To think I was a terrible first time mum(39 Posts)
Anyone else get this?
I've recently had my second baby and I am just a much better mother this time around than I was 5 years ago.
First time around I was horribly stressed by new motherhood. I really thought DD would fit around my life and it was a shock to the system when she wouldn't. I was OBSESSED with trying to get her into a routine, desperate to prove myself, completely uptight about everything.
Yes I was loving and gave cuddles etc but in between I was huffy and impatient - always complaining that she wasn't sleeping properly, feeding properly, too clingy, cried too much - and I'm sure she picked up on my 'wtf have I done with my life?' vibes.
She's fine, thankfully, but also a very sensitive child and I can't help thinking I did that to her by not making her feel unconditionally loved and secure.
One time she vomited all over me after throwing a tantrum and I cleaned her up in silence, not offering any comfort, and put her to bed very curtly. She wasn't even two. I can't believe I did that.
This time - five years later - I am much more relaxed, happy to go with the flow, feed on demand, co sleep and try never to let new DS cry. I am happier to be a mum, more responsive and just generally a kinder, more maternal person.
I hate that DS is getting the best side of me, while DD had a grumpy cow of a mother for her first few years. I'm really ashamed actually.
Not at all
Going from no children to suddenly having one is a life changing event. You are literally learning everyday on how to be a parent.
A second child has the benefit of you being more experienced
Don't think about the past. Just focus on the future
Bless you! I was a ROTTEN mother for my (only child)'s first 7 years. I always ADORED her, but I wasn't good (I was such a "shouty" mum. I accidentally dropped something heavy on her head when she was a crawler, and when she cried [in pain] snapped at her "I didn't do it on purpose"). I've got better. I'm so, so glad I've got better. Our relationship is good now. You don't only get one chance (thank god!!!!)
Tell her you love her a lot. And show her. Listen to her now. You and she will be fine.
And, congratulations on being better!
I think subsequent children benefit so much from being not the first.
My first and currently only child was born mid 2015 and there were times when her only being able to sleep on me drive me almost insane. Now I understand why older parents told me to enjoy it whilst it lasted. She's 13 months old now and I cannot remember the last time she wanted to sleep on me. I'm sure that if/when I have a second child, I will enjoy it that little bit more because I'll know how fleeting it is.
I'm so grateful we were gifted a natural sleeper with a sunny temperament but first babies are such a massive adjustment. Don't feel bad.
I'm only a few weeks into being a mum but I think about this all the time. It's such a steep learning curve and I feel like I'm making mistakes every day (and I'm sure will continue to do so). You just can't learn everything you ideally would learn before your first, you need to actually go through it.
I think a) it's really common to feel this way and I expect you're being overly harsh on yourself and b) first born children are statistically far more likely to be "successful", so despite being our guinea pigs it clearly works out for them in the end!
Don't beat yourself up
I could have written this OP! I too have a slightly anxious older DC and a robust younger DC who gets the benefits of my experience that older DC didn't - I co sleep, couldn't give a hoot about sleeping through, sling wear without worrying about timing between naps... All the things I didn't do with DC1 for fear of spoiling their ability to self soothe
I was obsessed with getting them sleeping through the night. I remember huffing and puffing to my friends every morning when poor DC1 woke 2-3 times ( like babies do). I think more experienced mums were a bit at my expectations.
But to be fair I also had horrible pnd from the birth and lack of support. I do look a pictures of their first year and feel sad I didn't enjoy it - I'm amazed how much more I am able to cope with/enjoy with DC2. The guilt!
I do think it's probably normal to feel guilty though and that all eldest children bear the brunt of inexperienced parents. I think temperament is partly nature too, so it's not completely parenting that forms personality.
Either way I do "love bomb" my eldest now when I see her feeling anxious or worried - not easy with a small baby but I try and give her some proper 1-2-1 every day where I let her lead or regress back to a baby. Oliver James wrote a good book about it.
and for you and all second timers thinking "why was I so unreasonable with DC1?"
I feel massively guilty about DC1, DC 2 was better, now with DC3 I think I've got the hang of it!
I feel the same, and dc2 isn't even here yet (but due any day now!) I'm so much more relaxed in this pregnancy than in my first, and I feel that I'll be more relaxed with dc2.
With dc1, dh and I went from being say 'John and Sue' to mum and dad. It was hard as we'd never obviously been those roles before, and had no idea what the hell we were doing! With dc2, we already are mum and dad, which will hopefully make it easier to cope with.
I have 3 DC. I could have written your post. I found it really tough the first time round and was much more laid back with DC2. However DC2 brought his own challenges as he got older (which turned out to be illness rather than bad behaviour) and I did guilt myself at the time that I had created a monster toddler by being too laid back when he was a baby.
By DC3 I had pretty much got the hang of it and I can't think of anything that I really regret.
To put this into context they are now 14, 12 and 10. If I hadn't told you, you would have no idea that they were treated any differently as babies. So please don't guilt yourself about treating them differently.
I wonder if age comes into it?
I'm afraid I was the opposite, I just went with the flow, I was an older first time mother and not afraid to challenge advice. I trusted my instincts, just let motherhood take over and enjoyed every second with my newborn.
I was also like this with DS1 to some extent, and he is by no means sensitive! I think we have much less influence on their personalities than we'd imagine.
DS2 is benefitting from my experience, but DS1 had me all to himself for three years. Swings and roundabouts.
I could have wrote your post op.
It makes me so sad and i often think about it. I think for me, although i have learnt so much and a much better mum to both dc now, the guilt for not being the same with dc1 will be there for forever
I think that those of us who have more than one child are invariably better parents to the second one. I understand your guilt. I was far too stressy with DC1 too.
