Back then

I have (almost) finally succumbed to the fact that certain things are deteriorating due to my age. The blurry texts on my phone quickly prompt me to put on my glasses. My muscles not wanting to spring back to life after injuries, remind me that they are (ever so slowly) going downhill. Things change and I must accept it, as graciously as possible so as not to become that archetypal grumpy older woman. I am nowhere near 50 (46) after all. But the big one is beginning to be a reality for friends, possible membership to Saga is merely three and a half years away and it starts making you think about things in a different way. 

Sometimes my Facebook feed and articles I read, remind me of how things were back then, back when my girls were tiny, compared with how they are now. It makes me sound so old, but I am sidestepping slowly that way. Back then, I was a housewife, not a SAHM as there was no such thing. I was dog chained to the patriarchal society. I hated the word. I hated having to write it on forms, whilst beside it writing that my (ex) husband was a ‘Director’. He sounded so important and I sounded so pathetic. Yet I didn’t feel pathetic. I felt like a mum boss: organising, creating, managing her team. I fucked up, but I expect the ‘director ‘ did too. We’re all allowed to fuck up. We’re all allowed days when we feel like jacking it in, when the team don’t want to play the game. When we’re so frazzled we just want to call in sick. 

Back then, when daughter 1 was born, it was a hot, hot Summer. As I lay and fed her at night in the humid open air, without the need for a sheet or duvet, I would doze, as would she. When we woke I would just change her to my other side to feed and so we would slumber the night away in a sticky, milky haze. Daughter 2 was a winter born. At night I did the same with her. It was easier for me than lifting her every hour and sitting shivering in a chair or propped up on pillows with the midnight chill around me. We would lie and doze, under the warmth of the duvet we would fall asleep. One night I woke and she wasn’t there in my gaze, where she had been as she fed. I was engulfed in panic as I reached down under the duvet and pulled her up. A warm bundle of sleeping joy. But what could have been? 

Back then you didn’t hear about the dangers. Within a year my sister, as a rookie policewoman, was called to a house where a mother had rolled on her baby and suffocated him. “Never sleep with your babies” she told me and I reassured her that now I never do. A couple of years on and a cousin’s best friend tragically lost their baby the same way. 

Back then we didn’t know. Now it has a name: co-sleeping. It has become a topic of conversation, an actual choice rather than something you just instinctively do or don’t do. Something I did to make my life easier – my gut instinct driven (or obscured) by a desperate need for sleep. It was for me, not them. They needed milk and security, but they would learn to settle where they were put. Daughters 3 and 4 were in cots in our bedroom for 6 months, then my gut said we needed space. We needed to regain our nest. When the girls were unsettled, they were comforted in their rooms and our bedroom was only ours. Intimacy needs to happen in that bedroom. Couples have to cuddle alone and make love to keep their bond alive. It is your one sanctuary where your love for each other is cemented.

Back then there was no debate. There was no hot potato. Back then gut instinct told us this felt right. When something becomes a choice you have to weigh up its pros and cons and make an informed decision. You are barraged with ‘advice’ and your gut instinct is in danger of being drowned. Back then the main battle to retain your gut instinct was against well meaning relatives, who insisted it was better how they did things “back then”. Your granny’s advice is easier to dismiss as old-fashioned, than the vociferous women on Mumsnet.

I promise I will try not to be that annoying mother, who sees the internet as the devil and the main stress inducer of her daughters’ generation. Especially as I feel that my gut instinct, fuelled by sleep deprivation, could have endangered my babies. I can accept change. Things just seemed a tiny bit simpler back then. 

38 thoughts on “Back then”

  1. Great post. I think instinct and education combined are the perfect combination. Let’s be practical, if we listen to ALL the rules, we’ll turn into stressed out wreaks who never go anywhere or do anything for the ‘fear’ of making a mistake.
    Everything in moderation.

  2. I think the great thing that has come out of the co-sleeping debate is the increased awareness of safe co-sleeping and the development of co-sleeping cots. It’s definitely an instinct thing, and I think that should be encouraged, while being aware of the risks and minimising them as much as possible. I was too terrified to co-sleep with my first, but we do it now he’s older if he’s ill or unsettled. I’m expecting our second now, and we’ve bought a Snuzpod, which attaches to the bed so that your baby is right by you through the night but with no risk of you rolling onto it, or it falling beneath the covers. We’re yet to see if it makes a difference in settling the baby but I can only hope!! #FamilyFun

    1. Those Snuzpods look brilliant and it’s exactly what I needed 18 years ago! I completely agree with your comment on raised awareness creating a more informed choice. Thank you so much for your comments.

  3. So much has changed hasn’t it? I never slept with either of mine as I was just too terrified of anything happening that I would never have actually been able to sleep! There is so much advice now that I can see how people get confused and just don’t know what to do for the best. You are so right, instinct has to play a part along with common sense. My Mum has lots of different views to me and when I was a new mum I really felt clueless so sometimes it can be a lack of confidence that keeps us from doing what we think we should too. #BloggerClubUK

    1. Confidence is key, isn’t it? When you’re knackered and a bit terrified it’s so easily undermined. Thank you so much for your comments.

  4. the worst part of all this new “helpful information” that we have now is how much easier it makes it for people to judge when bad things happen. I’ve found that a little bit of common sense is all that is needed to get through most situations in life #familyfun

  5. The judging on social media is horrendous. Just on my local mums’ Facebook page it’s bad enough. I think being a new parent in the social media spotlight must be hard, but I guess you’ve always got several million people to ask for advice!

