Recently, a very good friend of mine rang to tell me she is pregnant. I was delighted, of course, and couldn’t wait to get discussing all the gory details of being a mother! Before I could begin, however, she complained that all her colleagues were telling her horror stories, not only about labour and birth but sleepless nights, sh***y nappies and losing the ability to pee without an audience. I immediately shut down my own similar tirade! Why do we have this need to terrify future mammies?
No sooner do you share the good news that you are pregnant than the tales begin. I vividly remember complaining about a tiny stain on my top one day. A friend of mine laughed and said ‘ah soon you will be caked in milk and all sorts of goo.’ To a neat-o-phobe like me, this was the stuff of nightmares. I mean I couldn’t even go out in public if there was so much as a tiny spot on my clothes and now I was told that I’d be permanently covered in s***?? This, however, was small bananas to the tales of labour and birth that were piled on me, you would be forgiven for thinking we were discussing horror movies on our lunch break. A younger colleague went white and threw me a sympathetic look while very probably making a mental note to visit the Family Planning Clinic.
I promised myself I would never do the same thing to a mama-to-be but, like so many promises I made before motherhood snatched me, this was forgotten the minute the opportunity arose. Yay, now I can be the ‘experienced’ mother shelling out advice in the form of anecdotes!
And the thing is even while we are sharing hair-raising tales of toddlers awake until midnight and babies who never stop crying, we are usually doing it all with a smirk so that our unsuspecting audience isn’t quite sure whether to laugh or cry. Small wonder then that new motherhood is such a shock for many new mothers. Why didn’t you warn me they yell! We did try to warn you we yell back! But we didn’t, not really. We hid the truth behind so many ‘funny’ tales and witty comments that you could have been forgiven for not believing us.
We aren’t really honest about the realities of new motherhood instead we rehash funny birth stories (the gorier the better) or make light of the fact we haven’t slept since the night before we had our first child (and we barely slept then)? In truth, we are probably trying to be as honest as we can be without scaring the poor buggers. They are going to have a baby, after all, no sense completely taking the wind from their sails. Let them enjoy their pregnancies. But should we better prepare them for the shock? Or is it best to keep shut, say nothing and be there when the s*** does hit the fan? I still haven’t figured it out yet. I do know, however, that despite the hardships, despite the days when I get down on my knees and pray for bedtime and despite the endless tantrums, I wouldn’t trade it all for my old life and that is the truth.