As it’s Maternal Mental Health Week, I’ve decided to share my experience of being a Mum over the next couple of blogs. I have been very blessed by having a fantastic role model, so you wouldn’t think it would be so hard. Yet I didn’t have a clue what I was letting myself in for.
Being a mother is the utmost rewarding job. I call it a job as I work hard at it. And do I get paid? Some say, you get paid with love. Well that is very true, in part.
When my girls were born I think my body was in autopilot. Instinctively you have that animalistic unconditional protective love. Your every molecule of being is entwined with that little innocent baby. You sense their every need, every want and every sigh has a meaning. You just instinctively know. Yet during that time, your hormones also take force and make you question every single action that you take. Or maybe that was just me?
Is the baby too hot? Too cold? Too hungry? Too full? Too sleepy? Too restless? Who knows? You watch them, endlessly wondering how you managed to create such a perfect being. You endeavour to do everything perfectly as with children you do not get a second chance. It’s an all or nothing sort of game. And you do a really good job, yet are fraught with worry that you’re doing it all wrong.
Whatever choice you make in terms of raising your children, is the correct one. You are an individual. Your baby is an individual. You were, at one stage, one being, yet after birth you now have the big responsibility of another human. Plenty of folk will provide their free of charge, ‘invaluable’ advice by telling you the ‘best’ way to raise your little bundle. But they are not biologically connected to your little being in the way that you are. They do not know what’s best. That’s your baby and you should do, as you deem fit. How you choose to feed, to change, to soothe or to comfort your baby is your prerogative.
People who knew me before having kids would have easily said that I’m not very maternal. That’s also how I described myself. When my first little girl was born, she surprised us by coming a month early. This threw me into motherhood well before I was ready.
I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to change a nappy, I didn’t know how to feed a baby, wind a baby, wrap a baby safely in a blanket to sleep. I was terrified. I couldn’t get this wrong. This is a little human. Completely dependant on me. Everyone had opinions. I should use all organic items, I should breastfeed, I should bottle-feed, I should use this brand of nappy, I should use this type of blanket. I should wind her like this. Wow.
I didn’t sleep for 2 weeks after she was born. Constantly on edge and fearful that I wasn’t ticking all the right boxes. I never let her cry, jumping to her every need. I loved her so much that I didn’t know you could feel love like this. It was so overpowering.
I didn’t speak to anyone about how I was feeling. The stigma around not being ok was frightening. Having a child is a blessing so why did I feel so lost and alone. Everyone said it was fine, my feelings were to be expected, I should expect to be emotional as ‘your hormones are everywhere’. Not sleeping for 2 weeks was just the accepted norm apparently. But it’s not. I refused help as I needed to do everything myself. It had to be done perfectly.
My Monria. She gave me hope. She was so lovely. She was the perfect baby. She was the perfect toddler. She loved everything and everyone and that love returned to her tenfold. Perfect. I gave her so much time and attention without a single regret. You only get one chance to raise a child and I wasn’t going to get it wrong.
I am so proud of the little girl she has grown up into. Monria, the gifted little bookworm who is meticulous to a fault, yet inquisitive and conscientious. I love her personality and frequently have to remind myself of this when she is correcting my sentence for the third time. Even though she’s only 9 years old she is wise beyond her age and to keep the balance she can be moody teenager now and then. I accept that. She needs to develop her own personality and I will be here to help her discover who she is and what she wants to do. I will coach and guide her down whichever path she chooses to take. (See blog on Well-being.)
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands.Anne Frank
It’s not for me to dictate her life to her. She has options and choices. She needs to find what makes her happy and I will walk with her side by side proudly being the embarrassing mum I’ve always dreamed of. If I can do as half a good of a job as my mum, I’ll be over the moon.
Do your best. It is enough.A. Rai (My mum)
During Maternal Mental Health Week this week I would like to dedicate my Mummying blogs to all the amazing mummies out there. You’re doing great. ❤️
Reach out if you need support…talk to someone. Please. See below for useful links. Please like and share with loved ones so they know it’s ok not to be ok.
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