Third time round having a baby is an amazing experience and I am cherishing every last moment. I marvel at every new step the CheltenhamBébé makes in this first precious year and with each new skill she learns my excitement is so quickly counteracted with a deeply rooted sadness that I am one step closer to losing her tininess.
I am empathetic towards the kind older ladies I meet in the supermarket that watch me nuzzling in her chubby neck with jealousy and tell me to enjoy every minute as ‘it goes so quickly.’ I know eventually I will be them and I will want so desperately to be back in that moment.
But I also completely and utterly appreciate that there is a large contingent of women out there who do not feel like that at all. They are finding it impossible to enjoy every last minute and instead are making it through each day where time passes with the swiftness of a snail by dreaming of the next stage, the time when things will get easier, because surely, it must get easier?
First time around and to some extent second time round, I was that woman. Though my love for my children was endless, deep and knew no bounds I was miserable, bored and overwhelmed by the never ending days with no purpose (or so I felt). By mid afternoon I would head off in the car and just drive, no destination in mind just something to do to kill a few hours until Daddy came home and I could shut myself in a room just for ten minutes safe in the knowledge that no harm could come to the babies but that I would be free from responsibility and the ‘cling’ of small children.
I would find myself constantly thinking ahead. Desperate for the first christmas, first birthday, buying clothes one step ahead and toys that were much too old for the children. Anything to move on to the next stage, to be one step closer to the time in my life when I wouldn’t have snot constantly smeared across my top and bins in every single room that never stayed empty.
Recently I started to wonder what the difference is this time round. My kids have all been on the whole pretty great, it’s not that this CheltenhamBébé is a delight and the other two were little shitbags. Age certainly must play a part I’m sure, and experience too. I don’t worry as much this time round and I certainly care very little about other people’s opinions on how I choose to parent. But I think there is something more….
When you fall pregnant you become a mother. No question about it. But for a good many of us it takes a much longer time for the role of being a mother to permeate every single cell in your body. Like a parasite we fight it, lash out against it, resent it, feel overwhelmed by the shock of it all; our lives are turned completely upside down by it and coupled with the massive drop in hormones our bodies experience in that first year post partum it’s no surprise that a lot of us sink into a bit (or a lot) of a depression.
In a matter of months you go from complete independence to do what you like, sleep when you like, go out whenever you like and in one moment all of the freedom disappears and is exchanged with all of your choices now being subject to the approval of others, one of whom you are now responsible for keeping alive.
So it’s no wonder that a lot of us are lost, walking through parks in a fog of sleep deprivation and boredom. We can’t quite work out how to maintain old friendships around a baby, we feel abandoned after the euphoric bubble of newborn bliss has burst and suddenly people stop visiting, bringing gifts and making lasagnes. We’re just left alone to make it work and we don’t really know where to start.
So if you’re the Maman that’s feeling a bit like this, if like I was you’re spending your maternity leave or your long days at home with toddlers driving around Cheltenham hoping the light turns red so you have a little longer until you get home and are faced with the Mount Everest of washing or the tedium of another nappy change, you’re not alone. Motherhood ain’t all neck nuzzling and though I am loving every minute this time round believe me there are days when my focus is more on gin guzzling.
What can I recommend to shorten the days and help you appreciate the here and now a little more? Human contact….. baby groups aren’t for everyone but they have their place. Come along to the Push It Walks for a really chilled do whatever the hell you want kind of vibe? Pick up the phone. Speak to a real life human and say ‘fancy a coffee?’ or ‘come round to my gaff, I haven’t hoovered for two weeks but I know you won’t mind coz you’re my friend….’ and they won’t mind, they really won’t. Chances are they’re feeling just like you are! If all of that fails get on social media (preferably Instagram as you’ll get the most engagement) post a picture of yourself on the very cusp of holding your shit together and write the comment ‘arrrrgggggghhhhhhhhhhh! Help Me! Parenthood is awful!’, tag a few friends, tag me, use a couple of hashtags like #instamum or #notparentingtheshitoutoflife and before you know it your Maman community will be right there.
For those of you who are struggling, remember it’s ok to not be ok. Motherhood is never going to be easy but over time it will permeate through your skin and your bones right to your very core and you’ll realise that it’s all that really matters. For those of us who have already got to that stage take some time to remember those around us who need a little help and support. Sometimes by singing about how much we love it, we only add to their misery.
If you try all of these techniques and you’re just still not getting it, it might be time to reach out for some help and believe me Mamans there is NO shame in that. Make an appointment with your GP or get in touch with PANDAS to try and access some counselling. I reckon if you asked all of the Mums who were chasing around after little people on the opening day of Pittville Park this summer if they’d suffered from any kind of post natal anxiety or depression more than 50% of them would say yes, and of that number probably only half would have asked for help…. and those that suffered in silence probably regretted it.
You can’t get time back. You and your children will only get one life. If you’re really struggling to enjoy yours then I urge you so strongly to get some help. It’s amazing what a little support and worst case some medication can make to your piece of mind and all of a sudden you’ll be living again. You’ll probably even turn into one of those really helpful Mamans like me who keeps barking on about ‘enjoying every last minute.’ You will smile again my loves. Promise.
A Post from CheltenhamMaman HQ