List of things that suck around motherhood - and what you can do about them
Before I had kids I never would have thought that motherhood is going to be that vehicle on which you’ll just have to keep the “LEARNER driver” sticker as a permanent status…
That it’s a sport where you’ll always qualify as an amateur…
A coming of age story in which the hero never really grows up…
And yet, as I already managed to grow two humans into hard to carry, happily playing with each other, healthily chunky children, all from microscopic cells, I feel like I’ve gained some routine in handling difficult situations. Perhaps I can help others by writing about this, and maybe you ladies can complete it with your own hacks.
My list will start with a well known predator who gets especially dangerous around fresh mums:
Whaaat?? You want to give birth at home?? You’re still breastfeeding him? You sleep together?! Is he not a bit too young for this? Maybe a little too old for that?
You would think that once the first year is over they would lose some of their vigour, but sometime after your second is getting old enough for you to start thinking of returning to work, you’ll finally realise: this is never going to end (don’t worry, if you’re not thinking about going back to work, that’s also going to be a problem for them).
Although you might sometimes have the impression that they always find the weakest from the flock, the truth is: they find everyone. However, if you want to prevent them going really wild, it is essential to restrain yourself from giving an emotional reaction. Ok, but how could you do that?
- First of all: don’t let it surprise you.
Even better: be prepared. Or even better: be eager for a chance to disappoint them. At least this seemed to have worked while I was preparing for a home birth with my son: I just couldn’t wait for a chance to get witty, but somehow no-one wanted to ask me in which hospital I was planning to give birth. Or if they did, they were the kindest, most open-minded humans on earth.
- The most important thing is that YOU are OK wit the choices you make.
And for that it is essential that you’re making mindful decisions as a result of sufficient and relevant research from genuine resources filtered by your own wise, instinctual, most authentic self.
- In case you still get wounded by some of the comments, think of this as a chance to get to know yourself better, and do a thorough self-examination.
Ask yourself: what exactly was it in someone said to you that hurt so bad. This is a valuable message from within that you could probably do something for yourself in order to feel better. You might even find some banal reasons: maybe you haven’t been eating or drinking enough recently?
- Remember: in most cases these comments are not personally aimed at you but in fact just reflect on the frustrations of your “attacker”.
What kind of frustrations am I talking about? Well, they can come from the most various sources. For instance, they mayhave failed at something important to them and now it pains them that someone can succeed, even with ease. Or perhaps they didn’t get something from their own mom that would have been important for them. Maybe you just look too shamelessly happy, when they can clearly remember this time of their life as the REAL nightmare on Elm street (or whichever damned street they lived on). There’s also a chance that you did not offer them tea the moment they stepped into your living room, instead you were so rudely and selfishly preoccupied with your leaking breasts.
- Sure it’s important for that baby to sleep – preferably when you want them to, or to eat – preferably with what you want to feed them with. If, on top of that, they are not screaming 24/7, then you’ve probably fallen asleep and will soon wake from your blissful dream into a screaming reality. But truly, first and foremost, the most important thing is for you to try and keep your calm under all circumstances.
Once you have that, also maintain your joy. And in case you’ve never been a big champion of humour, now is probably the best time to start and improve some of those muscles too. Because if you somehow manage to reach your Zen state in the midst of the “bottle field” you’re not only becoming happier but also doing all you can to avoid turning into a know-it-all yourself.
A few tips if you happen to be
- Please don’t know it all.
Maybe you’re doing it because you’ve been there, maybe because you haven’t. Either way, let me remind you: fresh mums are generally like one big walking open wound – it’s almost impossible not to touch them somewhere sensitive. That’s not because of them, it’s because it’s a damned difficult time in someone’s life. They are just helplessly exposed to the crazy roller coaster of their hormonal system, the good will and sensitivity of those around them, and the unpredictable ways of their new born child. The last thing they need is you to come and tell them they could do better.
- How can you tell what you’re doing is “knowing-it-all”?
Before you say something, pause a moment and think: was this mom asking for your help/ opinion/ advice? Is there any tiny little chance that whatever you have to say is going to discourage her even more?
- But you just want to help.
Awesome, why don’t you do the dishes then? Bring her food or a glass of water. Compliment her on how quickly she’s regaining her pre-baby shape. Encourage, praise, maybe tell her how difficult you found it too when you were there (but don’t make it all about you). Sometimes it’s more than enough – especially that this must be a great effort for you – to just somehow keep those words inside. That baby chose that mom for a reason. However impossible and hard to accept this might seem to you: no-one knows better what that baby needs than her.
- Don’t take it personally.
It must be hard to see how different the current trend in bringing up children is compared to the one you followed. Many things that used to be almost “the only way”, now are treated as some inventions of the devil himself. No wonder if you get confused about things thatyou did thirty or so years ago: did we really get it so wrong? Were we, misled, fooled, tricked? Is this “new way” really how we should have done things?
Everyone reacts differently to what is, in effect, an attack on their rock solid belief system, especially about things they thought were done right. But try not project your anger on others.
Everything that comes to the surface from the depth of your consciousness and causes disharmony can be treated as a great chance for self assessment. To look at long buried things from a fresh angle, acknowledge old wounds and find ways through your current experience and wisdom to heal them. In one word: to grow. But you can only do that if you leave anger behind.
It all happened as it should. You did what you believed in and what you could do in that stage of your life. If you’re a grandparent now: seems like your babies have grown up as amazing, valuable adults, who are now fighting their own battles, follow what they believe in, just like you did when you were in their shoes. Just let them do so. Or, if you have the strength: give them your full support.