I know you’re tired. Pregnancy is tough and birth never goes to plan. It feels like you haven’t slept in weeks. Your newborn is crying in her basket, and all you want to do is sleep. You’ve read all the parenting books. Your baby is clean and dry, she’s not hungry or thirsty so they tell you to leave her, you’ll make her clingy by picking her up.
But those other parenting books tell you to hold her. They tell you that all she needs is comfort, to be close to her mum. But don’t cuddle her because of them. Cuddle her because next week, she’ll be a few days older. Cuddle her because in two weeks, she’ll no longer be a newborn. She’ll let you sleep a little, go a few minutes longer between feeds and you’ll be delighted. But those beautiful newborn days will be gone.
Spend time with your baby when she opens her eyes. The books tell you to leave her on her play mat, let her get used to the world. They tell you to let relatives hold her and teach her to be sociable from the start. Don’t let her get too attached to you, it will only make your life harder in the long run.
And the other books? They say that you should be with her, build her confidence by letting her know you’re always there. But don’t spend time with her because of them. Spend time with her because soon, you’ll put her down on her play mat and she’ll roll over and crawl off. Before long, she’ll be taking those first wobbly, tentative steps and walking away.
Take your child for days out. Read with her, play games at home. Teach her to ride a bike, use a pen and appreciate her surroundings. The parenting books tell you to let her be independent, to be bored and to play alone. Unless you read the other books, the ones that tell you to do things for her until she asks to do them herself.
But don’t read with her because of them. Read with her because in the blink of an eye, you’ll be at the school gates, kissing her goodbye. And soon, she’ll be reading on her own. Playing with her friends and entertaining herself in front of a screen.
Go to her school events. Be there for the assemblies, the sports days, the presentations, the school plays and the prize givings. Be there even though you have too much to do, you don’t know anybody and they’re boring. Be there to clap, cheer and show your support, even when she tells you that she doesn’t want you there.
Be there because before you know it, it will be the last presentation. She will be accepting her degree and glancing over at you with a grin, before turning on her heels and making her own way in the world.