The lovely Aimee over at MumAmie has tagged me in a post about 10 things motherhood has taught me with some of her thoughts on what she has learned being a mum and parent. I loved what she has to say.
I am joining in to share my pearls of wisdom on what nearly 10 years of parenting (and a few years before that in childcare) have taught me. I think I am a bit wiser, although there are definitely days where I still wonder what the heck I am doing and if I will ever get this parenting thing right. Some days the realization that actually I am the adult and should know what I am doing is a bit of a scary one.
- Before you have children, you think you know what life will look like, and you have a plan in mind for what motherhood will be, and you might even have quite firm expectations as to what will happen. It’s normal to have those, and sometimes they do happen as we think they will, but most of the time, I find that motherhood is a learn as you go experience and sometimes things don’t happen the way you want them to, or expect, and that’s ok. Learning to go with the flow, and not put too much pressure on yourself or your kids helps a lot.
- The world and everyone around you will have very firm ideas about parenting and motherhood, and will be very keen to share these with you. Some of them will be helpful, some will not. Some you will value, some will make you want to scream. Don’t put pressure on yourself to try and parent the way someone else does, even if they swear it’s the best or only way. For me, sleep has been a huge thing and I have had to really lay down the books and rules and what other people say on sleep issues with my son and go with what works for us, and not necessarily what others say is the best thing. People mean well but sometimes they don’t actually get what is happening within your life and your family. Don’t let someone else make you feel you aren’t parenting the right way. If it’s working for you then keep at it. Smile and nod, when you are given advice and either act on it if it sounds good, or file it in the “meh, that’s not for me” box.
- You are still important in all of the mix that is motherhood, parenting and relationships. If you don’t look after you, then you cannot be the best mum/wife/partner. If you can get time to look after yourself, even if it’s just getting time alone to bath in peace, go for a run, sit down with coffee and a book, a nap, or whatever refreshes you, then do it. It is hard to get time to look after ourselves, especially if you have very small kids or more than one, but I see a lot on social media that I think makes women feel guilty for trying to carve out time for themselves, when in fact, we have to, to maintain ourselves. If you have a good babysitter who will come over and let you go out on a date night, or to the movies, grab them. I have a small circle of friends who will willingly take my kids if I need and I will gladly do the same for them.
- Sleep, of course. This is something I know a fair bit about, because I have a small boy who has struggled with sleep issues and still does on and off. Sleep will change when you are a mother. You will feel a lot of the time that you aren’t getting enough. It’s probably true. When the babies are small they do wake a lot, and need you. It’s normal. Some babies do sleep all night, but most don’t. Also, not all children sleep all night, or stay in their own beds. It’s surprising how normal this is, and much to my relief it’s not just us. You will feel tired and some days you will feel like you will never get a decent night’s sleep again. Coffee is my best friend. Sleep deprivation is hard, and there aren’t easy answers to it, but know you are not alone.
- Your house will never be the pristine and tidy place it was before you had children (I was very tidy and a neat freak before I became a mother) and that’s ok.
- It’s ok to admit you are struggling or not having an easy time, and that motherhood is hard. I think social media, again makes us feel like unless we are looking fabulous, with perfectly behaved children, a fit for a magazine photo-shoot house, and perfectly run life, then we aren’t doing it right, and that’s an impossible thing for most of us. Some days you do wonder why on earth you have signed up to be responsible for these small humans in your life who make mess, don’t sleep, cry, won’t let you pee alone, and when you go on Facebook or blogs and see other people who look like they have perfect lives and motherhood sussed, it doesn’t help. No one actually does have it all together and we all struggle, and that’s ok. On that note, I would say, that as someone who has struggled with Post Partum anxiety, depression and anxiety, during my motherhood journey, please ask for help if you really feel you are not managing and it’s all just got to the point where you cannot cope. There is help out there, and there is no shame in seeking it. We are very strong but sometimes we cannot manage and we need to get support.
- You will feel an enormous roller-coaster of emotions as a mother. Intense joy, fear, anger, frustration, love, pride, and a whole range of things in between. Sometimes all at the same time. It’s quite a ride.
- Your body will change, and there will be things that will never be the same. It’s hard in some ways to accept that, but in other ways it’s a learning and growing experience. I feel better about myself, now at 40, with the battle scars of pregnancy & birth, than I did aged 25 when I was thin, fit and always trying to look good.
- The feeling that these small humans that you made, that love you, and think you are amazing (even when you have been up all night, look pretty haggard, and haven’t had enough coffee yet) and who will look to you, because you are the center of their universe, is something that I cannot describe but it’s like nothing I have ever experienced. Knowing that you are responsible for them is slightly terrifying but also amazing at the same time. Kids love unconditionally, and that’s such a special thing we have. That keeps me going on the days when motherhood has been a bit of a battle or I feel I haven’t done things the way I wanted to.
- You will, one day, be able to pee alone, and drink your hot drink before it gets cold. That only happens here for me, if my children are at school (even then I have a cat that insists on accompanying me to the bathroom) but one day it will. In the meantime, always remember that no matter how hard it seems, how tired you are, that YOU are doing a great job, even on those days when it’s harder than hard and you don’t think you know what you are doing. You will get there, and your children think you are the best thing in their life (even when they are grumpy teenagers, they still need and love their mums) and one day, when your own children have children and come to you to ask for help or advice, you will smile and look back and remember and probably laugh. It’s an amazing adventure, full of challenges, highs and lows, but I wouldn’t change that and being a mother has made me stronger, and hopefully a little wiser, and it’s worth every bit of the sleep I have lost… 😉
Me, and Emily, 48 hours into the adventure that is motherhood…
Oh and P.S at some point in your motherhood journey, your child probably will have a meltdown in public where someone else will then come and give you a hard time about it, and tell you off or how to make your child behave. It’s kind of a rite of parenting passage. If you can smile weakly and walk away without saying something slightly rude back, you are a far better woman than me… 😉