I had never really thought about what it would mean to be a mum, to enter this crazy world called parenthood. Sure, I wanted to be a mum, I knew that much. But I never really thought about the incredible sacrifices, challenges, and emotions it would entail; and the huge amount of energy it would demand of me. I guess if we all thought about these things in advance, the number of people becoming mothers would probably plummet to the earth’s core.
There are so many things I have learnt, so many things I have accepted in my first two years of being a mother. And I feel a much better person, and mother for it. Hindsight can be a wonderful yet cruel thing…if only we had known. But how could we ever? Would I have listened to my own parenting advice? Would I have comprehended if I tried to pass on these nuggets of wisdom to my former self? I can only speculate, but one thing I know for sure, those nuggets would be these:
1. Don’t try to be perfect – The fastest way to come undone as a mother is to try to be perfect. Instead embrace your imperfections, and what they bring to the table.
2. There will be times when you feel like a failure – Weekly, daily, hourly, these times will come and come again. Wallow if you must, learn from it, and try to be stronger the next time you fall.
3. People will always try and impose their way of doing things on you – Shut off. Their opinions don’t matter. Walk away and trust in yourself.
4. Sometimes there is nothing you can do – Sometimes you try every combination, every approach, and nothing works. Accept that sometimes there is nothing you can do to change things, it’s out of your control.
5. Take pleasure in the little things – When times are tough, and even when they are not, take pleasure in the small happy moments. Be in the now, forget about what has been or what will happen.
6. Don’t take it personally – Kids can act like assholes. That in turn makes you feel like an asshole too. Don’t take it personally – it’s just the way they are.
7. It’s ok to lose your shit – Sometimes letting yourself unravel is the only way you’re ever going to decompress and move onto the next thing.
8. Know that this too shall pass – No matter how bad things may seem at any given moment of time, you have one thing you can always fall back on, and that is knowing that this too shall pass. And remember, whatever doesn’t break you, makes you.
9. Don’t overanalyse – Unless you want to drive yourself into a deep, dark hole, forget the over analysis, hey even forget the analysis. It doesn’t get you anywhere really, apart from stuck with your knickers firmly twisted around your butt.
10. Trust your instincts – There is a reason why the old adage “Mother knows best” exists. Your instincts are more powerful than any book or advice. Know that and have the courage to stick to it.
11. Everyone else is fumbling around in the dark too – Know that however “together” everyone else seems, that behind closed doors, it’s just the same theme, different variation they are living through. People are very good at making things seem ok, when they are in fact – not. If in doubt, fake it ’til you make it.
12. Don’t compare – Comparison is the root of all evil. While we are all in this motherhood thing together, every child, mother, family and situation is different. Focus on your own. No one size fits all.
13. Always know that you’re doing your best – For that moment, for that stage, you are doing the best you can do. Never feel you are letting anyone down, particularly yourself.
14. Enjoy the rainbows when they come, hold on tight for the shit storms – The highs are high, but the lows can be phenomenally low. Hold on tight for the roller-coaster as it careers from one day to the next.
15. This is the hardest job you’ll ever do – Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise. Trust that through innumerable challenges and simply mind-boggling times, you will come out stronger, wiser and better for it.
16. Don’t lose yourself – Don’t feel guilty about making time for yourself and your own needs and interests. You need a mental (and physical!) break from this motherhood gig, and you will come back a better parent for it.
17. Don’t lose your relationship – Work, work, work at your relationship. Because this is how everything started, and one day, hopefully all that will be left once the kids pack off.
18. It’s hard for him too – It’s bloody hard being a mother. It’s also bloody hard being a father in many ways different from the ones you count your own.
19. Accept the mother you are – The mother you become may very well be very different from the mother you envisaged yourself as. Accept and make peace with that notion.
20. You are not a failure if you need help – Once upon a time, whole communities raised children, nowadays, the onus is much more on the nuclear family. With less family support, do not be afraid to seek out help and support in any way possible. Go with whatever makes your life easier. You can not be everything to everybody.
What else would you tell your former self about being a mum? Do share in a comment below….