Ahh…motherhood, one of the toughest journeys I have EVER embarked on- no lie. Once we found out we were expecting, I bought books, watched television shows, googled and even took a prenatal class, yet even after all that there were aspects that were never discussed. As open and honest women are about motherhood and willing to share their birth stories, we seem to gloss over the uncomfortable bits, maybe for fear of putting people off or due to the gruesome nature- because let’s be honest, it’s not for the fainthearted. I found women look back with such rose tinted glassed (I’m not knocking that), but there were aspects of motherhood, that I legit would of appreciated the heads up on…mostly because I’m a preparer. Here’s the list if things I would of appreciated knowing BEFOREHAND.
1- True Love: You hear about it and you sometimes read about it, but JUST the amount and depth of love that I could have for another human being, was completely overwhelming to me. When I was pregnant, as each month and milestone goes by you know that you love the human inside you, but there is something so amazing about when you first lay your eyes on your little bundle. The sense of responsibility and protectiveness I felt the instant she was in my arms was something I hadn’t fully prepared for, I wrote previously, Letter To My Daughter, letting my daughter know just how much she changed me and just how suddenly my heart soared. When she was born, I couldn’t sleep, I just kept staring at her…alive…real. It really was like a dream.
2- Getting in Touch With My Inner Yogi: The amount of times I have taken deep, deep DEEP breaths while waiting for Neveah to do something, or listening to an excuse she’s concocted or wait it out while she’s throwing a fit. I never quite grasped just how one I needed to become one with meditation and breathing exercises. The majority of my time is spent giving ultimatums: “Do this or you’ll lose this”, “do this or you’ll have a time out”, “can you please do this?”,”Why aren’t you doing this?” Not only did I realise that I needed to alter my expectations somewhat, but I also realised quite quickly that in the instances where I was flustered and emotional, I tended to get the worse reactions from her. I needed to alter my response, in order to get a much calmer child or a much more responsive child. Of course it didn’t always work right away, but I found it at least helped me and meant that I didn’t have such an emotional reaction to meltdowns, especially public ones. What I never prepared for, was the replies I would receive and in their variety. I spend a lot of my time wondering why I ever thought to teach her to speak…insert continuous eye rolls. I was even told “Mom, don’t cry over spilt milk” or “Ahh, Mom, can you please be patient and wait, I’m very busy”. Back to the link where I need to brush up on my patience and inner chuckle.
3- Losing “Me” Time: I get it, the majority of the articles I’ve read in regards to this, take it lightly, but I have to admit that this was one of the issues I struggled with and sometimes still struggle with. I’m a pretty independent person, I don’t hate PDA (ok- I’m into my own space), so after having Neveah and seeing the LEVEL of attachment she has to me, I sometimes felt overwhelmed. As she’s grown, it has waned a little bit, but since our recent cross-continental move, we have been spending 24/7 of our time together so her attachment has really increased. She wants me to do everything with her, she only wants me to play with her, only wants me to put her to bed, only wants me, me, me…I’m not egotistical enough to love the attention. Sometimes, I find myself begging for just 5 minutes alone, but my mom put it into perspective for me. She said,
4- Giving Up Your Body: Though I do mean in the literal sense as you basically housed a human for 10 months, I mean in the sense of just how little control you have when it comes to how your body will grow, stretch and eventually eject said human. The level of control you have is at a very low- no matter the amount of pills and creams and tips and old wives tales passed on, at the end of the day- your body will find a way to do the very opposite. For me, it was a moment, when I had to begin to try to understand the meaning of “letting go”, trust me, I’m still exploring how to fully do it. From having a birth plan and then having the throw it out the window at the 3cm mark, to having endless numbers of people walking in and out of a room, while your legs are stirruped up or just being over ruled by a forceful and abrupt Dr- to being told that they have performed an episiotomy without giving you the time to think about it. Pregnancy is the epitome of giving up all control of what happens to your body. I wish someone had told me about the recovery my body would go through, I wish someone had told me that I would feel like my intestines were hanging out of my crotch. I wish someone had told me that after an episiotomy, the recovery was no joke. I never told anyone this, but I spent the time in the bathroom shaking and crying- I felt so outside of my body, which was something I wasn’t prepared for. For someone who was never hospitalized until I gave birth, I wasn’t prepared for the amount of bleeding I was to face in the aftermath of giving birth. Looking down at my non existent abs and greeted by my overly present stretch marks, it hits me just how much work my body had to go through to fully form the happy and healthy child I see today. It does really make the sacrifice worth it, but we (I including) should appreciate our bodies more; give it more credit, because at the end of the day- it’s performing hundreds of jobs we never notice until there is a problem.
5- Seeing Myself: Anyone who knows me and who has had the pleasure of being entrusted into Neveah’s inner circle, will see that we are basically the same person. #yikes! She is cheeky, talkative, has to have the last word, vivacious, full of energy, full of life and passionate. Very. Once I became a mother, the gravity of the fact that I had a blank slate in front of me and that my decisions, good or bad, would be shaping another human life, because somewhat daunting. Whether it was my age or the place I was in my life, I looked at this as a chance to “work on” and “reinvent” myself. I saw myself in her so much that I could only try to impart some of the knowledge I’d learnt up till now to hopefully avoid her making the same mistakes I did. Problem is- kids never listen anyways, but it was and is a lovely pipe dream to fill my millennial heart.
