Motherhood is a funny sort of thing. On one hand, we all know conceptually what it entails and what to expect or how to handle our new role in life. We read endless parenthood books and mommy blogs, listen to the advice of an endless line of well meaning relatives and basically try to cram in as much knowledge on ‘how to be a good mom’ as humanly possible in nine months. We assure ourselves that we will be the best mom ever, that we will definitely not make the mistakes so-and-so is obviously making and that we will be able to handle it without too much difficulty. Not to burst your bubble ladies, but mommy-hood is just a little bit more complicated than that. For one thing:
1) You will look like hell for the first few months
Celebrities make it look so easy with their seemingly supernatural ability to look as glamorous, fit and fresh two months after giving birth as they did pre-pregnancy. We look at these women and think that if they can do it, why can’t we? I mean, if they can do it, then it’s obviously not outside the realm of the possible, right? Well, not exactly. See, what we don’t realise is that celebrities not only have personal trainers to help them exercise, dieticians to concoct the perfect diet and chefs to actually make those ‘healthy’ foods, but they also have a lot more help with the baby then the average mom. So yes, it’s easy to look fresh and well put together when you have a 24/7 nanny to care for the baby as opposed to us normal people who not only have to care for our babies ourselves, we also have to manage to somehow find the time (and the energy) to exercise and cook healthy food. So yes, you will look like hell the first few weeks or months, but don’t worry, this too shall pass. Eventually. Maybe. You know what, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
2) You will always think you are a bad mother
You may be the most positive and optimistic person in the hemisphere before mommy-hood hits you, but there will come a point (or more accurately, several points) when you will stress about being a bad mother. This sort of self-doubt hits even the best of us and what you need to remember is that no matter how flustered, teary or frustrated you get, no matter how short you fall of your self-imposed expectations, always remember that you are NOT a bad mother. Just the fact that you are worrying about being a bad mother should tell you that you aren’t one. After all, bad mothers don’t stress over being bad mothers. No one is perfect, so give yourself a break. If you have a well-fed, moderately clean and dry baby that you haven’t dropped on her head today, then congratulations, you are a good mom.
3) You WILL need help
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about psychological help (though some of us may or may not lose our sanity halfway through the roller coaster ride that is motherhood). I mean help with the baby or with housework so you can have more time for the baby. You would think that something so small would demand less time and effort, after all, all they basically need is for you to feed them, bath them, change them and soothe them right? Well, yes that is basically all that is required, but honey, trust me when I say it’s not as simple as it sounds and if you intend to hold on to your sanity, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Trust me, you will need it. The sooner you accept that, the better off you’ll be. As for all you pregnant ladies sitting there shaking your head and thinking to yourself ‘of course I can do it on my own! This blogger is just lazy/a bad mom’, let me know how that turns out for you.
4) You WILL make mistakes
I know, I know, you have it all mapped out in front of you. You have mental lists of dos and donts culled from multiple sources, you know exactly how to handle any conceivable situation, you have read every parenting book that is out there, etc etc. That’s very nice and all, but despite all your preparations (or sometimes because of them), you will still make mistakes, and that is ok. We’re only human after all, right? We’re meant to make mistakes in life! So before you mentally berate the harassed looking mother a the supermarket who can’t seem to get her newborn to stop crying, or make spiteful comments about your cousin/sister-in-law/friend’s inability to keep their baby smelling as fresh as a daisy 24/7, remember that no matter what you might think now, you will make the same ‘mistakes’ when you actually become a mother and others will be thinking the same sort of things about you at one point or another. Karma’s a bitch ladies, so be nice to the new moms around you and you just might find some empathy once you’re in their shoes.
5) In the end…
In the end, when all is said and done, it’s all worth it. Having a baby is a mixed bag of tricks. It’s the best and worst experience of your life, and the most rewarding. You will look like hell, you will probably not have much of a social life, you will get depressed over the weight gain, but when that baby smiles at you, it’ll all seem worth it. You will find yourself regretting having a baby, you will miss your pre-baby body, freedom and life, but the next moment you’ll worry that you’re a bad mother for having such thoughts. You will probably become extremely impatient with others, but will still manage to have infinite patience with your baby. At times you will want to run away and cry in a corner, you will feel overwhelmed, frustrated and flustered, and thats ok too. You might grudge your husband’s ability to go to work and have a life while you are tied to your home and baby, but at the same time you will not want to exchange the time you get to spend with your baby for anything in the world. Motherhood is not just positive, it is the combination of the good, the bad and the ugly and in the end, it’s all worth it and the minute you hold your baby in your arms for the first time, you will know that you will never love another human being as fiercely as you love this fragile little bundle.
So yes, in the end, it is all worth it.