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“Motherhood doesn’t come with a manual,” the midwife said with the best intentions, I’m sure.
“You learn on the job,” was her passing comment as she swiftly pulled back the curtain and went on her rounds.
I was sitting bolt upright on a crispy, stale hospital bed with a half glass of tepid tap water on the table, a knawed bunch of grapes, and my newborn baby in my lap, asleep.
What I wish someone would have told me
Luckily, I had a window next to me looking over the car park – I could see our car, driven by my husband, in a queue behind about 20 others, waiting for a space.
I was wearing leggings and a semi-fitted top. I felt good for being able to squeeze into it such a short time after giving birth.
I’d not had a wink of sleep for 4 days after extended labor, mind you.
Yet I still put on a front.
I popped on a touch of eye shadow and blusher to make myself feel more alive. More like me. To be seen to be doing well, even though I felt otherwise.
And 3 years on – knee-deep in motherhood with two little offspring. This is what I wish someone had told me…
Motherhood brings out your inner b*tch
I’m not the only mother who believed that having kids would ‘fix’ me. Right?!
I’d traveled the world, seen the sights, fallen in love several times, owned a house, and had a great career. Yet there was to be more, I hoped!
Kids would top it off, indeed. Kids are the answer! The perfect life as seen by societal standards.
Ha ha, how bloody wrong could I be?
Parenting brings out every deep, hidden element of you. Things that didn’t even come up before having kids. Stuff you never knew existed.
All your deepest fears, doubts, your conditioning, your beliefs, oh my god, everything.
I wish someone would have told me this.
It doesn’t happen straight away, either.
There is that blissful newborn phase – thank goodness for hormones I say. The shock comes maybe a few months, even years, into being a parent.
So what do I wish someone had told me before having kids?
That motherhood brings up all your shit and then some.
Really, it does.
And having experienced this for a glorious three years since I became a mama, I’m aware I’ve got a long road ahead of me.
Which leads me onto the next topic…
Motherhood makes you stronger
Saying all that – you get to a point where you’re sick and tired of your inner b*tch constantly berating you for all the things you do wrong as a mother.
You eventually tire of being so hard on yourself.
You start to take notes. To ignore the inner voice and move on. To learn rather than repeat.
In doing so, you become stronger.
You no longer get swayed by other people’s opinions for one thing!
You take things on yourself. Realising that your kids are your responsibility so you’d better step up and get on with it as best you can.
Oh, and you do so without sacrificing your own well-being and contentment (most of the time anyhow.)
That’s why motherhood makes you stronger, if you ask me.
Motherhood makes you grateful
Even in the hardest challenges that mothers face – the little smiles and giggles at the end of the day are so worth it.
Children are just gorgeous, well and truly.
Exhausting, yes. Exasperating, indeed.
But with that comes the gratitude you feel for having them in your life.
They are the best teachers by far, and for this, we are grateful.
Every challenge is an opportunity to grow and try something new.
I’m forever dipping into the ‘gentle parenting’ practices to understand how on earth I can talk to my near 4-year-old?
He gets me thinking (and deep breathing) in the same second.
Yet I’m eternally grateful for both of my beautiful children, who allow me to be a better mama to them each and every day.
Even when I feel like a failure – they remind me that I’m not.
Motherhood means all the guilt
The never-ending mom guilt gets me every damn day. Whether I raise my voice or bite my lip, I still feel it.
Yet I’ve developed compassion for myself for feeling so guilty. Even if I’ve been that dreamy perfect parent who’s kids behave like models while I whip them around the supermarket – I still feel guilty.
What is this guilt?
I too have been wondering where it comes from.
And I’ve concluded that, it’s either a societal thing which means I can ignore it, or it’s inherited from previous generations.
So what I do, is when I feel the guilt (and the good mamas do feel it, believe me!) I question it. Is it real? Is it true? And do I need to feel like this right now?
And the answer is usually no.
So I literally shrug my shoulders, shake my arms and get on with my day. The guilt lingers but eventually dies off.
I recommend questioning the guilt. What even is it? Where does it come from? And do you really need that shit in your life?
Motherhood makes you kinder
Although there are times when it doesn’t – y’know, wiping up spills for the umpteenth time does take its toll on your nervous system.
But generally, you become kinder and more compassionate when you have kids.
For one thing, you stop thinking about yourself only, and their little needs become your main focus, and rightly so.
The days are long, but the years are short, as the saying goes.
And evenings do whizz round, which is when tired eyes fall (eventually) asleep, and you, mama, at last get to have a bath and read a nice book.
Which is all I’ve got to say. That right there is my life right now! And it’s the most beautiful thing I can possibly imagine.
If you loved reading this post, be sure to check out my other posts and follow along for updates on my upcoming book, titled ‘How to Soften into Motherhood in a Hardened World’ out January 2023.