Being a mother is wonderful. There are no ‘buts’ or ‘excepts’; this is the absolute, unadulterated truth. That’s not to say there aren’t their fair share of hardships or moments of complete and utter chaos entwined with heart aching despair along the way.
Like anything in life, you have to take the proverbial rough with the smooth. Without the so-called ‘downs’ or ‘lows’, we wouldn’t be able to fully experience the ‘ups’ and the ‘highs’. For something to be wonderful, it does not have to be perfect. I believe this is part of what makes the experience of parenting so inherently special.
Akin to the ‘Yin and Yang’ philosophy, motherhood is the perfect example of a balancing act. On one hand, you’re carrying (literally) a little bundle of joy and on the other, you’re carrying (metaphorically), what feels like, the weight of the world — while always remaining in control despite how helpless you can often feel.
Parenthood is rife with preconceptions. We conjure up blissful images of playful cuddles and peaceful strolls without so much as conceiving (excuse the pun) anything remotely negative. This is, of course, ideal. Let’s face it; if we knew about the harsh realities beforehand, the birth rate would quite frankly plummet.
It might seem oxymoronic to say that, as a parent, you are swept off your feet and, at the same time, mind-numbingly bored. Similarly, while you are literally never alone, you can somehow feel more isolated than ever. There is, however, a grave tendency to conceal these less than glowing feelings. We feel guilty to even imply that we might not be wholly fulfilled with our new station in life.
This is where we truly struggle. Keeping up this perfect pretence can be exhausting. Brave faces for family, friends, and health visitors in fear that they might actually section us if we told them how we really felt.
I found myself in a heightened state of anxiety shortly after having my son. Filled with fears that I wasn’t “doing it right” or that I wasn’t “good enough”, it wasn’t until I started getting out and talking to other mothers, that these feelings began to subside. Herein lies my advice — if I can offer any. It becomes incredibly easy to fall into a hibernation of sorts; you almost forget that there is an outside world. It is paramount to your own stability that you get out of those pyjamas and get out of that house.
I joined a baby group and from there, things got easier. Being able to discuss my baby woes with fellow mummies was hugely helpful, in not only a practical sense, but also in an emotionally supportive way. While it can be difficult at the beginning to pluck up the courage to talk to new people, especially if you’re not the most outgoing person, it is important to at least try to open up. After all, everyone is feeling the same: a little lost, a little lonely, and a little confused.
I now have a small circle of “mummy friends” and without them I’d be lost. Facebook chats, sharing daily trials and tribulations, make everyday life so much easier. It’s amazing how empowering just meeting up for a cup of coffee/glass of wine to offload about how it’s “a man’s world” can be (which by the way, it is).
We must brave the outside world and stick together. Strength in numbers! Being able to open up to others who are in exactly the same position is by far the best tool that any parent can utilise. You just need a little courage, and with that, you’ll be amazed at the strength you’ll be rewarded with.