The Newborn Days
It’s OK not to be OK. This subject has been the focus of much media attention recently, with Meghan Markle opening up about her own struggles in motherhood. The fact is, no matter who you are or how much money you have; nothing can truly prepare you for the roller-coaster ride of being “Mum”.
As I held my little boys hand for the first time, his arrival felt nothing short of miraculous. I stared at his tiny body in disbelief. It was hard to comprehend that he was mine. That he had grown inside of me. That I was a mum.
The new-born ride was tough to endure. Some days I felt as though I was soaring through the sky. Only to plunge so low that I wondered if I would crash into the ground below. I loved my son with all my heart. And yet there were days when I woke and wondered if I was strong enough to be a good mum. What if I couldn’t do this? That thought scared the hell out of me.
At the time, I remember putting constant pressure on myself to appear ‘OK’ even when the dark cloud of exhaustion threatened to smother me. It took me many months of motherhood to realise that it’s OK not to be OK….
But it’s also OK to make a change….
I sat on the sofa, 5 and a half months into motherhood. As I clung to my son, tears streamed down my face and I realised that enough was enough.
I hadn’t had a full night sleep in nearly 6 months and I knew this had to end. It was affecting my judgment as a mother, my decision making and primarily, my well-being. That was the moment I decided to hire a sleep trainer; in that moment a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Finally, I had someone to lean on, someone to stop my obsessive googling of sleep schedules. Read more about my baby sleep journey here.
As the days rolled on there were lots more mornings when I woke, after a solid night of sleep, feeling OK again. It felt awesome to take some of ‘me’ back and I relished that feeling of reclaiming my own identity again.
The Toddler Days
Fast forward to the 2-year mark and the chaos of the new-born days has passed us now. There are less sleepless nights, less bottles, less crying. In its place there are more tantrums, more running around and endless snacks!
However, there is no real end to the rollercoaster ride that is motherhood. The challenges evolve, but nonetheless they remain. These days nurturing the patience and energy that my toddler craves is hard sometimes.
There are amazing days when little man laughs and plays with me. When his little smile melts my heart and he can do no wrong. We play peekaboo and chase all around our house. He giggles and hugs me close; it’s as close to perfection as you can get.
And then there are other days where I feel like I can’t stand another tantrum. When I stare at my childless friends on Facebook – craving their freedom. It’s OK not be OK…
But it’s also OK to ask for help
It took me a long time to accept that my inner control freak would need to step back. Shouldering the role of mum, and the tasks that come with it, was too overwhelming, too exhausting. Our culture has nurtured attitudes of martyrdom that damage the mental health of mothers everywhere and it needs to stop.
Now we have a cleaner to help in the house so that some of the pressure is off me.
When family offer help, I’ve learnt to accept graciously. Often my mother-in-law helps us out – putting loads of laundry on for me when I’m at work. All these little things help to take the edge off, they relieve some of the exhaustion of motherhood.
Self-care is also important. I try to make time for me; I go to my dance class on a Tuesday evening. I run on the treadmill when my son is asleep. I even make time for the occasional girly night (even if it does mean being home by 22:30!).
It’s OK not to be OK but it’s also OK to make changes in your life, to acknowledge that your wellbeing is important too. That a part of being a good mum is having a tiny bit of time for yourself too.