Dear New Mumma
I liken bringing your first babe home like an escape room (too far?) that lasts around 12 months. As in the part where you’re completely stuck and stumped lasts for 12 months. You have a set of clues like an escape room. But they are cryptic. None of the clues are obvious, and often times you need to do a lot of maths or logical thinking to get the next clue or feel as if you’ve made any headway. It feels stressful. It’s exciting. It’s oh so hard. But unlike an escape room which you do with a group of friends, or a village of helpers, becoming a new mum is usually a lonely game.
You have a brand new human that you co created through means of spectacular science or one of the most spectacular things on earth you can do with someone else, all to realise, hey this doesn’t feel spectacular. And that’s a little awkward. Can’t exactly shove them back into a Petri dish or your belly. Can’t exactly say ‘yeah nah not for me’ and take them back to maternity. That little baby is yours now, indefinitely.
I wanted to write a blog to new mums, or mums that have become mums all over again, because having a new baby is hard. For me, it was harder the first time around, but every time you bring a baby home there is just so much to navigate and get used to. You are a changed person after giving birth, no matter how many times you’ve done it, and it’s major. I guess this blog is just something for you to read when you feel as if you’ve made a huge mistake and are thinking about how much you miss life pre-baby. Because we have ALL felt that, even the unicorns who let their kids use glitter and meal prep. I have formatted it in list structure so when you get distracted by a crying baby or toddler you can book mark things easily.
- Everyone is winging it EVERYDAY. You know how I know this? It’s two fold. Firstly, kids and bubbas are flipping unpredictable so therefore we are by nature doing things unpredictably and on the fly. Secondly, I’m an odd enigma where I’m a super relaxed planner (?) and I have come to conclusion I probably still waste too much time planning. I’ll get on a good thing for like a week and then one of the kiddos decides ‘hmmm nah’ and then I have to rethink things. And that’s after two kids. So take it from me, we are all making it up as we go. And despite what Instagram tells you, there is no secret formula, only love and connection. If you have to pay for something to guarantee predictably, quit the app and go cuddle your baby or partner.
- Your perception of your mum skills is the version you will believe, but it should be the least trusted. Reflect on your mum abilities and take it with a grain of salt. I can pretty much guarantee everyone who loves you solidly believes you are doing a better job than you believe you are. Like anything in life, you are generally your own most meticulous critic, so have confidence that your babies think you are just so amazing even when you feel like crapola or aren’t ready to mix play doh colours yet (it will come, but be patient with yourself in the interim).
- Many mum life things can be fixed or at least eased with a hot drink of your choice and sunshine. Having a bad afternoon? Make a cup of tea and just sit in the sun for 20 mins minimum. Vitamin D is a severely underrated must in fresh postpartum. Get out there nude to give the vitamin D a real red hot crack of weather permits but just don’t spill the hot beveragino. The sun gives off gorgeously yum energy that your body needs and there are generally no obnoxious chores waiting for you outside. Be still and let the freshness wash over you.
- Don’t believe everything you hear or consume. Obvious. But we all need the constant reminder to keep ourselves and mum instincts guarded because social media is incessant. Big red flag energy is anything that says your baby ‘needs to learn to….’, generally anything that requires a cost in terms of advice, anything that separates mums from other mums (seen fervently within Facebook groups and communities), and anything that just feels ick/off/overwhelming/too much/stressy. Those feelings going off are warning signals from your internal mum instinct to stay away. If you need medical advice for your baby or tips for things like sleep, feeding, settling, there are so many free and reputable resources for you to access. Alternatively though, my first port of call would be to ask another trusted mum whose values align with yours!
- It gets easier. Many may disagree but I stand by this. Your baby grows. They grow more and more independent each day. To the point of one day they will leave home. They rely less on you each month and year that passes. Everything will settle. Everything will change. Everything is seasonal. New challenges will pop up, but for me, nothing yet in my 3.5 years of parenting two kids has ever matched the treacherous shift of becoming a mother for the first time, and learning fifty thousand new skills overnight.
- Don’t get caught up in what type of mum you are. Helicopter parent, tiger mum, free-range mum – we’ve all heard the names. It’s not anyones else’s business how we choose to parent our kids. Just parent the way that feels right. You might also find you have to pivot your style depending on the kid. Be loose and adaptive and don’t feel insecure about your way just because your friend parents differently. You do you boo. If people want to pigeon hole you then they need a hobby or a passion that enthralls them more than passing judgement on other mums. There are heaps of craft activities in Kmart at the moment. Speaking of which:
- Like vitamin D, Kmart also helps break the day up. Choosing a new mug for your nude cups of teas in the sun totally counts as an outing for babies. I feel like Kmart is also visually stimulating. Kmart is just like that bra we just feel at home in: it’s always there for you.
- Parenting was meant to be done within a village and we don’t have those in the western world and that’s basically why is feels impossible all the time. Yeah so parenting western style is actually faulty. By design, we’ve got things wrong here. So if you are scratching your head as to why you can’t pin point exactly why you’re feeling crumby but you definitely feel crumby, it’s probably because you need support.
- If you are feeling resentful towards your partner you adore, drop everything and communicate. Seriously you need to DEAC immediately if you even have a whiff of resent. Also don’t feel as if you guys are headed for doomsday if you do feel resentment sneak in. It’s hard not to resent your partner along the parenting line sometimes as you divide and conquer and struggle through sleep issues or just general issues where they may be an imbalance of roles or responsibilities. It happens, but it is usually because there has been a breakdown of communication surrounding needs prior. Resentment is warning signal that you both need to set intentional time aside to reassess how you both are feeling regarding parenting and your relationship, and also to brainstorm how you can make time for each other and how you can both help each other out to unite back as a team.
- Ask for help. I still suck at this (lolz) but I know the power it has when I do ask for help on the rare occasion. No one gets a prize for being a martyr, and no one gets pat on the back when their kids graduate for not asking for help. You’re not a bother. You’re not a hindrance. Even if you don’t know what you need, just uttering the simple words ‘I need help’ can spark a conversation that will be invaluable. Sometimes the person you are asking help from may be able to help you figure out what it is you need. Much of the time, you will need time, food, a minute, a night, a friend, a laugh, a coffee, or a wine. At the same time. In Dubai.
- No one is born a natural, not matter what Instagram or your mothers group depicts. There will be a moment when you see a fellow mum and just be amazed. You’re amazed at her ‘togetherness’ or her serenity as she is changing a nappy, latching her baby to her boob or rocking a baby on her trim hip while sipping a latte in a very on trend outfit. And then you will feel like an incapable potato who also needs to wash her hair, desperately. Mothering is a skill. Just like riding a bike, cooking, running, or playing the piano, you just get better at the more you do it. Not to say a consummate professional will have her crappy days, we all do and will: but stop the comparison game and run your own race. You have no idea what is going on beyond the squares, or once your friend gets into her car after playgroup. Make no assumptions about yourself or you fellow unicorn mummas, except for recognizing that we are part of one global village who all depend on one another. No one is good at parenting at the start, but through dependence and being thrown in the deep end, you learn quickly, and you become an expert at your own child or children.
I hope this helps and offers you something to come back to if you ever need the reassurance that you need to hear. If you are reading this blog, rest assured you always have people around you to rely on (and you can always rely on me because I always need to wash my hair and always need a coffee, like at all times).