kids

Why being asked, "Are you a first time mum?" is actually a compliment.

It always happened when I was feeling worried, and being over-protective. Someone would ask, “Are you a first-time mum?” and I’d immediately feel embarrassed and defensive.

It happened when I took my baby daughter to the hospital, when she had a common viral rash, yet I was convinced it was meningococcal.

Sometimes it happened if I was doing something weird, like bringing three huge bags of snacks, nappies, toys and everything else for a quick park visit, or taking hundreds of photos of my daughter doing the simplest thing.

first time mums
"Becoming a mum was the steepest learning curve of my life." (Image: Supplied)

The question, “Are you a first-time mum?” often sounded patronising and judgemental, and was usually followed with unwanted advice on how to be a better mother.

Since we added a baby boy to our family last year, I’m perhaps even more qualified to say this:

First-time mums are awesome. They are! Many of my new friends from mothers group are first-time mums, and they are often my inspiration. This is why.

They are in awe of their babies.

It’s a beautiful sight to see a first-time mum with her new baby. Whether she’s looking on with love, or feeling exhausted and frustrated, it’s all a brand-new experience that will leave her completely changed. I’m reminded to treasure every moment with my son, when I see the way new mothers experience every move, sound and change in their children.

They get out, and seek adventures.

I am very lazy these days, and could stay home all week. Going out with a toddler and a baby seems too difficult. But I am tempted out of the house when I hear of my friends discovering library story time, or a new park for the first time. I am reminded of all the things my children can experience – and usually for free – so I get off my butt and get out there.

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They take everything very seriously.

When I was a first-time mum, I often felt sick with worry. I was concerned about everything to do with my daughter: motor skills, verbal skills, appetite, illnesses, you name it, I was anxious out about it.

Now that I have two children and I’m working part-time, my worries are more spread out. Sometimes I will miss or not notice something my son is going through, and I’ll actually look back with fondness upon those nervous, early days with my daughter. That worry has a purpose: to keep my children safe and healthy.

You’re not a freak if you’re Googling baby milestones or asking frantic questions. It shows you care.

But they also have serious fun.

Here’s some strange advice from ‘What to Expect The First Year’, which is the sequel to the loved-and-loathed pregnancy tome, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’. It’s about feeding your baby solids.

“Before even attempting to bring spoon to mouth, put a dab of the food on the table or high chair tray and give baby a chance to examine it, squish it, mash it, rub it, and maybe even taste it.”

"I am tempted out of the house when I hear of my new mum friends discovering library story time, or a new park for the first time." (Image: Supplied)

As a first time mum, I completely took this advice on board and let my daughter play with her food and make a giant mess. She had a blast. Did it help her to be a better eater? No, it just meant that she got into the habit of playing with her food. So, when it came time for my son to start solids, it was a spoon-only affair, thank you very much.

But here’s the thing: I WANT to start letting my son get messy with food, paint, dirt, sand and the whole thing. I’m so concerned these days with future messes I’ll have to clean up, that I haven’t planned for my son to have fun, chaotic and sticky times. And now, I feel that he needs to have those sensory experiences. Maybe I could get wild and let him eat spaghetti bolognese with his hands?

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They take all the photos.

No-one is more dedicated to taking week-to-week (or sometimes, day-to-day) photos of their children than a first-time parent. I should know; in my daughter’s first few months of life, I think I took ten thousand photos. I wish that was an exaggeration.

A post shared by Carla Gee (@bycarlagee) on

When a new mum posts a dozen photos of her baby on social media, I’m reminded to pick up my camera and take photos of my kids. I’m usually either tired, wiping stuff off the floor or cooking, so I’m not as snap-happy as I used to be. But that’s no excuse. Click click! I want to remember all of the crazy, fleeting moments of my young family.

Becoming a mum was the steepest learning curve of my life. And that means that the lessons I learnt as a first-time mum are extra relevant now to my growing family. Here’s to first-time mums – for learning and doing everything they can for their children, and putting up with silly questions at the same time.

Carla Gee is a Sydney writer, illustrator and podcaster. Find her on Instagram and Facebook.

Tell us: what makes first-time mums awesome? Or what questions do you hate hearing, as a parent?

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