I remember a few days into being new parents, while our new born was crying my husband turned to me and asked, “What does he want?”, to which i replied, “I don’t know, I just met the kid!”.

When Zi was born he had to be monitored for 4 hours so I spent the first 4 and a bit hours of his life waiting in my hospital bed for him. As soon as those 4 hours where up I sent my husband straight down to neonatal to collect him.

All of a sudden Don comes into my room with this tiny little bundle and says, “They said he’s been crying and is probably very hungry”. Oh my goodness, I have to breast feed this baby?? He is now my responsibility? When did all of this happen??

It only took a split second of holding this beautiful little baby in my arms to feel complete and utter love for him. I was nervous but cautiously confident to be his mum.

The first night was amazing, he slept 8 hours and barely made a noise. As the days went on I felt more and more capable in my abilities as a mum. On the third night in hospital Zi started to cry….then scream…..then continue to scream.

Don and I tried everything. Even though it had been hours, we knew that we would eventually sort out the problem and that Zi was still safe and looked after, regardless of his distress. It wasn’t until the world’s meanest midwife entered the scene that I began to fall apart.

Within 5 minutes of this woman telling me I shouldn’t let him cry, I should give him a dummy, he would lose lots of weight and get sick from crying so long, it definitely wasn’t wind (which was what I was sure he had), I was a mess. I was second guessing every decision i made. I felt like I was inadequate as a mother. Turns out he did have wind……so in your face midwife from hell!

So many times over the past few years of being a parent I have encountered women who are judgmental about how others parent. Quick to say what others are doing wrong, and how they should be doing it…I still manage at times to put my foot in it from time to time without even meaning to.

We’ve all been there, we’ve all had those moments of thinking we know better, that if they did it our way they would get better results. As a childcare worker I was definitely judgmental from time to time. I had my ideas of what I would do differently as a parent.

As I watched my  friends go through the process of becoming parents and seeing the different struggles I began to see how difficult being a parent is. Rewarding, absolutely, but not without challenges.

From that point on I tried to keep my ideas about parenting to myself or only share with the disclaimer ‘I want to give this a go…. if works it works, if not, oh well..’ but I definitely had my opinions.

Since becoming a mum all of that has gone out the window. There are things I didn’t think i would do that I do all the time, there are things I thought would work that didn’t, and things that I’ve had great success with.

So what have I learnt through all of this?

As mums we are continually bombarded with conflicting views on how we should raise our children. From controlled crying to attachment parenting there’s a never ending stream of information, research and books telling us what we’re doing wrong.

What do we need most?

We need support. We need to encourage each other. We need to remember that only a mother knows her children best.
Instead of being quick to judge we should be quick to uplift and edify each other. To pray for each other and support each other.

Regardless of our different styles, bedtime routines and meal plans we are all in the same boat. We’re all trying to navigate through some of the most challenging years of our lives. There are many books written about parenting but how many are written about how to parent your child? I’d love to find a book called ‘How to raise the Reddin boys’…if anyone has seen it can you send me a copy?

This is my challenge to you (and to me)…

Next time you see that poor mum handling a screaming toddler in the shops, give her that ‘you’re doing a great job, we’ve all been there’ look.

When you see a friend yelling at her kids because she’s hit that ‘nope’ stage, offer to make her a coffee. Allow your friends to vent their mummy frustrations without judgement or suggestions unless they ask for it.

If you talk with a mum who has older children than you, don’t judge, you haven’t been there yet, listen to her, and remember that chat when your child hits the same age and does the same thing.

The best thing you can ever do for a mum is to reassure her that she is a good mum and that she’s not alone in this parenting journey.

And remember, God has blessed you with children.

God loves you.

Take your lead from Him. Do things in His strength and not your own. Take refuge in Him in times of parenting struggles.

Most of all, remember to enjoy these little blessings God has given you.

Psalm 18:1-2
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.