15 long, LONG months ago, I gave birth to Dope. She arrived 4 weeks early and in record time. My entire labour was 40 minutes long. She came through her express delivery beautiful and healthy and so did I. OK, I was in physically good shape but perhaps aesthetically could have done with some help. Everyone told me how lucky as I was. And I was, but I was also unprepared. My heart had yet to realise what I was signing up for and my head had yet to learn all the ins and outs of newborn rearing. I had a rough few months. 14.5 of them to be precise. Many tears and tantrums, feelings of frustration and helplessness. Minimal sleep. Soooooo little sleep. Soul destroying exhaustion. Many moments of doubt: what were we thinking? This was not one of our better ideas...I was a fully fledged member of the 'motherhood is hard' club. Yes, there were nice bits. Moments whenI looked a Dope and thought it was all OK. Moments when my heart swelled with love. Moments we laughed, felt proud, happy, together. But overall it was HARD.
But now, it has all flipped around. Now, for me, motherhood is good. Yes, there are hard bits. Moments when I look at Dope and realise this particular turn of events is not OK. Moments when my brain is ready to explode with frustration. Moments we cry, shout, stomp, despair and feel lost. But overall it is GOOD.
I don't know what has brought about this change. If pressed, I could maybe say that this change happened after Dope and I attended a first birthday party recently. I was there, whinging and whining about how little sleep we get and I realised I’m such a downer. I’m always the mum complaining. I don’t like how that makes me feel and more importantly I don’t like the reputation I’m giving Dope. So I decided to stop blabbing on about my mama troubles and to only share good news stories. And there are so many of them. Insomnia aside, Dope is a delight. She really is.
I can only think that changing what comes out of my mouth is changing what’s going around in my head. And, in turn, that has given my heart space to expand and feel all of the lovely, squishy feelings that my grumpy head has been blocking for so long. Or it could be that Dope has had a cold and has actually slept OK for a few nights. But I prefer to believe that my own personal growth is responsible for this ground-shift in our house. I’m loathe to credit it to a germ.
With all of my pesky thoughts out of the way, I’m now simply overwhelmed with love for Dope. Truly. I can’t get enough of her. And it seems to be infectious (the love, not the cold-germ). Buda also seems more relaxed. It must be so nice for him to come home to find me welcoming him in to some family time with all of us together. He used to get home and I would fire some Dope-keeping instructions at him – dinner is defrosting, she needs a nappy change – before mumbling something about popping out for toilet rolls. I would then spend 2 hours wandering the aisles of Asda to make me feel I was doing something constructive rather than just avoiding my daughter. Our new way feels so much nicer.
I know that all of this happy, lovey vibe could disappear. A particularly sleepless night or a whiny, clingy day could be enough to get me shooting out SOS calls again. But I hope not. I hope that I’m grounded enough to keep this mood. I’m not floating around in a mummy bubble of perfection. I still have the tough moments. I still feel desperate to handover parenting duties to Buda at times. I still take a deep breath before responding to a cry. But now, I recognise these tough moments for what they are. Moments. I no longer string all of these moments together and allow them to become the unbroken narrative of our lives. I still read amazingly accurate, truthful and funny accounts of parenthood trials like this and chuckle knowingly. But I finish article knowing that as true as all of that is, becoming a mum is still my finest idea.
And so now, I think it's safe to say that we're into the good bit. We have finally reached the promised land of parenthood. The bit where you say 'it's worth it', and you mean it. And that feels really, really good.
PS - For mamas still firmly inside the ‘motherhood is hard camp’, don’t let my newfound love for motherhood add to your pressures. Know that if I was with you, I would be making you a hot cup of tea and holding your baby so that you could enjoy it. I would empathise, share horror stories and acknowledge what a bum deal mothering can be. But I would also offer you hope. Reassurance that things can change – maybe not for a long time, but that’s OK. Motherhood is hard and the longer you’re in that tough place, the sweeter it will feel when you leave.
PPS – those of you who have visited this post before may notice that it has changed somewhat. Previously it was a pious, preachy, sickly post about how amazing I find motherhood these days. It actually had the phrase, ‘we overloading on love’ in it. Horrendous, gushy stuff written and posted late at night. Whilst nothing in the earlier post was a lie, I figured it needed some balance added, particularly for people not at this stage of their mothering journey. From now on, I promise to save and sleep on a post before publishing!