I thought I would be an ace in the hole having babies, being a mamma. I had three degrees, one of which in child psychology. I was a child and adolescent therapist. I’d worked with kids in clinics and hospital. I’d circled the globe traveling and lived and worked abroad. Moving to other countries? No big deal! Trekking in the Himalayas? Bring it.
I was never under the illusion that I’m a genius (believe me, I’m not), but I was confident that I could Figure Stuff Out. People have obviously been rearing kids since the dawn of time. How hard could it be?!
I had visions of tossing baby in the sling and off we’d go for leisurely afternoons at galleries and museums. I planned lazy, unplanned mornings drinking coffee and reading, and time to catch up on films. After all, what do babies do all day? Sleep. Eat. Poo. Rinse and repeat. Easy peasy. My biggest worry was being bored ...
Let’s just say that it didn’t exactly go down that way and I did not throw that cocktail party I had imagined I’d host two weeks after baby’s birth. Nothing prepared me for the primitive experience of childbirth. Or nursing (that is one tricky business!). I had no idea what sleep deprivation can do to a person. Small wonder it’s used as a form of torture.
I was brought to my knees by a gorgeous wee being who was only 7lb, 15oz (yes, ONE, and there was a time I had wished for TWINS! Mammas of twins, you AMAZE me).
I was shell-shocked. And I was shocked that I was shell-shocked. I was humbled. And I was saved, saved by a local parenting drop in center that had REAL women with REAL babies. These ladies let it all hang out (that is not a nursing reference). They let all of their anxieties and uncertainties and feelings of failure and overwhelm hang out. We offered each other compassion, commiseration, tips, and support. The staff was loving and laid back. They’d happily hold our babies and let us enjoy a cup of coffee (while it was still hot). Real pals, honest friends, will kibosh isolation and let you know none of us really have it all together. None of us really knows what the hell we’re doing in the beginning. We are all perfectly imperfect. I remember pushing the stroller one day, zombie like from lack of sleep, and my friend Philippa pulled up in her minivan to say hi. When I asked how she was doing, her answer provided refreshing reassurance that it’s OK to not be OK. In her delightful British accent à la Mary Poppins she chirped, “Oh it’s all bloody well awful, we’re heading home to order Chinese take-away. See you at the park tomorrow!” She made me smile and feel better about feeling crappy.
Step away from the insane standards of Pinterest. Pause the curated stories on Facebook. Drop out of the Competitive Mommy Games and spend some real live time with real girlfriends. They will save you. They will recharge you, allowing you the space and energy to once again, be awed by your fabulous baby and not lose your fabulous self in the process.
Tag: postpartum. Parenting. Friends. Support.