“You’re not feeding that baby again, are you?”
“If you feed your baby to sleep, she’ll never learn to go to sleep on her own. It won’t hurt her to cry.”
“You’re not giving into her again, are you?”
“If you carry your baby around all the time, she’ll never want to be put down.”
“You’re still feeding during the night? It’s time you got that child into a routine. She might cry for a few nights, but it’ll be worth it.”
“When are you going to wean that child? It’s not as if she needs your milk, you know.”
“I wouldn’t sleep with your baby, if I were you. You’ll never get your baby out of your bed.”
“You’re spoiling her!”
“You’re making a rod for your own back.”
“Show her who’s boss.”
“You’re in charge.”
“She’ll end up ruling the house, you know.”
“She’ll turn into a demanding child.”
I breastfed my babies whenever they needed it, all the way around the clock most times. I carried my children everywhere in my arms or in a sling, and later in a backpack. I slept with my little ones snuggled up next to me in bed.
Yes, there were times when I got tired of constantly seeing to the needs of my children. Some days I wanted my space back and yearned to have my arms free. Some nights I got fed up of being woken yet again by a hungry child who took up too much of the bed. I didn’t always want to find a child at my breast every time I lowered myself into a chair. Sometimes I cried and wanted to run away.
But I breastfed, carried and slept with my children anyway.
What happened? Did I end up with demanding kids who rule the house?
Yes, I did.
I slip through the back door, trying not to make a sound, but moments later my daughters appear.
“Mum! Why didn’t you tell us you were hanging the washing on the line? You’re not allowed to do it by yourself. We want to help.”
I find an onion, a chopping board and a knife. But before I have removed the onion skin, I hear a voice. “Mum! What do you think you’re doing? I’m making dinner tonight. Go and rest.”
As soon as dinner is finished, I head towards the sink and turn on the tap.
“Mum! That’s my job. Someone pour Mum a glass of wine and make her go sit down.”
“I’m not allowed to do anything,” I complain. “Who’s in charge around here?”
“We are!” my children shout with a grin.
Yes, my children rule the house.
“Mum, I need a hug,” says Gemma-Rose, as she climbs onto my lap
“Can I have a hug?” asks Imogen, opening her arms.
Callum comes home from work. “I need a hug, Mum!”
Small bodies wriggle inside the shelter of my arms. Bigger bodies enfold me inside theirs. It’s never-ending. I lose count of the number of hugs I have to give my children each day.
Yes, my children are very demanding.
So how do we have demanding kids who rule the house?
Love them. Love them some more. See to their needs. All of them, whatever it costs. Listen to them.
And ignore all those things some people might say.