Something has been happening to me over the last while. It’s a feeling of almost coming full circle. Like I’m finally settling into a newer version of myself. A little battered round the edges perhaps, but one that still bears a strong resemblance to the old me, except with two crazy kids in tow. And if I had to put a title on it, I’d say it was a feeling of ‘becoming mum.’
Have I lost the plot, I hear you cry? Haven’t I been a mother for nearly five years? So, what the heck am I on about now? What’s all this talk about becoming mum? (Before you ask: no, I haven’t any surprises to share! *mops one’s brow, as the husband runs screaming for the hills 😉 )
What I’m talking about here is the birth of a mother. It’s the stuff they don’t tell you about in the books. The volumes that ‘prepare’ you for pregnancy, labour, routines and night feeds – the ones that give you an overview of the mechanics of motherhood. But what these books don’t quite set you up for is this unbelievable journey of change. A transition that will take the old cosy, familiar ‘you’ and shake it up, turn it on its head and rattle it around. It’s a voyage that will stretch your body, mind and soul. One that will challenge you to surrender to a multitude of life changes, often when you don’t feel quite ready to let go.
In truth, I’d like to say I took to motherhood like a duck to water. But I’ll admit I’ve found my own ‘birth’ incredibly tough. In those early years, I often compared myself (and still do) to other mums who seemed to effortlessly roll with the changes. Mums who appeared to take to the task with a spring in their step, without any sign of the struggles I felt I was facing. I often remember feeling overwhelmed by thoughts that I wasn’t quite good enough at this motherhood malarkey.
I’d look in the mirror and constantly wonder what I should be doing better. I’d torment myself over the feeling that other people were coping much better with this huge life change than I was. I’d cry many tears, mainly of guilt; guilty that I kept thinking about the old me and all the freedom that I thought that stood for. The long yoga practices, the days by the pool, my quiet time, my early nights. Noone really to answer to but me, myself and I.
When I look back, I can see clearly see this immense pressure I placed upon myself to quickly and effortlessly shift into the role of mother. This feeling that just because we’ve given birth, we should automatically know what to do. That we should right away be able to find that space in our lives to surrender to all the chaos and glory that motherhood entails. That pressure to show a strong outer core, even when our hormones are in turmoil. Even when we’re down right exhausted. Pressure to be that matriarchal figure that we think we should be – ever patient, selfless, happy and calmly authoritative – even when our toddlers are rolling screaming on the floor of the supermarket!
I realise now that that person doesn’t exist.
Or if she does, I’d like to know her secret!
As I write, my shoulders are relaxed, my breath is steady. There’s less of a sign these days of the ball of stress that I used to feel tucked tight into my belly. I’m finally willing, as a mother of two, to forgive myself. For having crap days when I feel like I want to retreat to the Himalayas. For sometimes feeling frustrated at being in constant demand. For shouting (the odd expletive) when the going gets tough…
[ “I’m f&*king fed up! I’ve seen this Paw Patrol episode sixteen hundred times!” Molly says casually this afternoon.
“MOLLY! That is NOT the way we talk as little girls and ladies! Who told you how to talk like that?” I cry.
Gulp. Guilty as charged. ]
Yes, I’m finally admitting to myself that this ‘becoming mum’ business takes time. It’s not just nine months and a wham bam, thank you mam. We’re not supposed to be great at this from the get go, or indeed, ever truly great at it at all! It’s human to feel like we’ve no idea what the hell we’re doing. Becoming a mum is a constant evolution. A daily practice of making mistakes, letting go, dusting ourselves down and starting all over again. And while I have loved my children from the moment I gave birth to them, I’ll admit it has taken me a long time to feel more comfortable in my new skin.
Sometimes I catch the smiles of my pair, and I can’t quite believe I’m a mother of two. I’m actually a MUM. I’ve created these amazing little people who teach me more about life and myself on a daily basis than I’ve ever learned before. And, if you don’t mind me saying, that kind of makes me a bloody legend. I know I’m certainly one in their little eyes.
That, to me, is one of the coolest things about motherhood; the capacity you have to adore, and to be adored.
Finally, if you’re experiencing your own birth as a mother, then I hope you read this as a little reminder. To stay strong. To smile, to laugh, to have a good moan to your friends. To know that it’s perfectly normal to have a s*&t day or week, or a rant at the husband for his ability to escape so freely for a pint. To forgive yourself for feeling like you might just want a little peace from time to time.
Yes, I hope it reminds to pause, breathe, and enjoy this becoming mum business in all its crazy, chaotic, unpredictable beauty. Because you’ve got this. We’ve got this. Our amazing journey is only just beginning.
“Motherhood is a choice you make everyday, to put someone else’s happiness and well-being ahead of your own, to teach the hard lessons, to do the right thing even when you’re not sure what the right thing is…and to forgive yourself, over and over again, for doing everything wrong.”
Donna Hall, At Home on Ladybug Farm