Motherhood – it’s all you ever wanted, but nothing like you imagined it would be.
Nothing can prepare you for becoming a parent. The moment that baby is placed in your arms you’ll change forever. There are books, apps, gadgets and gizmos out there for everything these days, but there is nothing that can equip you for what it does to you mentally. Becoming a Mum is one of the most crazy, exciting, beautiful and emotional things you will ever go through. But, it is equally tough, scary, overwhelming and lonely all at the same time.
It’s HARD being a mother. Your brain never stops. You worry about things that aren’t even ‘things’ yet. In the same day you can go from feeling completely blessed and content to feeling anxious and alone. We live in a world where social media posts fool us in to believing that others are living the perfect dream life – the perfect husband, the perfect kids, the perfect home, the perfect car, the perfect dog…you get my drift, and you feel like you’re winning if you manage to actually get washed, dressed and brush your hair before you leave the house in the morning. You spend your days cooking, cleaning, ironing, driving and it’s like everyone needs you but nobody sees you.
There’s times where you’ll feel like you have all your shit completely together and others you’ll wonder how the hell you were even allowed to be a parent! Seriously, who would put you in charge of someone’s life!?
I want to tell you something I wish someone told me. “You are not alone”. Every Mum feels the same. Don’t let the bullshit posts on social media fool you, even those that look like they have it all feel the same. Just because people have a lot of ‘friends’ or get a lot of ‘likes’ it doesn’t mean that they are not lonely. You can be surrounded by friends and family and still feel alone and like nobody notices you.
And do you know the worst bit about it? The guilt. We feel guilty for feeling sad or lonely, then the guilt makes us feel worse. We should be happy all of the time, shouldn’t we? (See my post on dealing with Mummy guilt here)
Now I’m not saying this is what it’s like all the time. Of course you love your child and of course there are times you’ll be so content you’ll wonder what you were even upset about in the first place (mentally bashing yourself again with guilt – it’s a vicious cycle). It will vary for everyone. Some will only feel this way now and again whereas others will feel it more often, or it will come and go. There is no ‘normal’ for this, it’s just the way things are. What we need to do is learn to accept it. It’s okay to not be okay all of the time. You’re allowed to feel overwhelmed and like you don’t have a fucking clue what you’re doing – why should you? You’ve never done it before! Nobody’s ever taught you how to deal with a screaming toddler while functioning on 3 hours of sleep. Allow yourself to have that mental break. You’re not being ungrateful or selfish, you’re just trying to deal with things the best you can and you’re doing a better job than you think!
Be kind to yourself. Appreciate what you’re doing and the small feats., even when you feel like you’re drowning. Remind yourself of how far you’ve came and that this is just a small bump on a very windy and rocky road.
Men, if you’re reading this just tell her she’s doing a good job. Take a second out of your day now and again to say ‘Thank you’. Let her know you see her and value her. It doesn’t need to be a big romantic gesture or soppy facebook post. Just give her a kiss on the head and say ‘thanks for dinner tonight’. Trust me, it will go a lot farther than any lavish gift or bunch of flowers will (though they will be gratefully accepted and incur brownie points).
Be kinder to other Mums. We’re all in this together. Sometimes all you need is for someone to reach out to you and see you. Nobody will understand how you’re feeling like another Mother will, trust me. Wether you’ve plucked up the courage to go to softplay on your own because your own friends have left you out of their gatherings and all it takes is a friendly ‘hello’ from another parent and small chit chat about babies, or if your toddler is having a meltdown in the middle of the supermarket and another Mum give you that look that says ‘I feel ya’, it all makes a difference. In fact, it makes the world of a difference knowing that someone is there for you in that little second.
Most of all be kind to yourself. It’s okay to cry or to feel like you’re losing it for no reason. I hereby grant you permission to lose your shit and feel okay about it. The important thing is that you don’t dwell on it. Learn to love yourself and not seek the approval of others in order to validate your existence. The only person that matters is you and that little life you’re bringing up. You might not be perfect, but you’re doing the best you can and that’s what matters.