Everywhere I go, it seems to be new mum central – despite the little baby in the mix which obviously gives the game away, they are also made obvious by a certain look in their eyes which is an all-too-familiar melting pot of loneliness, exhaustion, I can do this and this isn’t what I signed up for. I can’t reach out to all of you on the street with a smile, a knowing glance or a few kind words, but I can write this for all of you…
Dear new mum,
This isn’t what you thought it would be. I know. You thought you would be in mama heaven. And sometimes you are. But for the most part, you are sleep deprived, hormone enraged, and have lost your old self at sea (more on that here).
You never realised how hard it was going to be, how much of yourself you were going to give – emotionally, physically, mentally. You long for uninterrupted sleep. You long for time alone. You long for a shower. You long for camaraderie. The days roll into nights and nights roll into days. A never ending cycle of feeding and changing nappies, and sometimes, albeit briefly, sleep. If only you could go back and tell your pregnant self what it would really be like. If only someone had told you what it would REALLY be like – not the version of new motherhood you were sold in the glossy magazines.
You love your baby so much it hurts (but sometimes, you feel like you just want to be without them for a while, and then hate yourself for it). Your entire life has been spent living for you, selfishly; and now everything you do is for this little being you have brought into this world. Nobody and nothing prepared you for that seismic shift in the way you’d have to live your life, the biggest transformation of your life which you spent 9 months preparing for. Nobody told you the strain it would put on your relationship, nobody told you you would be tested and challenged, pushed beyond your limits, feel totally lost in your surging emotions.
I know you want me to tell you now that it gets easier but the truth is, I can’t. But what I can tell you is that it will become different. You will experience new joys and new challenges. You will be spurred on by milestones and firsts, paid in kisses and cuddles, suffer from new frustrations, delight in new successes.
But I CAN promise you WILL find yourself again, and you know what? You will be a better you – you will be stronger and wiser for it. Your new self will thank your old self, make peace with each other, and be glad for each other.
You will soon know that YOU, not anybody knows best. You will soon know to trust your own judgement and instincts, and you will soon find your rhythm. Motherhood is a constant cycle of ebbs and flows, of highs and lows, of wins and losses. This is the beginning of the most glorious, frustrating, mind-boggling journey of your life. Enjoy the rainbows while you can and hold on tight for the shit storms as motherhood takes you on the ride of your life.
P.S. If you are a parent who has already been there and done that reading this, what would you add to this letter?
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