I’m not going to buy any packaged baby food… I’ll chuck them in daycare after I finish maternity leave… No plastic toys in my house… i’ll never let them sit in front of a screen – said every Mother before they have kids.
I recall with fondness, the awkward anti-natal classes; a room bulging (no pun intended) with incredibly naiive yet optimistic mum and dads to be. Information carefully syringed into them on a weekly basis, whilst they are not yet ready to absorb the contents. It makes me wonder if anyone can actually prepare a Mum to be for what’s to come? Is it the warm, comfortable glow they immit that makes us continue to offer the standard ‘congratulations’ line, secretly wishing them the best of luck and strength ever imaginable under our breaths. Looking back, I don’t think we can. We can’t prepare anyone for anything, but we can look back and offer the support nets, and advocate for change, so that when these people fall (and they will), there will be a stronger net to catch them.
The transition isn’t easy for Mums. Especially those who hold a career (which doesn’t involve consistently changing nappies) close to their heart. The transition is an astoundingly beautiful mess. The transition involves delving head first into the middle of the Atlantic, not knowing which direction would be safest to swim.
Only since becoming a Mother, I can look back on my own childhood with another level of gratitude towards my own Mum.
- I didn’t understand at the time why she would get up at the crack of dawn when we were teenagers, to go and garden… now I do. She was seeking a sense of peace and quiet amidst our demands.
- I didn’t understand at the time how on earth she could have forgotten to pick us up from school… now I do. She was trying to please her 4 kids, her husband and herself.
- I didn’t understand at the time why she was always the last to get in the car when she had told the rest of us to hurry up… now I do. She spent hours organising everybody else and left 5minutes to organise herself.
- I didn’t understand why she called the dog her best friend… now I do. The dog was the one who sat beside her withholding judgement as she shed her tears
- I didn’t understand how she was always there when I turned around… now I do. She wanted to lift me up by providing the best support and care possible that only a Mum can give.
- I didn’t understand why she and Dad argued all the time.. now I do. She did so much for us and got given so little.
But what if your baby dies, like mine? The is no family memories to help humble you through this gut wrenching event. You’re left to fall, and fall again, like a tumble weed drifting across a sandy dessert. You’re left to navigate your ship forward, though constantly taking on water in a sea of raging waves. As time passes, people look at you strangely as you find yourself wallowing in the hole of guilt and grief. It’s as if you’re expected to keep up with the pace of the world. You feel like you have to move on because that’s what society says helps and that’s what the family you still have at home needs. My husband insists there is something wrong with me because i’m not as ‘carefree’ or ‘chilled out’ as I used to be. I can’t force him to understand the mental baggage of a Mum in general, let alone a Mum after a baby loss. I can only hope that he is humble enough to provide enough care but additionally allow me the space I need to regain my strength and find a clearer path through the haze.
There is no guide book for Mums, no guide book for babies, no guide book for birth and no guide books for death. There is no right way or wrong way to cope with any of these massive life events. Just know though, that the way you feel and the way you hold yourself through these times, is perfectly ok, no matter what anyone else thinks or says about you later on. There is no need to feel ashamed or embarrassed when you look back.
No matter if you are a breast feeding Mum, a formula Mum, a stay at home Mum, a full time working Mum, a part time working Mum or a grieving Mum. No matter what research says, what your in laws say, what your friends say; You’re are doing the best you can do at this point in time, given your current circumstance and that’s all that counts.
Being a Mother will humble you, anger you, frighten you, encourage you and make you a better you. There is no job that will continue to offer you such a high level of personal development and growth, as that of the role of a Mum.