I was 38 when my daughter was born. Yes I started late. The truth is that until around the age of 36 I was adamant that I was never going to be a mother. It just didn’t fit into my plans and, quite honestly, didn’t appeal to me. And then life changed, as it does, and I had a change of heart. And now I’m a mom. And it’s great. Except when it’s not. Listen, I love my daughter more than anything in the entire world. Seriously so much it makes my heart hurt sometimes.She is an amazing little human being. But all that love doesn’t make a parent immune to sometimes thinking what the hell have I gotten myself into? The thing is, “they” don’t tell you how bloody hard it is. That as much as you prepare for it you are never really prepared. It’s time to come clean and debunk the myths of motherhood.
8 Myths of Motherhood
1. You will instantly bond with your baby
You might. Or you might not. I’m sure all expectant mothers read about that magical moment when the doctor lays that little bundle of joy, that little miracle you just brought into the world, on your chest and instantly there is this intense bond. It’s the stuff of fairy tails. It may not be your reality. And that is ok. It’s beyond ok. It’s completely normal. You’ve just gone through a very labouring (pun intended) experience. Your body is reeling. Your mind is reeling. You are exhausted and hormones are going crazy. It may not be this instant magical connection. It may take hours, days even weeks. But it will come and it will never go away.
2. Once you’ve given birth you have no shame
I hate this one. Yes there may have been more people in one day than in your whole lifetime until that point that got a close up look at your vagina (sorry I don’t use cutsie terms like lady parts). There may have been other things that came out of you besides a baby while you were delivering. It’s a messy endeavour. And there should not be an ounce of shame in that. It’s freakin amazing. But that experience doesn’t turn mothers into shameless animals that suddenly just return to the wild. Sure you may be less squeamish about certain things, which is good because you’ve got a long dirty road ahead as a parent, but you don’t suddenly become immune to grossness or just leave everything hanging out for the world to see. I think this idea of losing your shame should more appropriately be changed into the idea that you have a new found respect for the awesomeness of your body and what it is capable of.
3. Don’t worry, everything will just naturally come to you.
Yeah, no it doesn’t work that way. Sure some things might seem like the most natural thing in the world. Certainly we, as a species, have been doing this mothering thing for a long time so there around bound to be some instincts kicking around. But not everything is automatically hard wired into us. It’s a lot of trial and error. It’s a lot of asking for help. It’s a lot of WTF am I doing? You’ll get it. Eventually.
4. Your friends and family will be there for you.
Don’t count on it. And I know that sounds really negative but the truth is sometimes that’s how it goes. You may have a great support system of friends and/or family that are always close at hand to help out when you need it. Or you may not. Something I quickly discovered when I became a new mom – that sometimes experienced mothers have forgotten how hard those first days and weeks can be. I got a lot of “tough love” when I really wanted help or support. Of course not everyone was like that, thankfully, but it happened and it sucked. And sometimes it’s just as simple as they can’t drop everything to help you.
5. You will be a certain kind of mother.
No you won’t. I know you’ve got it all planned out. Your kid will never sleep with you. You will breastfeed until he is two. There will be no pacifiers. You will make every single thing that goes in your baby’s mouth from scratch. You’ve read all these books, and visited all these idealistic parenting blogs. You’ve got it all mapped out and this is how it’s going to be. Here’s the thing – all those books and articles you read, they weren’t about you. They weren’t about your baby. There is no way anyone can map out what your life with your child is going to be like because you are a unique combination that no expert has seen before. So be prepared to adjust and to not feel bad about that. PS my baby who was never going to sleep in our bed is now five and still crawls into bed with us in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t hate it.
6. All of your plans for the future will happen.
I’m not saying don’t have a plan. I’m not saying great things won’t happen. What I am saying is that things probably won’t go exactly as you planned. For instance, I planned to go back to work when my baby was around six months old. I was sure I would be ready. That she would be ready. Neither of us were. In the end I didn’t go back to the office until she was over a year. And yes I’m fortunate that I was in a position to do that.
7. You need to savour every moment because it goes by fast
No you don’t. You don’t need to savour cleaning up vomit or getting yelled at by your three year old (yes the terrifying threes are real). Parenting isn’t all one big joyous journey. You don’t have to love every moment of it. There will be times you are so exhausted, frustrated, scared that you wish the kid was grown up and out of the house already. In the end the good almost always outweighs the negative. And you will find joy in the simplest things. It just might not be every single day.
8. Being a mother will complete you.
Here’s the thing. You are, as long as you live, a work in progress. Completion implies that something is over. So how could becoming a mother complete you? It just doesn’t make any sense. Yes, it’s rewarding at times. It’s also lonely and scary at times. It is all those things and more. But it is not completion. When you become a mother you will gain some things and you will lose some things. This notion that being a mother completes you also implies that you are not complete if you are not a mother and we all know that’s just not true.