It’s funny, isn’t it? Before you become a parent, you are full of idealistic preferences on what sort of parent you think you’ll be and what you think parenting will be like.
And then motherhood, or fatherhood, comes in it’s full glory and runs you the fuck over. “Choo choo, bitch. You thought wrong”, it says, as it flattens your expectations and your blob of an exhausted body to the ground. And in your cemented-to-the-floor status, you have to admit that they were right about how hard being a parent is and that it was easier to parent before you actually became one.
For me, the dark truth hit as soon as I became pregnant. My symptoms started about a week after conception. And I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Otherwise known as: haha your body hates being pregnant and you are going to spend a small eternity weeping into buckets and toilets, starving half to death, convulsing up your body weight in fuck-knows-what (since you haven’t eaten in days) in a possessed fashion.
Honestly, HG is a violent reaction to pregnancy, it hurts a ridiculous amount and I preferred my God awful induced labour to the first 18 weeks of my pregnancy (after that it was manageable with medication). It was vile. And I was thankful to be pregnant, but the 21 year old me who was hugging the bedroom wall at a 35° angle, trying not to be sick (again, please god, no), was so miserable and so isolated and so afraid.
And yet, during my breadline pregnancy, I still managed to keep a romanticised view of motherhood. I’d like to add I knew it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows but I was imagining motherhood as if it was going to be this holistic, healing walk through a Disney movie. I had no idea of the horrors of attempting to breastfeed a baby with reflux or looking after a newborn for days at a time on my own. I had no idea that I’d hate babywearing, and that it wouldn’t work for me, or that the stairs of my flat would often prevent me from going out because it was such a mammoth task. I had no idea I’d have to choose bottle washing over eating, that I’d worry about SIDS constantly for the first six months-ish. I cried so much and I didn’t have PND, I had a severe case of exhaustion. It was hard in the ways I didn’t realise it was going to be.
I also had no idea that the love for my unborn baby would not even begin to cover how much my heart would burst looking at Reuben. I had no idea of the indescribable love that would flood through every single cell in my body. I still can’t describe it. My child is now at an age where he’s starting to misbehave and it’s still there; the disbelief that this beautiful baby is mine and I’d give anything to protect him. The thankfulness I feel when I look at him, whether he’s being an angel or a little shit, often is overwhelming. I feel joys every day that my pre-baby self could not possibly understand.
But my pre-baby self, undoubtedly so, could not imagine being a parent at all. It’s not like babysitting at all. It’s not like looking after anyone else’s kids – and if you want to know why – it’s because they’re not yours. When the child is yours (I include adopted children here), it’s different, because the love you feel for them shapes an intricate bond. You hurt with them, you feel joy with them, when they’re testing you, it hurts. It all hurts. It hurts so much.
Nobody tells you how much it hurts watching your baby grow up and out of your arms, no matter how proud of them you are, it hurts. It breaks your heart, especially because all the hormones of the fourth trimester render you incapable of remembering the blur of new motherhood. All the days mash together in the roast dinner that is motherhood.
And it is a roast dinner, yeah? It is. You are the yorkshire pudding in a plate of chaos and you best believe you can hold your gravy if you want to survive. Otherwise, you’ll be a soggy messy, wondering why that mum on instagram has conquered parenting, cleaning and baby group in the time it’s taken you to get your baby sorted and finally have your breakfast.
My advice to you if you ever feel like that is to whisper good for you but fuck off and enjoy another cup of coffee in your pjs. Stop comparing yourself. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no set routine for your days and if you let go of it, you’ll be happier, I promise.
Routines for your baby are good but routines for you? They’re overrated in my opinion. Go with the flow, learn how to breathe when you’re overwhelmed, and care less about the state of the house. It’ll get done, okay? It’ll get done, but for now, snuggle your little one while they still want snuggles & ignore the pressure to Mrs Hinch your rug and Marie Kondo your knicker drawer – it doesn’t fucking matter. Tidy house, tidy mind, is a thing but you’re going to a miserable mama if you’ve lost your sanity trying to achieve instamum perfection.
It might be hard to let go of the parent you wanted to be. I found it hard. But I had to realise that I was given a set of skills to work with in my specific situation and all I could do was hold on, and get through it the best I could.
I promise you, you’re doing a fab job, okay? Bad parents don’t worry about being bad parents. Good parents do. Chill out a bit.
Thank you for reading,
With love, Rebecca ♡