I’m a D+ Mom. But That’s Alright.
This past Saturday, we went over to a friends house with the tot in tow, of course. At bath time, she started crying which turned into screaming which turned into the quite possibly the longest night of my life (barring her entry into the world). It was horrible. It was a cry I had never heard before and it went on and on and she was absolutely inconsolable. It took 4 grown ups, several (rejected) bottles of milk, pretty much empty boobs as soothers and all the songs we know to put her down. Like with all parenting horror shows, it finally came to and end. The next day when we came back home and she didn’t fight her naps, ate her food like a champ and went down immediately after bedtime without so much as a whimper. I had braced myself for horror but here we were with a sleeping child. I couldn’t believe it. (Turns out, she was teething. Go figure).
That Saturday had been an awful day for me. I had a cloud hanging over me all day and as usual, I was questioning if I was really the best parent for my daughter. For months, my internal struggle has been determining where my role as a mother begins and where my identity as myself ends. Any mother will tell you, it’s a tricky balance. When kids are young like mine is now, it’s even harder because you’re experiencing everything for the very first time and everything is incredibly hard. There have been nights when I have questioned it all. I have looked at my single, child-free friends with eternal envy because they are smart enough not to fall into this trap. This spiral can go on for days and when I am in it, nothing can bring me out of it. I convince myself I am the worst and I will never be a good enough.
Friends, my husband and several websites have told me that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I should chill out and enjoy her growing up even through the bad. But as a working mum, I schlep around enough guilt to fill up a house. I worry that my nanny will replace my role in my baby’s life. She can put her to sleep in two seconds but it takes me a blood sacrifice, a rain dance and squats with an 8 KG baby to put her down. You start to wonder, ‘Is it me?’.
So I had a pretty shit weekend that was the culmination of emotions over several months. As I type this I am still processing but I felt it was important to tell you – and to tell myself – that there’s nothing wrong with what you’re doing. As my husband likes to joke, ‘She’s still alive!’. I know first hand how debilitating the anxiety of being a new parent can be. I also know it will take away your joy. My work, my marriage and my ability to live in the present have suffered because I am worried about a future that may never come to pass or a present where I am literally doing everything I can but deciding it is still not enough. I don’t think my daughter will remember who changed her diaper or soothed her when she was teething. I might not be able to do everything for her now but I can take care of her the best way I know how and right now, that means relinquishing the idea of being ‘a good mum’. I actually don’t think there is such a thing. I think we have mums who bust their ass never considering if they’re good or not but that their children are happy. Sure, the guilt will probably never shake off but I can be better about telling those voices to buzz off.
If you’re a new mum or are about to be, I do not write this to scare you. I write this to tell you that whether your child eats organic fruit or has take out because you were too exhausted to make an actual meal – you are enough. I write this to tell you to treat yourself with a little compassion because no one else will do it for you. I write this to remind you that your baby will not take over your life even though it feels like it now. And most importantly, I write this to tell you that even though it seems really hard, to never stop being kind to yourself. Love your child the best way you know how. Resist the urge to snap at your partner for the 1000th time (although 1001 is allowed). Know when to step away and ask for help. Be a D+ mum but be the best goddamn D+ mum you can be. Quit trying so hard and just be. If you can remember that – if I can remember that – then I think we gon’ be alright.
I will leave you with something my husband told me – who will you be when all the ‘problems’ are gone? When she stops keeping you up, crying for no reason or running amok – who will you be?
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Love and light. xx