Few assignments in life are so talked about and speculated about as the role of the mother.
There are a million truths and equally as many lies about what it is to be one.
I found, after having my first baby, that jeeze, people have been bull******** me all this time! I, for one, did not hear any violins or see butterflies in the air when I gave birth. I didn’t cry tears of joy and say to my hubby that I love him so much and that we have the most amazing baby ever and so on. Lord, I just cried because it was all OVER! Lol, that was my first encounter with this big “cover-up” of the real picture of motherhood. There were many more, for example, how mothers would just be so calm and collected, have time for a nice quiet cup of coffee in the sunshine in their back garden while the awesomely happy, quiet and adorable 2 week old baby was sleeping. Yah right! The real picture for me was a lot more chaotic. While the screaming, stomach-achy, unhappy 2 week old baby had fallen asleep from pure exhaustion, I was getting busy cleaning up all the mess I had made while trying to calm this screaming, stomach-achy, unhappy 2 week old baby, during which I was constantly nervous that he would wake up and cut short my much needed tidying up. After the cleaning (if I got to finish it, that is) I would try to answer all the 10 000 sms’s, emails and fb messages from friends and family who wanted to know how the calm and collected mother was doing, but more importantly how the baby was doing. The experience was one that I think most mothers (and absolutely fathers go through as well). There is so much learning to be done; learning how to feed this little one, learning his personality, learning about how to care for him, learning to live with the current state of your body and how to cope with the fact that your time was no longer yours. Oh, and on top that, those godawful hormone levels raging through our system! There is really nothing rosy about that time, in my opinion. The fun part, and where I absolutely hear violins playing and see butterflies in the air is when they are growing up; the first smile, the first sign of connection and interaction. When they start to grab stuff (and bring it to their mouth…grr….), the crawling, the first steps, and the realization you see in their eyes when they taste different types of foods. THOSE are the moments that I feel the way I thought a mother would feel from the very beginning.
It was clear that women were not telling the truth, or I was just a weird exception to this general rule, and I should seek some kind of help. It didn’t cross my mind to be honest, but I know for a lot of other mothers out there it does in the shape of depression and just shutting down. If we were just a little more honest in our everyday conversations, then maybe we wouldn’t feel so down about the situation, we would know what to expect and what not to expect. Tell eachother: “You know what, having kids is the most fantastic thing you will ever do, but it can be pretty fked up as well! There are days when you feel like you could imagine having another 10 babies, and then there are days when you just want to go and hide from everything and everyone. If you decide not to have kids, I strongly believe you may regret it, it’s of course not a must, but it’s a beautiful journey and well worth all the less attractive elements of it”.
Here follows a few motherhood quotes, which may or may not be true:
1) Motherhood is dynamic, and you won’t enjoy every part of it.
TRUE: Yep, very very true. The ups are a high and the most amazing moments of your life, and the lows make you feel like you want to hit your head into a brick wall, over and over again.
2) Asking for help is a sign of weakness
FALSE: Never, ever be scared of asking for help. I think the more mature you become as a mother you realize that you could have asked for help a lot earlier for more things. Just a small note for anyone out there wondering, I am not referring to “asking” the Dad for “help”, there is not such thing, as he is equally responsible.
3) Motherhood is portrayed correctly in commercials and advertisement
FALSE: Nothing really is the way it is in commercials and advertisements. They are made up to sell us whatever it is they are promoting, so they will give you a story or an image that facilitates that process.
4) If we invest in our own needs, desires and interests, we grow as mothers and partners
TRUE: This I think can be considered a general rule, even though that will mean many different things for different mothers. Some interests can intertwine with those of your children, so it becomes combined activities.
5) A mother who works outside the home, has less love and feels less responsible for her children
FALSE: Stigmatizing mothers who work away from home is as destructive as it’s opposite. We have a free choice in how we raise our children, and not every solution works for every family.
6) Being a mother (a parent) is the most important job in the world
TRUE: Remember, we are raising future generations. What we do today with and for our children, will have consequences for all eternity. Pretty rad, right??!
7) The moment a child is born, a mother is also born
TRUE: Though sometimes these instincts can take time to manifest, since you are distracted by so many other emotions and activities. Its slightly overwhelming, so it may take time for you to feel that way, but that’s absolutely fine!
8) It’s not about what you gave up to have a child, it’s what you gained from having one
TRUE: Always look on the bright side of things. I know that I am sometimes rambling on about honesty and how motherhood can be a crazy journey and very hard, but honesty is only going to make those days when you feel like that better! You will be prepared, won’t think there is anything wrong with you and have more confidence in handling the challenging situations because you knew they were coming. Information is power, people, motherhood is not different!
9) To the world you are a mother, but to your family you are everything
FALSE: Sounds pretty, but if we think about it, this is just what we are not looking to hear. We should not be considered the only person who matters in the family, the Dad should have equal importance and involvement. And to the rest of the world NO we are not only a mother, we are still women, friends, lovers, business partners and ravers (lol, I know I am), there is no need for us to bracket ourselves just because we put a baby into this world.
10) Always my mother, forever my friend
FALSE: Another one that sounds beautiful, but quite far from the real world. Yes, we should be there for our children and support, guide and love them. But while doing all those things, it’s quite tricky to also constantly be a friend, in its conventional sense. When they become older, have kids of their own, then perhaps, we can be friends on a more equal playing field, but when your kids are kids, you should be the adult and lead the way.
The myths and this “cover-up” may be there for us women to not back out last minute and re-think the whole idea of having kids, so in that sense it may be a question of the survival of human beings, but considering all other self-obstructive activities we get busy with here on earth (pollution, wars, poverty etc) I don’t think a little motherhood honesty would have any major impact. And for the Dad’s, I am not saying you guys are not going through stuff when your babies enter this world, it goes without saying that you do, but since I am a chick, it’s a bit hard for me to give a correct reflection of your story here. (Ladies, follow some Dad blogs out there, there are many good ones!)
Main thing is that we keep sharing and open up to eachother, in every way that we feel comfortable, in order to debunk all those myths and create new quotes and reflections on the many truths about Motherhood.