Motherhood is Getting the Photocopier to Work

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I have a friend who is currently 7 months pregnant. A little while ago we were talking, and I mentioned that there’s some advice that recommends dummies not be introduced until breast feeding is established. “There are too many rules” she declared, clearly annoyed.

I was a bit taken aback by this. I’m not the fondest of rules for the sake of rules (I’m more of a questioning the lines person), but I’ve been a mother for 12 weeks now, and pregnant for a long nine months before that, and I’ve never really thought of motherhood as something with a lot of rules. After all, if there were clear rules we’d probably agree on more. But then, there are a lot of people telling us what to do – even if it is contradictory.

It made me think a bit about how I regard motherhood. Becoming a mother is a bit like start a new job. I’m awkward and uncomfortable most the time and there’s people (or in this case, a person) relying on me. I really need to get my head around the job as quick as I can, and I need to think quick on my feet. And I can’t get the photocopier to work.

Then someone steps in to give me a hand. They may not look particularly friendly on the outside, but then again, they might immediately become my best friend. But the important thing is they have knowledge that I don’t have. They can tell me how to win over the demanding people relying on me. They can tell me how to make sure that the whole office doesn’t fall down around me. They know the photocopier codes and how to use it so it’ll work forever.

There might be more than one person helping me, and sometimes their advice will be contradictory. But I listen to them anyway, consider what they’re saying and follow the path that best suits me.

When it comes to motherhood, I can really only think of a couple of ‘rules’ and these usually involve life and death matters – like putting your child into a car seat. But there is a lot of advice out there, and I do need to take the time to think the advice through, think about where the advice comes from and follow the advice that feels best for me.

The advice can be essential though, especially when it comes from authoritative sources. The advice that’s been given to prevent SIDS, for example, has changed the way people think about infant sleep and has prevented further deaths. The advice on establishing breastfeeding means a lot of hospitals have adopted breastfeeding friendly practices. If we never hear different advice, we might never learn about things that can enhance the lives and safety of our kids.

But is motherhood full of rules? I don’t think so. Instead I think it’s a brand new job, filled with people – helpful and otherwise – who are here to help us learn the rules.

And they make the photocopier work.

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19 comments

    1. I still think of it more as advice, than rules. With rules, if you break them there’s usually some sort of consequence – you get fined for speeding in your car, you have to stay in at lunch for being rude to the teacher. But with motherhood, we can all approach things in our own way without those consequences (most of the time). For example – with feeding one family might buy puree from the shop, another might make their own and another might be doing baby-led weening. The outcome is the same – the baby gets food – but parents follow their own paths and what’s best for them and their family to get there

  1. I think it’s a great analogy! I think there are only a few concrete “rules” with babies, mainly safety based, the rest are guidelines and/or advice. Good luck with your “photocopier”!

  2. I’m agree with you, but think that often it’s the new mums who are inundated with opinions especially from the office gossip who occasionally gets it wrong. Great analogy though ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. There’s the catch – the office gossip! I guess that’s where we need organisations – like SIDS for Kids – with well researched information. It gets increasingly hard to find that too – there’s a fair number of published books with unresearched approaches to parenting out there

  3. i think there is a spectrum of advice, and there are also lots of rules – advice can sound like rules sometimes
    i’ve battled with this concept on many occasion and i think my children do best when i stop and listen to “me”
    (there i go, giving out advice again!)
    xxxx

  4. Totally agree. You take what works for you on and ignore the rest. For what it’s worth, I would have told a girlfriend the same about the BF and dummies x

  5. I quite like hearing advice from other mothers about what has worked for them with their children (one of the reasons I read blogs). I also like the idea of being able to choose which advice I think is helpful and ignore the ideas I think are irrelevant.

  6. I agree with Josefa- advice can often sound like rules. Although it can be helpful, it can also lead to unnecessary anxiety. I think following instinct is also important. All the best with this lovely newborn stage! My youngest son recently turned 1 and so I’m mourning babyhood.

  7. I think some people make you feel like there are rules. It was rarely made clear to me that there were a bunch of options and it was up to me to work out which suited. On the other hand, some things could have been highlighted to me as being EXTREMELY helpful and I might have paid more attention! Like a routine for example. I really wish I’d got that happening earlier, with all my kids (I never learned).

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