I am definitely not the mum I thought I was going to be. In some ways, I am much better. I fell into life with a newborn quite naturally. For the most part, LD was a chilled baby. I was a chilled mumma – mostly.
It surprised me and I think it surprised others, too. It definitely surprised my mother, Betty. I know this because she told me every five minutes how surprised she was that I was so calm – hadn’t I changed? Thanks, Betty.
I have friends who say that baby number two was better for them. That they felt a greater confidence in themselves as mothers, that the routines that they had created with their first child were then quite easily adapted to the second child. The second child did not rock their little mumma boat.
My experience was completely arse-about. My time with newborn LD was so organic and lovely that it gave me a relaxed confidence. When Zee arrived, I found myself panicking because I couldn’t remember what I had done with LD that had worked so well. I did not have the luxury of time to learn about my new baby. And I had an energetic two-and-a-half-year-old whose demands were pretty constant. There was certainly no opportunity to “sleep when the baby sleeps.” The relentlessness of life with two kids and running a household made enjoying a babymoon with Zee next to impossible. I feel sad about that.
So, with baby number two, I lost my mojo. Which is pretty much the total opposite of what other mums have said.
Thankfully, I wasn’t post-natal but I did do a hell of a lot of second-guessing myself and it did erode my confidence.
The beauty of the situation is this. I was never alone. Not really. The internet has provided me with a seemingly endless network of women, other mothers who can share the load with me.
I think about how far we have come from a time when people hooking up via the internet was a little bit creepy to the present where I have forged some of the most meaningful relationships in my life just by being online.
In particular, I am blessed to have a small group of women who I communicate with almost daily. These women are some of the best friends I have never met. Together, we share our lives and in particular, our struggles with motherhood. I go to these women for advice and I go to them when one of my kids reaches a particular milestone.
And the greatest gift these women give to me is their honesty. I know that I am not the worst mother in the world. I know I am not the only one to feel the way I feel, to have reacted in that way, made that particular choice. And often, these women inspire me to be a better mum because of the wonderful things I am learning through sharing their journey with their own kids.
It’s an immense privilege. Motherhood has given me a very real sense of community. And wherever possible, I like to extend that community – to reach out and connect with other mothers because those connections can be the difference between a good day and a bad one.
Motherhood should not be attempted alone. And by that I mean, mums need other mums. Women who will support and encourage and commiserate. Because no-one truly understands like another mum.
There is a caveat – beware the supermum. The one-upper. You know her – her baby sleeps through the night, never cries, feeds/poos/naps perfectly, is fluent in seven languages and can juggle knives. Supermum lost all her baby weight six hours after the birth, bakes cupcakes from scratch, doesn’t drink coffee and is enjoying sexy times with her husband much sooner than everyone else because her vagina remained intact throughout her completely natural labour. Word to the wise – Supermum has a raging coke habit and an enormous snatch. Avoid her like the plague.
Surround yourself with women who build you up, who hold your hand through this often completely shitty journey that is motherhood and also, who celebrate the magic of it.
I am so grateful for the women in my life. And I hope they know it.