“Three years ago, I sat on this couch with my adorable four-week-old son in my arms, at the very beginning of my long-awaited maternity leave. And I hated him. Every. One second.”
Kate Gregory, writer, editor, blogger and UK mom of two, shares her story of facing the reality of motherhood.
I felt lost, tired and alone. I felt that my child had stolen my precious time. Before giving birth, I naively thought that I would have plenty of time, even with a newborn in my arms (you won’t believe it, but I bought an HTML and CSS tutorial in advance so that I would have something to do in my spare time. Free, ha!)
In short, I admit that I was a complete fool then. And for three whole years I sat on the same sofa, in those rare moments when my children (between them a difference of two years) were sleeping, and regretted that no one had come to comfort me and explain a few simple truths. Nobody prepared me for this life. However, before giving birth, I probably would have dismissed any advice. But here is what I could say to myself or any woman who is becoming a mother for the first time…
You won't start a business
And don't write a novel. And don't learn Chinese. Yes, every women's magazine is full of "inspirational" articles about women who have done it all while at home with babies. But, all you need to do in this position to keep your sanity at the end of the day is to make sure that the child eats, poops, sleeps and continues to breathe.
You have the right to sit and do nothing
So nothing at all. If your baby sleeps on your chest and you can't move off the couch without disturbing him, that's fine. This time should not be filled with "something useful". The most useful thing at this moment is your sitting with a sleeping child on the couch. And sooner or later all mothers understand this.
You can't repeat this "doing nothing" thing again
Yes, you can have another child and another year "out of life", as they like to call it. But with the second child, nothing will be exactly the same. If only because your grown-up first-born will crawl, run, walk, demand attention under your feet. And then the leave to care for the first child will seem to you a boring time in which nothing happened. Everything is known in comparison.
You shouldn't enjoy this
Surprise for those who advise to have fun: sleepless nights are never fun. And no one should pretend to like it. And for the advisers who chirp at you “enjoy every moment”, I will add: it is impossible to enjoy the fifth time in one night with cracked nipples and the yelling of a child. No, I won't say it's terrible. It's okay, it's part of life, but we have the right to honestly say that it's co-o-no fun at all.
Your career will never pick up again
Whether it's for the best or not, it just never happens. Yes, I know you think you will return to work with renewed vigor. Forget it. You will have neither the strength, nor the knowledge, nor the experience by the time you leave the decree. Get used to the idea that you have to start over even if you get the same job.
Your body won't always be like this
I remember my fear after childbirth, because I could hardly recognize myself in the mirror. But this is all temporary. Everything will return to its place. You will fit back into your jeans, they will just fit a little differently. Everything will be fine.
By the way, listen to how your husband admires your breasts. He's right, the chest looks amazing. But she won't always be like that either, unfortunately.
You must accept help
Have you been offered to help with cleaning the nursery or will they cook a casserole for you? Agree. Agree to accept help every time. It's okay to be a real person and not a "perfect mother" character from the pages of a magazine. I understand that you may feel ashamed that someone will see you walking around the house in sweatpants and eating straight from the pan. But those women who offer you help - they all went through it. Yes, dear, during this period we all ate straight from the pan, sitting on the edge of the table in sweatpants.
You were going to be a reference mother
And you will ask yourself later, was there a better way to feed/nurture/care? Or rather, if you were given the opportunity to give birth again to the same child, you definitely would not have made those mistakes that you regret. Relax. Here he is, walking beside you. Your living child, reverently looking at you. This means that you did everything right, and there was no other way to do it.
Kathy Gregory. Editor, writer, blogger, wife and mother.