Well I've been pretty crap with babies both times. DD is 3.8 and DS just turned 12 months and I've been anxious, worried about feeding, obsessed about routines and generally impatient for both their first years.
I try not to give myself a hard time. I love them both and do my best but I'm not good at the first year, much much better from toddlerhood onwards and they're both great kids now.
If you were only crap once then you're better than me :-)
I have two children, I don't think I was a better parent to the second. Pretty much the same.
This made me think of this article, it is a long but interesting read nymag.com/thecut/2016/06/attachment-theory-motherhood-c-v-r.html
I feel totally the opposite! Dd got my best, I had time, I was relaxed. She slept easily and was a happy little baby, happy on the floor, being cuddled, in her pushchair. She napped, ate and slept well. She teethed without apparent pain and was generally a happy little soul. Ds is getting the impatient, tired and fed up me. At almost 2 he has slept through 3 times (10-5). He is almost always ill. He won't give up breastfeeding and screams for hours the times I've tried to stop co-sleeping. I feel he is constantly interrupted and trailed about after dd, whereas she got a scheduled designed to meet her needs. I'm worried that because I've either needed him to sleep now or I've been waking him to take dd somewhere or pick her up that I've permanently messed up his ability to sleep.
I'm out of ideas. As far as I can see he will be a co-sleeping breastfeeding 5 yo at this rate... and I never wanted to feed past 1yo. He is completely different to my dd and any 'experience' I got from parenting her first has not helped in the slightest.
I could have written this myself! So stressed about stuff with my first and have enjoyed motherhood so much more with my second. However, as much as I'm a different mum second time around, he's also a different baby, much easier than my DD in certain respects.
Don't feel any guilt, as a PP said, we sometimes overestimate how much our actions influence their personalities. My DD is sensitive and a bit of a stress-head but then so am I (no shit ) so it could just be that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. She's also v brave, confident and a happy little thing 95% of the time, so we're doing something right, which I'm sure you are too.
I am the same OP!
What really bothers me is that I'm still ridiculously intense about ds1 particularly his health. I ended up in tears last time I took him to the gp! Whereas I've only needed to take ds2 twice in his life! The trouble is ds1's temperature shoots up to 40 degrees at the first sign of illness (and recently had febrile convulsions) so I often end up in a&e or out of hours. Whereas ds2 so far/touch wood tends to be less ill, less often. I worry about ds1 all the time (will he get bullied at school, is his bed comfy enough, is he worrying too much (HA!)) whereas with ds2 I tend to think 'nah he'll be fine' and don't give it a second thought!
The thing is although your experience of parenting inevitably is different with each child, you love them both (/all) SO much, and equally, and that is what they will know/remember!
For the first time in your life you are responsible for a little person who is totally dependent on you
We all obsess and that is a good thing
I'm ttc at moment I know second time I will do things different but you do what you thought was right
I was different with each of my 3 oldest DCs. Guilt and beating yourself up about stuff seems to come with being a parent IMO!
All girls, there's only a small age gap between each of them and i had them young. I worry that i was: uptight and strict with 1st, struggled to bond and a bit robotic with 2nd, maybe i tried too hard and went too far the other way (spoiling/smothering?) with 3rd.
Do they now, as teens/20s, show traits which confirm my worries? Hmm. Well, you could say DD1 is 'sensitive' and very much likes everything in order, DD2 doesn't like physical displays of affection too much; quite independent, and DD3 can be very ditzy and is quite a clingy 'young for her age' 18 year old.
On the flip side however they are all 3 very happy, family loving, content, popular, settled young adults. They get on well with each other. They are carving their lives out surrounding themselves with good people. We all have a laugh together, we tell each other our troubles, we get together often, we get on. They reminisce about their childhoods and have fond memories. I must have done some things right ... <hopes>
I have had a 4th DD (2.5) now as an older mum. (she's spoiled rotten by her older sisters!) All the guilt and fears and worry are right back, even though i should know what i'm doing by now! My advice to myself: do your best as you go along. It's all we can ask of ourselves.
Sorry for ramble.
Honestly? Give yourself a break. You've done your best and that is what is the most important thing. Besides, it might be that you have a child that I much easier this time round (or happy to go with what you are doing. Not all babies are happy with co-sleeping or being 'relaxed' re routine, I know I had one of them, dc2).
TBH, I had PND with dc1 (and then AND with dc2!) and I didn't bond with him at all. It took me years to be able to say I loved him as much as I love dc2. You can say that dc1 really had the raw deal there. In reality, a few years down the line, it doesn't matter.
Both dcs have had their hardship, thy both have been challenging. They both have learnt from these hard times and this is what it has made them who they are. Dc1 is very empathic and careful about other people (sometimes I worry that he is too much like that), dc2 is very hard working (sometimes I worry that he is too hard on himself and expect perfection).
I was SO different, as a mum and as a person, between my first and last baby. But at 23 DS1 has turned out pretty good. I don't think he bla,Es me for being a rubbish mum. All you can do is your best, whether it's your first and ninth baby. And as long as you did that, then there's no need to beat yourself up.
op. Our kids jus need us - who we are - not some perfect robot type. And your dd will not remember the vomit / curt incident so forgive yourself and move on.
This thread is so honest and has me welling up as I feed DS2, while feeling guilty about not giving enough time to ds1 and experiencing the near constant worry in the back of my mind about what kind of job I'm doing with them both and how I might negatively affect their futures. It's exhausting isn't it?
We never pause to think about all we get right though, do we? All the love, cuddles, fun, play, care. We are doing the best we can, and that's enough. We are enough
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