I’m going to be honest with you….
The early days of parenthood are tough. They don’t resemble the fluffy fantasy sometimes represented in films or on TV. I always laugh when I see that ad about the parents who are surprised when the mother has triplets. They smile joyfully, the mother looks immaculate instead of bedraggled and well sorry if I had been surprised with triplets I probably would have run away!
The thing is becoming a parent is a big change and just like every big change there comes a period of adjustment; you have to adjust to a new normal. Nobody really explains this. Sure they talk about the tiredness, the late nights, the mess of your previously clean house but nobody really tells you what a massive shock to the system it all is! Trust me everybody has secretly thought about getting in the car and driving away. It’s completely normal to think ‘what have I done!’ These thoughts don’t make you a bad mother, they make you human.
Every change, even good, exciting, planned changes require some getting used to. And this change is so much bigger than starting a new job or moving house. There is a whole other life in the world relying entirely on you. That’s big. That’s life-changing. It’s okay to feel a bit freaked out about it all.
You may find yourself thinking nostalgically about your pre-parent carefree days. You may long to have a lie-in or spend hours watching Netflix without hearing a demanding cry. It’s okay to mourn what once was. A phase of life has passed, a new one has begun. I spent my early weeks being a mummy as a giant ball of anxiety. My appetite even deserted me – which if you knew me is really saying something! What really kept me going was my own mother. She told me it’s alright to feel entirely all over the place. Your hormones are out of whack, you are beyond tired and now you have this little baby to care for. It’s alright to feel lost rather than overjoyed.
It’s good to share your feelings and thoughts with someone non-judgemental and compassionate. If you can’t find that person in real life, or find it hard to talk about it face-to-face, there are lots of online resources now. You don’t have to go through it alone.
We read a a lot about how mothers immediately fall in love with their babies. They feel blessed. They feel deliriously happy. It’s the best day of their lives. For some this may well be true. But it’s not true for everyone and guess what? That’s okay. You might feel scared of the baby more than anything else especially if you have no experience with them. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way. Allow yourself to feel your own feelings and know you are not alone.
In my very early days of motherhood I received a lovely message from a former colleague to congratulate me on becoming a mummy. But she did so much more than this and she probably doesn’t even realise the impact her message had on me. She told me that yes it will be tough, yes there will be days when you cry, yes you will feel weird and out of sync and not yourself. But…you will dance again, she told me, you will go out and you will have fun and it won’t always feel so hard. Basically she was completely honest with me and I cried when I read her words. I wasn’t the only one to feel all at sea. I wasn’t the only mama who had struggled.
So I am passing that same message on to you from the other side. To all new mamas and mamas-to-be; you will be okay. You will laugh again with your friends. You will go to the cinema and lose yourself completely in a good film. You will eat a meal without burning the roof of your mouth from speed-eating. You will be okay.
I won’t tell you it will be exactly the same or that things will be sunshine and roses all the time. Life isn’t like that anyway. We all have our ups and downs. So yes there will be blue days. But every now and then you will catch yourself in a moment thinking; that’s my baby, look at what I did and look how well I am doing. You have got this!