Dear New Mum,
It’s been a while since I wrote. I’m sorry for my silence. How are you doing?
I hope that today is a GOOD day. That you maybe got some sleep last night. If you didn’t, did you remember to be extra kind to yourself? Did you eat the cake? Did you watch the box set? Did you make a point of noticing something you did WELL?
It’s funny. This motherhood lark. Eight years ago, I joined the ranks. I was unprepared, overwhelmed and tried to control every little thing. I thought that as long as everything was in order, I would be ok. I would be a good mother. This worked on the days when everything went to plan. But often it didn’t. And actually, even when it did, the sheer fear of it falling apart left me feeling frazzled, confused and a bit low.
Eight years and three kids later and I am such a different mother. My third child has undoubtedly had the best of me. He’s so lucky. No Gina Ford for him. Just sleepovers in my bed. And understanding. And ice lollies for breakfast. Until recently, I thought that the years must have worn my parenting style down. That the third child must have worn me down. That my often chaotic, disorganised approach to life and parenting was born out of tiredness, laziness even and not wanting to fight too many battles. The other day, I realised this isn’t how it is at all. It’s not that I am chaotic or disorganised. It’s that I am able to choose what is important. What needs attending to. And what can wait. Basically? Everything can wait. Apart from my kids. Because these small people are growing up right under my nose, faster than I can bear. And I don’t want to miss any more moments than I already have. (Well, apart from the tantrumy moments. I could happily miss those.)
Finally, I have perspective. It’s all around me, every day. It’s in my eldest, almost 8 year old, who shows me how quick kids grow up. It’s in my middly who reminds me, just in case I forget. And it’s in my youngest, who has taught me to appreciate, rather than wish him (and the girls) away. Next year, my summer born boy will go to school. NEXT YEAR. There is no time to wish any of him away.
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s impossible to have this insight when you’re a new mum. Only time and experience can give it to us. But I want you to have just a little. If you can. Because I think it might help you when you feel like you’re drowning in those demanding early years. The hard moments can feel so long. So relentless. So endless. And they are. I haven’t forgotten. I see you, new mum. I do. You need so much physical energy. All the lifting alone. Of babies. Of buggies. Of SO MUCH STUFF. There’s always someone touching you. It feels as though there is no personal space.
Then, one day, almost overnight, your kids are at school. They come home from school and instead of hanging off of your leg, they go and play in their room. You have maybe 15 minutes to yourself before someone has hit someone else over the head with a gorilla (not a real one) and you have to intervene. You are not needed ALL OF THE TIME. And yet, you never ever saw this day coming. That your children would become less dependent on you in certain ways. How could they ever need you less? It just doesn’t seem possible when they are so new and pink and tiny. This perspective changes everything. Like when the toddler behaves illogically (again) and you find yourself smiling rather than despairing. Because you know this behaviour won’t last forever. It will pass. And turn into something else. Your almost eight year old is living proof of that. So is your five year old.
There is no time to wish any of them away.
(That said, please know that if you do find yourself wishing the days away, it’s perfectly normal and ok. Being a new mum is HARD but, one day, probably when you’re least expecting it, suddenly it will become easier. I am living proof of that.)
Much love to you AMAZING new mum.