  6. A wonderfully honest and thoughtful post. I think so many will dismiss progression as being overly cautious. But all it needs is for one thing to go wrong – is your child something you want to gamble with if you know better? I’m not judging co-sleeping by any means. It’s up to each parent. But it’s good that parents are more fully informed. I had a side-along crib for my daughter but on occasion she wouldn’t settle again in the early morning unless she laid on my. I was so scared of rolling on her, I would prop myself onto 3 cushions so I would never roll over. But I was always very anxious! #FamilyFun

    1. I think these side cots are a brilliant progression. I agree that the more fully informed parents are, the better. I think, however, that information from experts is one thing, but where life is so much more complex now is the deluge of information from others. This is what I feel muddies the waters and makes parents confused and lose that gut instinct. Thank you so much for your comments – really appreciated.

    1. Yes and everyone’s opinions get so confused! It’s also so hard to turn off these opinions when they are in your face on social media. That’s what I would find really stressful about having little ones today. Thank you for your comments and for hosting 🙂

  7. I agree that things were much simpler back then, however education and research makes people aware of the dangers of certain situations. Making things a little less simple has certainly made things safer. Love this post! #coolmumclub

  8. Back then we had little advice and I remember bathing the Tubblet with a Miriam Stoppard book propped up next to the bath as nether of us had bathed a baby before and we wanted to get it right. We didn’t have a clue but she seems to have turned out okay. Now there’s too much advice. Either way, you don’t know what to do #ablogginggoodtime

  9. This was not at all what I expected, great read. I think that often we forget that these things are said for a reason. Guidelines are in place to help us care for our babies the best that we can. I know a few people that have co-slept and I admit there have been a couple of nights when The Chops has been poorly and found himself in bed with me and daddy took the spare room. I hardly slept for fear of squishing him. #coolmumclub

  10. I have a big gap (9 years) between eldest and youngest and the hospital told me to co-sleep with one and then went bananas about co-sleeping with the other. Between 1 and 3, you fed solids at 4months, then 6 months and then by 3 they were discussing moving back to 4 months….it’s very hard to do the right thng if they keep changing the rules! #Stayclassymama

  11. Someone told me this week that the current advice for bottles is to sterilise just before use…it seems the goal posts are always changing and getting a little out of hand. I always tended to air on the side of caution mind you..
    Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub

    1. Oh god, I used to sterilise a whole load in advance! My daughters seem to be doing ok! You are right about those goal posts always changing. Weaning is another area where advice has changed a lot over the years.

  12. Love your post, you sound like me, all my younger friends are always laughing at me and my back then sayings.
    I wish I could stop saying it but I can’t help it!
    Things are constanly changing with regards to what you should and shouldn’t be doing, it’s confussing and everybody is different.
    I know it’s great to share each other’s ideas on what is correct but sometimes it can also make things worse.
    Good thing about being older is you care less what other’s think and are more confident at believing in yourself.
    Lovely post!

  13. It’s funny how many things change over time and how advice changes too. You did what you thought best at the time and that’s all we can ever do. Thanks for sharing a thought provoking post! #CoolMumClub x

  14. I miss “back then.” A lot.

    It seems like today, everything is a debate. Co-sleeping, no sleeping, breast vs. bottle, to circumcise or not. I hate it. The Internet is both a gift and a curse, isn’t it?


  15. They say knowledge is power and whilst I am not about to disagree with that sentiment I totally get what you are saying.I used to have these conversations with parents and grandparents and they would always say, ‘well it wasn’t like that, we just did…’ ‘we didn’t know about this and we were fine’ and they were totally. All the knowledge imparted on me as a first time mum mad me (a lot) neurotic and coupled with sleep deprivation – totally insane I think if I had listened to my gut a little more it would have been kinder. I did more so with my second born and hey we did ok! Thanks for joining us at #familyfunlinky

    1. We know why first babies tend to be the most neurotic and subsequent are more laid back! Thank you for your comments 🙂

  16. It’s simply amazing we all get through and the world survives. W eall make mistakes, course correct and try our very best — well at least most do. They key is that we all have support in our journey and knowing that it really does take a village! #stayclassymama xo

  17. It’s strange how the world and the ‘rules’ constantly shift. I was terrified of falling asleep with my baby in the bed thanks to those antenatal classes I attended. But had I just gone with instinct I’m sure I would’ve fallen asleep with her in my arms. I do think there are far too many rules and opinions these days – we’ll always be doing something wrong. Great post #coolmumclub

    1. That’s true about the fact that we’ll always be doing something wrong nowadays. You need to have a thick skin and strong convictions…hard on a serious lack of sleep! Thank you for your comments.

  18. What a well written thought provoking post. I laughed at vociferous women on Mumsnet…Time will just continue to keep changing parenthood. I remember when my son was born she told me to lie him on his tummy whilst I said back, she said to put mashed potato in his bottle and I said no, she had been told to use a bumper in the cot and I had been told it was dangerous. I am sure in 10 years time what I did ‘right’ will be ‘wrong’ I think a lot of time you have to go with your gut. Thank you for linking to #stayclassymama xx

    1. Mashed potato! I’ve not heard that one before. I bet at the time it was the Annabel Karmel of feeding! Thank you so much for your comments x

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