Last week, I took my three year old, Kurtis, to his first swimming lesson. Even though he is my third, I was still excited. As I arrived, somewhat late (very little changes, even when you’re on your third baby!) and when we approached the side of the pool ready to get in, the lesson had started. There was one child in the water, sobbing, and crying for his mummy, who watched anxiously from the side. He kept trying to wriggle out of the instructor’s arms, looking over at mum, pleading and desperate.
Why Love Matters is a book which summarises the science beautifully. But, and it is a big but, all advice can be interpreted as a “should”. “Shoulds” put pressure on us, make us feel like others know better than us, and introduces the possibility of failure. There is very little out there to tell a mum to listen to her heart, her instinct, and her baby (we need a new version of Dr Spock). To love to love, for love’s sake. Not for science’s sake, or even baby’s sake. If you do it for baby’s sake, you forget to give yourself a break, and to realise that sometimes you just need a cup of tea on your own, and that is okay. If you do it because your heart tells you to, you do it genuinely, and, by the strangest coincidence, that is when your baby gets the most from it too.