I have been truly blessed and have 3 beautiful children. I have been pondering on the quality of my mothering over my 17 and a half year career.
With my first child, Eldest Beautiful Daughter I believe the quality was akin to Jenners or for the non Scots amongst you Harvey Nichols. When she was born I peered into every cot in the maternity ward with a smug glee as my baby was the most beautiful. She was THE most precious baby in the universe and nothing was too good for her. I actually made people wash their hands before they picked her up, even my in-laws, no, I can't understand why they got bent out of shape either ! I pureed and mashed her food, every morsel home made and as pure as I could get it, breastfed and gazed into her eyes whilst telling her how amazing she was, all her outfits were carefully co-ordinated and I lovingly laundered and ironed even bibs and babygro's, entertained her every waking moment whilst providing educational stimulus, read every book and childcare theory going and would not have left her for a peko second with anyone was not her father, her grandmother or who had less than an encyclopaedic knowlege of childcare and was prepared to worship and adore her as I did. I researched every nursery and every school and moved to ensure a place at the establishment that was rated the highest as I felt it best suited her (read my) needs. I wanted to ensure she got the best, the very best of everything.
With my second child, The Beautiful Son, born and presented to his Father on Fathers Day (I know, how efficient am I ? the only son) I feel the quality moved down to maybe a Marks and Spencer level, still good but not quite as exclusive. He was not the most beautiful baby in the ward but you were allowed to pick him up without the full hygiene screen. He survived on a mix of home cooked stuff and maybe Heinz stuff from jars (there was no organic baby food then)I breastfed him too but did so whilst watching the telly, talking on the phone or even reading a book. This baby had clean clothes but they weren't always ironed and he occasionally went to bed in a pink polka dot babygro that used to belong to his sister. He was entertained in between picking up his sister from playgroup and the hoovering, he also would enjoy watching a Teletubbies or Bob the Builder video at some point in the day. I would leave him with trusted friends to babysit and was quite happy to do so. I sent him to the playgroup that was local and friendly.
When the Beautiful Baby Daughter came along, a mere 16 months behind The Beautiful Son (making 3 children born in 4 years and 7 months) we came down to functional and economy mothering, Sainsbury's own label, so to speak. I didn't even bother going to hospital to have her, stayed at home, minimum fuss, she was born at 5pm on a Sunday and on the Monday morning I dropped eldest daughter off at nursery at 8.50am and was doing my shopping in Sainsbury's at 9am. You didn't even have to be visibly clean to pick this baby up. She survived on food scavenged from her siblings and was very partial to cheesy wotsists which gave her a peculiar orange glow, her clothes were clean but not ironed but always ended up covered in snot and chocolate and orange goo and my food and parenting snobbery ended abruptly. I breastfed her too but did so whilst loading the washing machine or making the tea, if I sat down to do it I'd fall asleep. She was entertained when her siblings could be bothered and had a Pingu video on on a loop. I would have let anyone at all babysit her, anyone. I sent her to the playgroup that took children at the youngest age.
I hope I have not damaged the younger 2 beacause I had so much less time, hopefully it was counterbalanced by me being more experienced and much less neurotic. The eldest is the most self assured, the middle the most laid back and academically the youngest is the brightest despite not having baby Mozart or flash cards or my omni present attention. They are all very different characters, they bicker semi professionally but they are mine, and the most important thing of all, we all love each other, warts and all.