Two lines huh? That decision to throw away your pill packet was a good move, a GREAT move. But brace yourself. Seriously, strap in like a fighter pilot, armor up like a 12th Century knight and put your head between your knees like you’re starring on Airport Disasters. It’s going to get a tad bumpy. #MumLife
Now, hold up mumma-to-be. Before you rush out buying gorgeous little jumpsuits and super cute shoes there are some things I want you to know. Life doesn’t always go to plan, this is something you’ll need to wrap your idealistic little head around if you want to traverse this motherhood path and remain sane.
These are three things I want you to know about the mum gig and about motherhood. I know I sound a little preachy. That’s what happens when you become a mum. You start giving lectures like nobody’s business. You probably won’t listen (put down your iPad and look me in the eyes girl), but if you can take these three things onboard, it’ll save you a lot of pain.
Before we begin, take a nap. I mean it. Right now. For the love of all things bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, take that gorgeous pre-baby body and tuck it up in bed. Hear that? That’s the sound of no-one wanting a piece of you. It’s conducive to sleep. Enjoy. While you’re at it, take off your bra. Not much is different, right? Enjoy that too.
Three things Pre-Baby-Me should know about mum life:
1. You are going to know joy like you can’t imagine.
This is not an I’ve-just-won-the-lotto or invented-a-calorie-free-crème-brulee kind of thrill. Being a mum is an ethereal delight. Picture yourself on a blanket on a clear night. There’s a myriad of stars, the soothing warmth of a campfire and the sound of crashing waves in the distance. Soul satisfying. Like you’ve eaten just the right amount of pasta (no mean feat for a boscaiola aficionado like yourself). This scene is bland compared to what’s to come, I promise.
The first time you clutch their incy-wincy body? Watching their tiny newborn mouth smile while they sleep? Being told I-wuv-you-more-than-Skye-from-Paw-Patrol? Wrapping them in your arms after their first day of school? Witnessing them pronounce two syllables in a microphone at assembly? These fleeting moments are about to become the absolute highlights of your #mumlife.
Oh Pre-Baby-Me, I know what you’re thinking and I know you are rolling your eyes. You don’t want all this Hallmarky-schmaltz. You want to climb mountains and build empires. To see the beauty and create masterpieces. I promise you will. But it won’t look exactly like your Pre-Baby-Brain (with all its cute idealism and well-rested goal setting) envisages.
Motherhood is an absolute privilege and every other cliché that won’t have full meaning until you experience it. You are in for great joy, it is absolutely worth the sacrifice. Remember that when it gets hard.
2. It will get hard (and weird). Everything will be okay.
There will come a day when you squeeze your toddler’s tubby little thigh and tell her she’s so adorable you could eat her. Cannibalistic threats aside, something happens to your brain when you give birth, and it takes a little getting used to.
There will be some hormonal havoc. You may feel a little off your game in the first few months. Or you might feel perfectly fine. Either is totally normal. Crying because you made a life, but now you are no longer making a life? Normal. Crying because you don’t want to look after said Life every second of the day? Normal. Crying about anything to do with breastfeeding? Normal. These are the joys of motherhood.
One of the little torments of motherhood is questioning yourself. There isn’t a mother on the planet who hasn’t contemplated: Am I a bad mum? Have I got what it takes? Why isn’t this easier? For us, it began on the hazy hell that is Day 3.
I remember standing on a second story balcony at the hospital and thinking that if I dropped my beautiful newborn over the edge of the railing she would be dead. When I bathed her that night, an image of her sweet face going under the water flashed through my hormone-infected head. When I picked up a steak knife to eat my dinner as she slept sweetly in her bassinet nearby, I thought about how sharp it was and how fragile she was.
Scared? I was terrified. And most definitely the worst mum on the planet.
I loved this tiny tike so much it made me feel literally crazy for a few days. I would have stepped in front of a bus, swallowed an acre of kale, voted for Donald Trump, stayed awake for two whole years (okay I did that one) if it aided her in any way. And here I was having irrational thoughts about her death at my hands.
On Day 5 I blurted it all out to a midwife who then had a large amount of extra paperwork to do. Best thing I could have done. These intrusive thoughts and other intense feelings are not fun, but they are normal. No-one talks about them. Think of them as extreme love, dressed up in a little crazy, and tell them to buzz off. You are not going to turn into a monster, it’s just your brain misfiring.
By Day 10 my head returned to normal. I was lucky, but for some, the torture lasts longer.
What I’m trying to say with this scary little object lesson, is that adjusting to motherhood comes with a few curve balls. And then once you’ve adjusted, you’ll get thrown a few more curve balls. And this sequence of events will continue for as long as you both shall live. The trick is, finding people who will support you through the rollercoaster and who will reassure you that your crazy is indeed normal.
3. Seek support. There’s no time for pride in motherhood
Look I know you think you’re a hot-shot career girl who’s got it goin’ on right now. But if you go down this motherhood path, you’re going to find yourself knee-deep in some serious sh@t (literally, your cherubs are going to poop All. The. Time.) You will need a support crew.
Find a tribe. Join a freakin’ mum’s group. Sell your soul to a playgroup. I know it sounds totally not your style. But it is essential for survival.
Asking for help is going to be hard at first. I know you are Miss Independent who needs-no-one. But there will come a time when you hit the wall and have no other choice but to let others in and be vulnerable in your need. Do it sooner rather than later. There is no shame in asking for help, only the opportunity for a connectedness born of desperation but sustained by love and friendship.
The key to finding this tribe is simply to show up. And keep showing up, even when you’d rather stay in bed. And I don’t mean show up with your perfectly packed Gucci nappy bag and fake smile. I mean show up ready to be real with people, struggles, brokenness and all.
If you don’t find the right people at first, keep trying. You don’t want to do this gig alone.
I feel protective just thinking about you Pre-Baby-Me. There are some trials to come. But I’m excited for you too. You are going to rock this. And suck at this. And you are going to be a better person for it. You’ll have your doubts along the way, but one day you’ll sit back and look at your little people and think, actually, we’re doing okay.
Now, get back to that nap.
You as a mother of four. (Insane right?)
To help you navigate parenthood might we also suggest you don’t turn into a Mrs Judgy Pants but do clue up on a few positive things to say to your kids (when really you want to say the opposite). These little tricks will go some way to helping you survive #MumLife.