Donegal mum Maria Rushe outlines an ideal college course that would prepare women for real mammyhood.
My journey through the jungle of Mammyhood so far has many things. I am always learning and yet it feels like I never learn!
Regardless of how you become a Mamma: pregnancy, IVF, adoption, fostering, marriage… if you are responsible for loving a child, you’re a Mammy. And it’s quite a job. A career. A vocation even!
Let’s face it. If I want to embark on any career, I generally need to spend 3-5 years being educated to qualify me properly to attempt it. Being a Mammy (and indeed a Daddy!) doesn’t require a degree, and yet it is the most challenging career in the world.
As parents, we become educated in life and often hilariously terrifying ways of the world that no university could ever teach…
but if they did…
IF there was a degree in parenting, here is what I imagine it would look like:
“Bachelor of the art of Perfect Parenting”
- Pregnancy and Parenting: A beginner’s guide
- Preparing for your new arrival – Required equipment
- Food preparation for the healthy family
- Techniques for sleep and behaviour
- Planning your child’s play and Sensory Scenarios
- First aid for Mummies
- Relationships; maintaining healthy romantic and familial relationships
- Positivity, Mindfulness and Sleep Deprivation – How to deal with it.
- Language and Speech Development.
And at the end, you would be a QUALIFIED parent. You would have folders of notes, and a brain bursting with facts and figures, and lesson plans and medical references.
You’d be sorted.
But as a Real Mammy, who knows that most of the above is utter crap, and that these headings only SCRATCH the surface of parenting, let ME suggest what a parenting degree outline should look like!
“Bachelorette of Thoroughly Modern Mammyness.”
Module 101 – Pregnancy and Parenting
A beginner’s guide – Life as you know it, ends here. You only think you know what pain, fear and exhaustion are now. Pregnancy is like a “One size” bra. It fits some women better than others. Mine fit like a 4 man tent. You may glow, or you may puke. It’s great fun. But at the end of it, there’s a wonderful thing. And there’s also the Love. I won’t even try to prepare you for that. I can’t.
Module 102 – Change everything
The house, the layout of your rooms, the car. Everything. And enjoy your magazine perfect showhouse with your fancy candles and Feng Shui… That shit ends once your minion is able to move about on your once-but-never-again-clean rug. All ornaments and valuables should be put up on a high shelf, or locked away for approximately 15 years. Actually, just sell them. You’re going to need the cash for the stuff.
Module 103 – All the Stuff
Get your list of Baby Essentials. Got it? Now, rip it up. You do not need 250 steriswabs, or 5 pairs of scratch mittens. The only thing on those lists that isn’t exaggerated, is the quantity of industrial sized sanitary nappies, sorry, towels. Buy ALL of those bad boys. And then buy extra.
And as for the list of furniture, equipment and travel accessories? Get your basics. Car seat, cot, baby bath, changing mat. Depending on YOUR own house and YOUR own situation, you’ll know what you need as you need it. Do not buy all the everything! Trust me, you’ll end up with a house that looks like a Baby shop has puked on it and, in approximately 8 months time, as you put the only-used-once-stuff in the attic, you’ll wonder why the hell you bought it in the first place.
Oh! And those lovely nursing chairs that we all want for our idealistic moments of feeding baby in the nursery? They are the most glorified clothes storage devices in the world. Your baby will more than likely be in your room for the first 6 years…sorry months… anyway, and when you ARE doing night feeds, you’re more than likely going to want to do them in the heat of your bed, rather than in an empty room. Yes, they’re lovely and I’m sure someone will disagree here, but that’s how I see them… A clothes horse.
Module 201 – Techniques for Sleep and Behaviour
Pray, wing it and go with your gut. You can’t control your baby’s sleep. You can’t control your baby’s behaviour. You can only go with what you get on a daily basis and trust me, often, as cliched as it is, it IS just a phase. And if you do find yourself genuinely struggling with either of these issues, ask for help.
There are brilliant (and actually qualified with real degrees) professionals in our community and there are SO MANY brilliant resources that Mums and Dads can access easily. Google Parent Hub. Parent Hub, Donegal.
You’ll be amazed at what they offer. Or talk to your PHN or GP.
Module 202 – Planning your child’s play
Buy toys. Watch child play with boxes, lunchboxes, remote controls and ANYTHING they shouldn’t have that could pose danger to them. Shake head at the amount of educational crap in the toy corner and get out the saucepans and wooden spoons. Oh and get down on your knees and play!
Module 203 – First aid for Mummies
Have a meltdown everytime they cut themselves, bump their head, break a sweat, have a strange poo or get a temperature. Slowly learn to recognise your own baby’s physical reactions and signs. Google symptoms, freak out…ask on a Mammy forum…freak out…
But seriously, we’re mums. Unless you ARE a Doctor, if you’re concerned about Baby, GO TO A DOCTOR! And follow your gut. While it may be sick with worry, Mamma’s gut is always right.
Relationships – learning how NOT to murder your partner at 3am
Sex – You will want to think about it again some day…
It shall be frowned upon, but some days, even the most Sanctimonious of Sanctimommies thinks about gin at 11am. They just won’t admit it.
Any parent who has never sworn behind the back of their child, or at least mouthed a profanity when they hear “Mammy” for the 387th time that day, is either sedated or a liar…
Disney lyrics – because you will need to know them.
And so there you go. I hereby declare the Bachelorette of the Thoroughly Modern Mammyness open for application.
No previous experience or qualifications required.
It’s a tight course, but the end result is something that no amount of paper or letters after your name can measure. But if you really want to show off your qualifications, just start signing off like this…
Suggestions for extra optional modules on a postcard please.
How do you measure up?