This week I had my first run-in with a PFB mum.
Having written this post I can see how unfair my labelling of this mum was but please bear with me.
For those who don’t know PFB stands for Perfect First Born, a term coined by MumsNet for parents who have ludicrous ideas and plans for their first baby because they desperately want to do everything ‘right’ but simply don’t have much experience of life with children and so their expectations are somewhat unrealistic.
I say ‘run-in’ but actually I was just left feeling rather embarassed, not that it’s all that unusual these days.
I’m trying to encourage Squidge to eat a healthy and varied diet but I know that he’s going to want to eat sugary things, regardless of how hard I try to persuade him that apple slices are tastier.
I’m going down the route of letting him have sweet things every so often rather than trying to ban sugar completely so that sweet things don’t become more desirable simply because they’re not allowed.
So far he’s had little bits of cake at Christmas and on his birthday and some choccolate at Easter. I also keep a packet of Heinz baby biscuits in his changing bag incase he gets peckish while we’re out and about and there isn’t really anywhere to sit down and have a healthier (but more fiddly) snack such as raisins or a banana.
So when we went to visit some family friends and Squidge decided his tummy was a bit empty I gave him one of the biscuits and a little box of raisins. A little girl a few months younger than Squidge (but with twice as many teeth) started eying his biscuit with interest and so I asked the little girl’s mum if her daughter would like one of Squidge’s biscuits.
I didn’t really expect the reply to be ‘Oh, I’m not letting her have any sugar until she’s at least a year old, besides she’s still at the breast.’
My first thought was that she was being daft and PFB and how dare she criticise my choice to give Squidge the odd biscuit.
My second thought was that it was probably just as well she was banning sugar as her daughter was far bigger than Squidge despite being several months younger.
My third thought was that a simple ‘No thank you’ would have done.
I’m not proud of my thought process and eventually came to the conclusion (several hours later and after being told by my mum and th Northern One) that I’m probably being a bit (a lot) over sensitive.
In all honesty I know I am.
It doesn’t take all that much to knock my confidence as a mum and I see slights in what are actually innocent comments.
This mum probably didn’t mean anything by what she said beyond the fact that she’s made different parenting choices to me in terms of feeding.
The fact that I felt bad about what she said says far more about me than it does about her.
She is clearly confident in the choices that she’s made for her daughter and the fact that I felt as though she was judging me for giving Squidge sugar when, in reality she was doing nothing of the sort shows that I’m really not.
Before Squidge was born I spent a lot of time on MumsNet trying to prepare myself for the fact that I, too was going to be a mum. One of the first threads that I read was about the hilarious (and sometimes demented) things that parents had done when they had their first baby. Most of these parents had realised how daft they were, especially when they’d had their second child.
There were parents who were determined that their PFB would only every drink milk or water, snack only on steamed broccoli, only play with educational toys that were made from wood, never watch television…
The list was endless.
The one that really stood out for me was the woman who squirted ‘No more tears’ shampoo directly into her own eye to test whether the manufacturer’s claim was indeed true.
After reading I was determined that I was not going to be a PFB parent. I wasn’t going to buy a special bath time visor to stop shampoo from geting into his eyes, I wasn’t going to spend hours preparing food a la Annabel Karmel for every single meal and I definitely wasn’t going to walk backwards pulling the pram incase the sun got in his eyes when we went out (thanks MumsNet).
I think I’ve managed reasonably well.
Squidge plays with toys made from a variety of materials and that play a range of increasingly annoying tunes, he definitely has a sweet tooth, refuses to drink water and will only drink juice.
The only thing he doesn’t really do is watch television but I’m under no illusion that this will last. At the moment he likes to watch the F1 racing with my dad and, if he’s tired will sit on my lap and watch the odd iPlayer programme with me but apart from that he’s just not interested.
I’m just enjoying the time left before I can quote every episode of Peppa Pig/Thomas the Tank Engine/<insert childrens programme here>
I think the driving force behind my refusal to get worked up about things like biscuit consumption and plastic toys was that I knew I was at high risk of developing postnatal depression.
I read several accounts of women who had worn themselves out by constantly ironing little outfits/muslins/reusable nappies, making all the baby’s food from scratch, endlessly entertaining the baby and generally having completely unrealistic expectations of motherhood and their own abilities.
I felt as though we’d had a good day if Squidge and I were both washed, dressed, fed had napped at least once and had made it out of the house, even if it was only for a quick walk to the Co-op and back.
Anything else I managed to do was a huge bonus and when the Northern One got in from work I would proudly tell him about the ironing that I’d done or that I’d managed to put on a couple of loads of laundry.
The day that I first got Squidge’s paints out was a proud day indeed. He sat on a towel on the kitchen floor in his nappy and had great fun liberally daubing paint on himself and the floor (and occasionally the paper) with the brushes and his hands.By the time the Northern One got home Squidge had been bathed (and only had the odd trace of paint on him), I’d mopped the stray paint off the floor, washed up the painting things and pegged the paintings up to dry.
Refusing to be a PFB parent is the only way that I’ve survived Squidge’s first year. I’m already exhausted from anxiety, stress and the almost constant over-analysing of just about everything anyone ever says to me, anything else would have tipped me over the edge.
As far as I can see Squidge is a happy, smiling, contented little boy who eats everything put in front of him, very rarely cries in public, loves nursery and (mostly) sleeps through the night. He babbles non-stop, brums his cars along the book shelves and has learned to drop things on the floor and wave bye-bye.
I’m not a PFB parent but I think I’m doing ok.