Read your parenting books before labour commences, because you won’t have time once you actually become a parent

Welcome to The Beta Parent. I’m a first-time mother of a toddler who is sweet, funny, lively, and demands a huge amount of my attention, i.e. all of it when she’s awake. Before she was born, I had a vague idea what raising a child might be like, and what kind of parent I wanted to be. And then my own child came along and just about the only conviction I held on to was to breastfeed, but even that has not gone the way I imagined it would.

Let’s lay down the background, so you know where I stand.

  • As mentioned above, I always intended on breastfeeding. I know it confers excellent health benefits and costs us nothing except my voracious appetite. I certainly did not expect to still be breastfeeding on demand at 18 months. The reason I am is not because I’m a crunchy earth mama, it’s because I’m lazy, and breastfeeding to natural term is easier than weaning her off and dealing with all that crying (her when turned down, me when I get mastitis).
  • I thought all babies were weaned with purée, but we accidentally began (and have continued) baby-led weaning because it was easier to let The Child try her pincer grip out rather than dealing with her crying because she didn’t want to be spoon-fed.
  • We bought a nice — but inexpensive (read: Ikea) — cot because our beautiful child would sleep peacefully in it. All night. Since that turned out to be a complete fiction, we co-sleep part-time. Yep, still.
  • It wastes too much energy getting het up when she throws toddler tantrums — and it achieves nothing beyond two humans being stressed — so I step back and let her get it over with. Then I nurse her if she’s so worked up she can barely breathe.
  • She watches television and plays with my tablet. I never envisioned I’d be using mass media to babysit her as much as I have, and so soon.
  • Back to breastfeeding. I nurse her to sleep and when she wakes up in the night because I really cannot be arsed to sleep-train her. She is a stubborn little mite and screams like a banshee if she doesn’t get her ‘nainai’ at night.

The unifying factor in all this is I’m a lazy bum. The Beta Parent is about raising my child in a, er, relaxed manner that could be seen as hippy, AP, or over-indulgent. But it’s really about following my instincts after desperately — but intermittently — searching on the Internet for an answer to, “Why the hell does my child not act like the ones from the ads? Why didn’t my mother warn me before I got pregnant?!”

Just about the only thing I do, baby-wise, that requires more effort is using cloth nappies almost full-time. I consciously try to minimise the waste I create, so I do a bit more washing more often.

There’s also the question of cooking. Food preparation that involves actual work really isn’t my style, although I love eating. But I want my child to eat a healthy, balanced diet, so there will be recipes, too, for those who feel the same way I do.

(As for this opening post’s title, I have only managed to part-read one parenting book, The Baby Sleep Book — and that was before she was mobile. If I get any free time to myself at all, I’m either coding, blogging, or reading novels.)