BY Alice Grist
Before you have a baby everyone has a story to share or a warning to give. You take it all in, some of it you disregard, convinced it will be different for you. Other stuff no one tells you, and perhaps it’s best that way. A lot of the stuff about early momma-hood has a negative slant to it, focusing on how tiring and stressful it all is. However, I am currently feeling empowered on the momma train and so I want to share the stuff that has made me feel good. Feel free to log it in your brain or let it sieve through to nothingness. But for what it’s worth, here are my momma empowerment notes…..
1) The love. You know that love everyone tells you about when you meet your child… Imagine how it might feel then times it by, like a billion. I remember being earth shatteringly exhausted, up at 3am having just brought home my little girl. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and did I mention I was tired? In spite of all this I sat there singing her a lullaby and as I did so, I was sobbing with pure unmitigated joy. I held an angel in my arms and I’d never, ever been happier or more in love. It comes in waves, it gets stronger, it’s world altering. It makes you think differently about life, about people. The love is quite simply cosmic.
2) The physical stuff after birth is a shock to the system. I had no idea quite what I would have to deal with. It’s painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing occasionally. It ain’t sexy and most of it is unavoidable. But guess what… it doesn’t really matter. It goes away, I got better and I can hold my head high knowing that at this physical low, I continued to be the best mom I possibly could. I visited a whole new level of exhaustion and got through it, maybe even kicked its ass. Stitches and sore bits are nothing in the big scheme of my whole new life.
3) I did spend some time stressing beyond belief about what I am doing right or wrong. I read all the books and gave myself a complex about routines, plans, baby discipline or otherwise. I made a chart and some notes too, this didn’t help. Inevitably I was in a muddle. I freed myself from this when I decided to do what I wanted to do, what felt right for me. Since I decided to follow my intuition everything is easier. Baby and I are happier and we got some good stuff going on that we figured out on our own.
4) I realised that I know baby best. I am the momma. I am the sun and moon to my little one. What Ethel up the street thinks is irrelevant. And so what if someone has raised more kiddies than me, who says they got it right? Plus they never raised my kid and they never were me. I will make my own mistakes and own them, thank you very much. Since I empowered myself to this I am Wondermum… Well in my head I am and that confidence counts for everything.
5) I have entered the Mommy club, a previously closed circle that I neither knew or cared about particularly. It is however a fabulous little clique. People I don’t know well go out of their way to talk to me and it’s lovely, I’m making new friends. So far in my experience the club is kind, understanding and helpful. We don’t just talk dirty bums either, some grown up chatter ekes in too. A whole new side to women has opened up. It’s peculiar and unexpected but as a card carrying member I conclude that it is wonderful.
There is a Daddy club too, and as a Mummy I get a glimpse into that. I see how affected the fellas are by their little ones. Men ain’t ‘all the same’… some of them are wonderful Daddies!
6) When you have a child in your arms you see the softer side of everyone. I just spent the weekend at a festival and everyone was utterly gorgeous to me and my little one. Much like a cute puppy, babies bring out everyone’s mushy side. Again the world has shifted and I have a little glimpse of the best of humanity.
7) I have realised that everyone was once a baby like mine and therefore everyone is deserving of the love I feel for my kiddy. With mommy tinted glasses I understand why Mothers support their murderous children to the hilt and blindly defend the guilty. I see the purity of my child’s soul. It’s a beautiful thing.
8) There is no time to worry. All of my silly concerns have dropped aside. Baby is more important. If it ain’t already happened then no thought energy is given to it. As a result I’m far more relaxed and calm. Patience has become my new ally too. I’ve always struggled with this. But being patient is necessary for sanity when waiting for baby to fall asleep when there are a million other things I need to be doing.
9) Knowing that it won’t last forever helps me to live truly in the moment. On the days when it gets tough it’s empowering to remember that my child will change so quickly. So the vomit, the shit on clothes and drool in hair becomes so much more bearable, it’s all just a tiny part of a much bigger picture. I have learned to chill and reassess. This will all pass too quickly. Living in the moment is generally a hard thing to do, but now it’s easy, it’s essential. My child had brought me to a standstill where the minutiae is all that matters. I’ve never felt more here and now.
10) Every day is an adventure. I may wake up feeling exhausted, perhaps reluctant to throw myself into the now overly familiar melee of nappies and feeding etc. But then my baby does something amazing, like smiling, and my heart soars. Those first smiles are killer. They keep me going. They are my food, my air, my existence.