It’s Not Just Me: Conversations on Motherhood
At first you feel alone. You arrive home excited and a little nervous at the prospect of having to care for this new arrival all by yourself without the helpful guidance and support of hospital nurses and staff. For me, it was a whirlwind, those first two weeks of madness. Packing boxes, closing accounts, dotting “I’s” and crossing “T’s” in preparation for a continental move to Poland. I think it was the adrenaline or the pure joy of becoming a new mother that helped me persevere through the numerous nightly feedings and long arduous days tidying up loose ends with a newborn in toe.
Finding stability did come, or as much as one can find with a two week old. My mother- and sister-in-law had everything prepared from the baby bath to the basinet. Henry and I felt right at home settling in for the 3 ½ month stretch that lay ahead.
Though, the harsh reality set in maybe a few days after our arrival. We had everything we needed, but we were foreigners, everyone had their lives, busy schedules and routines that kept them on the go, day in and day out. Of course, this is what you would you expect, Henry and I had time to bond, to learn and adjust to this new reality of motherhood.
It was during this time that the busy body I normally am realized that life no longer revolved around a daily “to-do” list for work and other projects, but in fact circulated around this handsome little boy. I had these grand plans that I would start working on my next book and start sorting out the next stages of my professional career, but that would not be the case. Frustrations with myself that I had not the time nor energy to commit to anything other than child care was disheartening at first, that is until I spoke with other moms that had gone through similar realizations.
Sharing experiences, like having a conversation with one of my best friend’s in Brussels who at the time was getting ready to go back to work after giving birth to a baby girl 8-months earlier was helpful putting life as a new mom into perspective.
Being a mother is hard work.
Your time is no longer your own.
Your body is in a state of repair and healing.
You are a source of nourishment for your baby.
Time is irrelevant.
Acceptance is vital.
Letting go of judgements is key.
Take care of yourself.
Don’t stress over your post-partum body; give it time and patience.
Embrace the moment because it is fleeting.
Trust your motherly instincts.
AND not all advice is good advice.
It may feel like you are going at life alone. Having time can be both a blessing and a curse if you let negative self-chatter fog up your mind and weigh on your emotions, especially when your hormones are not what you are accustomed to. I know I felt this way until I had more reassurance from another friend and mentor. With three children, she had some cordial insight to share about becoming a mother and what women so often overlook or fail to communicate to one another. Expressing the hardships may be difficult. As women, we are expected to step up to the challenge and role of being a good wife, caretaker, mother…but it can feel isolating at first. Maybe you have your own mother there for assistance, but if not, it is hard to relate. Becoming a mother happens over night, but learning the intricacies takes time.
I was fortunate to have friends that shared their own experiences with me, words of wisdom and encouragement when life, at times, felt daunting. Mothers, women, we do not have to go at it alone. Share in conversations, reach out for help and most of all invest in yourself. You are doing a great job, seek the tools and assurances you need to find peace during this new phase of your life.