs, as the case may be) and they’re missing out on such joy. I also wonder what kind of relationship these men expect to have with their children as they move into adulthood and will they be surprised when friction arises?

I know a huge number of loving, involved, nurturing men who are passionate partners and fathers.

I know that being a mother is one of the most incredible things that a woman can experience, if it’s an experience she wants, but I also think it’s possibly one of the loneliest jobs in the world. Because no one else in your child’s life thinks like a mama, do they?

Mothers sense danger first. Mothers wake when their babies wake. Mothers whose babies are sleeping through the night for the first time, or the first time in ages, sometimes lie awake with their minds working on overdrive, planning, thinking, worrying, when they really should be sleeping too. Mothers walk the floors with their upset or sick small babies for hours into the night so that their partners can rest for work the next day. Mothers hold and soothe and feed their babies in the dark knowing they have to be up for work themselves in an hour or two. Mothers wash and clean and cook and fold and vacuum and iron and study up when they should pause and rest, even for a minute. Sometimes – maybe not often, maybe all the time – mothers are exhausted.

Dragon slayers, don’t belittle your partners behind their backs. Don’t ask yourself why you think the woman you love’s behaviour has changed.

Ask her. She might tell you.

Listen to her.

Do I sound angry? That’s because I am. It’s always more complicated than that. “She turned into a dragon when she had her babies”. Give me a break.

Is breastfeeding a precursor to baby-led weaning?

The publication of a new report from the ESRI today linking breastfeeding with lower rates of childhood obesity in Ireland coincided nicely with a new experience I had last week.

My little boy has never taken a bottle.  Scratch that, he took a small bottle of expressed milk once from his Dad, fell asleep and then promptly denied all knowledge of the event immediately thereafter!  So it’s been breast all the way in our house for 10 months now and counting.

So last week I had my first encounter with a bottle of formula and a small baby.  A good friend and mother of three needed to pick up her eldest from school and left her beautiful sleeping bundle with me.  Her new daughter is both breast and formula fed and I had 2oz to give to her if she woke while her mama was out.  No probs.  Except then I found myself a little out of my depth.  When I went to feed the baby, I found I wasn’t able to read her cues.  I wasn’t sure if she was hungry or not.  It took her a few tries to properly get into taking the bottle which she then drank readily but then I couldn’t tell if she was finished or not.  2oz looked like a small enough amount in the bottle but I really have no idea how much that is so I wasn’t sure if she needed to finish it all or not. In the end I left some behind.  Her mum told me later that she had taken more for me than she does for her Dad.  Is that a bad thing?  Did I give her too much?  Now, she was a little angel so there was no crying – like that desperate, insistent “I’m starving”! cry I remember my son having at that age when he was hungry – and she was a pretty chilled out little lady so I can only presume that she was a bit hungry, took what she needed and was satisfied.

But it got me thinking that in some ways, breastfeeding is like the precursor of baby-led weaning really isn’t it?  At that age, my son let me know when he was hungry – and boy did he let me know – he’d stop when he was finished and when he didn’t want a feed, he was pretty clear about that as well.  So he was totally in charge of his intake all the time.  That’s what caught me off guard with the little lady.  I was in charge – and I didn’t like it!  Breastfeeding and formula feeding are really two very different ways of nourishing your baby.  It makes sense that exclusively breastfeeding mothers and exclusively formula feeding mother would struggle to understand each other’s methods. I know I do but that’s my issue.

You can read the full report here.  But if you’d prefer to skip the economist-speak, the Irish Times have a summary here.   On an aside, I was shocked to read in that article that nearly half of all Irish babies are weaned on to solid foods by four months.  I had no idea it was that high.

In praise of muslins

Putting away the laundry, I just realised that the 30 odd muslin squares that we have seem to be staying in the drawer for a long time instead of making their daily appearance in the washing machine.  Who’d have thunk this day would come?

Ah, the muslin square, I’ll remember it with affection.  A new parent’s best friend.  Always within arm’s reach.  There to catch the puke, mop up the puke, over Dad’s shoulder, under Mum’s boob, over Mum’s boob to stem the flow of an over enthusiastic nipple shooting across the room.  A makeshift bib. A face cloth. A handy stemmer of the flow of little boy piddle when you turn your back for a second to reach for a fresh nappy…their usefulness is endless.  You can never have too many in those early days.  Praise the muslin!

PS I have IKEA ones.  They rock.