6- Emotional: I really do wish someone had let me know that I would have a one way ticket to Emotionalville, because ever since having Neveah all I seem to do is cry over some of the most inane things. I wish I was over exaggerating, but I really am not. A friend showed me a video of her daughter singing and I promise you- I ended up watching the video bawling my eyes out- I have no idea why it makes me so teary! Even watching Neveah as she sleeps, swells my heart…yes, I’m a sad person. I don’t know if it’s the hormones, but I know that I’ll never get through dramas without practically emptying a Kleenex box #sorrynotsorry. To be honest, this was something that took some getting used to, as I’m usually someone who never really show raw emotions, especially in the form of tears; it’s been 4 years and it doesn’t seem to be going away.
7- You Don’t Need That Much Stuff: You would think this would be fairly obvious based on the fact that we’re alive and well and our parents didn’t have half the number of gizmos they try and guilt trip first time moms into these days. Trust me, I was one of them, I felt like I wasn’t giving Neveah the best I could if I didn’t buy a baby monitor or if I didn’t have the Rolls Royce of strollers or if I didn’t dress her like a doll or a designer baby. But at the end of the day, a baby needs love, comfort and yes clothing, food and the like- but they won’t be a better baby if you have a temperature controlled bedding and they won’t cry or poop less if they’re wrapped up in luxury clothing. I wish I had listened to the people who told me not to buy, buy, buy so much, because the majority of it sat on a shelf collecting dust. I now know why mother’s are always so eager to give their old baby items away! At the end of the day, I know that it comes with good intentions, we all want the best for our kids, and we don’t want them to lack things we possibly lacked as children. But at the end of the day, this is a projection from ourselves, having the latest devices will not show your kids love, it won’t kiss their bobos. They need us far more than they need “stuff”.
8- There’s No Such Thing As Perfect: I say this in earnest, scrolling through Instagram feeds and “witnessing” these perfectly coiffed moms, with a full face of make-up and ever so fashionable, I would look down at my sweats and milk stained tees and wonder, “Why can’t I be as put together as these moms?” The absolute truth is that I can’t even remember the 1st 3-4 days after Neveah was born, it’s literally a blur; if you came to visit me, apologies because if it wasn’t for photos, I wouldn’t of known it happened. I didn’t get back to feeling like my myself in my body for at least a year after she was born. So the very thought of getting dolled up with hair and make-up, was one of the farthest things from my mind. I fully recognise that every one feels differently after giving birth, some bounce back like nothing happened and for others it’s a much longer and slower process-what’s “right” for you, may not be “right” for someone else. We’re all on a journey, we don’t get extra points for how easy it was for us to get out of bed that morning. I am in no way knocking the moms who are Instagram ready, trust me, I’m somewhat about that life now that I am off work. It’s of course easier said than done to not compare yourself, but what I learned for myself is that you gain no prizes for knocking down another mother, because you never know what their journey is- they may also feel like they’re not are doing their best- simply put, don’t judge.
9- Redefine Femininity: It wasn’t until I got pregnant that I was really hit by the magnitude of “pink” for girls and “blue” for boys when it came to practically everything you wanted to buy. It is a very hard battle to fight as literally everything marketed for females is glittery, shiny, frilly, pink and ultimately doesn’t challenge the female mind in any way. It really makes it seem like the female body is all about being adorned, jewelled and to be viewed, where as for boys it’s about science, discovery and ambition. I wish I knew the uphill battle I would have to keep reaffirming to Neveah that the pinnacle of being female isn’t just to get married, have children and live happily ever after. I want to instill curiosity, wonder, adventure and aspiration in her- I don’t want her to think that she can’t do something simply because she’s a girl.
10- Worry Wart: I wish someone had told me that the safest place for your baby is literally in your belly, once they come out. It’s not to say that when they’re in your tummy, you do not worry, but at this stage there isn’t much you can do about it. Once they’re out, it’s all up to you- their sleeping pattern, in your bed, in a cot or in a crib, breastfeeding or bottle. Helicopter parent or hippy dippy- it’s literally all up in the air- but it doesn’t stop the worrying and the wondering if you’re doing it all right? You swap stories with other moms and wonder if you’ve missed something or your child is on the same track as theirs. Even I thought the comparisons and feelings of inadequacies would subside once she entered the toddler stage, but I was hit by the realization that after 2 1/2 years old, I was supposed to have taken her to a dentist. Cringe; imagine my relief when she got the all clear! Needless to say, there is always something to worry about, development, milestones and everything in between, she’s about to begin school in a couple months, so now the spotlight will be on an even larger scale! Despite all of the worry, it’s safe to say, the fact that I’m even worrying at all makes me at least a somewhat decent parent. Right?!
What were some of the biggest lessons you learnt as a mother? If you have more than one, did it change from child to child? We’d love to take notes!