Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.
My Son recently turned 9 months and that to me has been a huge milestone in itself. Not just because he’s now been on the outside longer than he has been on the inside, but that is how long it has taken me to make a full adjustment to Motherhood. Before my Son was born I had an idea of how I wanted my parenting journey to look like and that was to be an all-rounder as I call it. It was unrealistic in hindsight to think I could keep a house tidy, cook, shop, be a social butterfly and look after a baby. Not to mention launching a blog and a business within 6 months of eachother. This might not be true of all mother’s but for me it is, I had set myself on such an unrealistic journey that it took some of the fun of being a new mum away. There have been many things that have come up for me both emotionally and physically that I hadn’t been prepared for during the last 9 months. Things that sent me on a completely different journey that I hadn’t planned which really left me feeling less than an adequate parent.
I was so Lazor focused on the labour and looking after a tiny newborn that I hadn’t thought of anything past his first two months with us. I mean I did in the practical sense of having all the equipment but I didn’t when it came to me and managing myself through his milestones. People always say it gets easier but I think that’s all relevant really to what stage you’re at and how you cope with it. I’ve found each new phase has come with its own new challenge. Being a first-time mother and being sat constantly on this learning curve makes everything difficult. There are also lots of lovely new and amazing things too but I wouldn’t say it necessarily gets easier. And although I did do lots of research and joined NCT, nothing prepares you for those moments of darkness. Those moments when you can be surrounded in public by other parents and families but feel so incredibly lonely. The moments where someone makes a comment that their baby sleeps through the night and you’ve barely slept in 6 months. Or those moments when you lose your shit big time and then get consumed by the dreaded mum guilt. There aren’t any leaflets or handouts that prepare you for the enormity of these situations.
This time last year I was just entering the 3rd Trimester and had that lovely excited and nervous glow. The nursery was set up, my son’s clothes were all washed and put away. Even my hospital bag was packed and set aside in the nursery ready to go. I would take baths every single day and just spend time with my bump bonding. Daydreaming about all the wonderful things we were going to do during our year on mat leave together. I can look back and laugh at some of it now because it was a bit foolish. But when you don’t know, you don’t know right? But I wish there were things I knew this time last year so that I could have prepared myself a little better for those dark moments. Not everyone will go through the same experiences and even if they do they might not be affected in the same way. Everyone’s journey is so personal and intimate that I guess it’s hard to predict what yours will look like. But I think it helps to be realistic that it’s not all going to be cuddles, smiles and rainbows. Don’t get me wrong I love being a Mum, for me, it’s been an incredible journey of self-education and love and I would never trade it, but it isn’t easy.
I wish I had known how hard it was going to be at times. For someone who suffers from mental illness, I was prepared for PND, in the end, it wasn’t something that I experienced but I definitely suffered from intrusive thoughts. I didn’t know how to deal with these and that has been terrifying at times. There have been some days I’ve been too afraid to get in my car and drive in case we were in a horrific accident. No one told me my anxiety would get so bad that I wouldn’t leave the house for days. I would never have comprehended that I could scream at a baby in the depths of exhaustion. I wasn’t prepared that I was going to have to basically give up my life for some time. I genuinely thought I could do projects on the side as well as everyday life. I tried so hard to cling on to my life prior to giving birth. The more I was fighting it the harder it was getting. I kept assuming the older he gets it will get easier because that’s what I was repeatedly being told. But the more I couldn’t do the more incompetent I was feeling. I felt guilty if the house was a mess because my husband was at work grafting for us. If I couldn’t cook him a nutritional meal I felt terrible. But the reality is for me I can’t do it all. It took my husband sitting me down and telling me that it was completely OK to just look after our Son and do nothing else because it is such a huge job. Leaving a full-on, fast-paced corporate world to sit around and do what feels like nothing is such a huge mental adjustment. Of course it’s not nothing but it takes time for the mind to catch up with the reality of what is happening. I think I needed that validation and for someone to say it’s OK, you’re doing an amazing job because it really is hard. I didn’t know the reality of this journey was going to turn out to be so different to the fantasy. It’s not something I walked in to with my eyes wide shut but everyone has an idea of parenting that I’m sure turns out to be so different to what they envisaged during pregnancy. I guess for me I wish I had known how much I was going to have to give up and not let the guilt consume me. Because I think I would have been a lot more laid back and present during the first half of my Son’s year. But it is something I know now and can take with me if we are lucky enough to bring another life into the world.
I must say that now I have completely let go of my prior self and stopped putting unrealistic expectations on myself, life is so much more fun. This IS me being mummy now. The days are all focussed on my boy and making sure he is getting enough enjoyment from discovering and exploring life without trying to squeeze my own stressful schedule in. He won’t be a baby for very long and it’s my role to make sure he is having the best possible time he can (within reason). I’ve put time aside for a couple of projects I’m working on with no expectations or timelines attached and it feels really good. In a way, I’m reliving my own childhood with him and that’s definitely something I didn’t think I would be doing this time last year. As much as the road to get here has been hard and has been a major adjustment, it has also been filled with a tremendous amount of love. A year ago I didn’t know I could love anyone as much as I love my Son. They say a Mother’s love is fierce, I can completely relate to that now. And even through the sleep deprivation and tears, I have definitely fallen in love all over again with my husband. Having his support has been pivotal, I think I would be still struggling if it wasn’t for him being the amazing man that he is.
At 9 months I am proud of myself for being a woman who wanted to have it “all” but couldn’t quite make it because that’s life and it’s real. I am proud I have been able to accept my reality and embrace the changes. And I am proud that I can show my Son that my love for him is greater than anything I could have ever possibly imagined. Changes are as good as a holiday they say, so I’ll be vacaying a little longer.