A letter to my best friend: Becoming a Mother
Today you told me that you are pregnant with your first baby. I have watched you want this for quite some time. When you told me I cried a lot, then I laughed a lot. Then I decided that as your best friend and mother to three, I should share some of the lessons I have learned thus far.
- You are embarking on the most difficult job that you will ever do. There are no pay rises, or high fives, day’s off or bonuses. Get used to taking payment in kisses and hugs and really bad art.
- From this moment on you will laugh harder and cry harder than you ever have before. That’s a good thing.
- Unborn baby does not share. She will quite happily take all she needs from you. So nourish yourself with good food and plenty of rest lest she leave you with nothing. Don’t judge her she’s just doing her job.
- In the early years you will receive advice from everyone. I mean EVERYONE. The bus driver, the shop keeper, the drunk in the park. Take the advice you like the sound of. Ignore the rest. As baby’s Mum, you know best.
- Say goodbye to the body you have. But don’t mourn it. The body she leaves you with is wiser, more womanly and trust me, more beautiful.
- Routine is all the rage. But it’s not for everyone. If baby doesn’t fancy eating one morning, no problem. If baby doesn’t want to take her afternoon nap, no problem. Chill the hell out about it and baby will follow.
- NEVER try and catch baby’s projectile vomit in your hands. It will haunt you for years.
- Look after yourself. Like really look after yourself. Without guilt. It’s very hard, almost impossible to do, but from my experience so far, it’s way easier to make good children if you are feeling good yourself. It makes sense.
- On that note, you will no doubt be inflicted with a nasty disease called “mother guilt”. I can tell you that it does nothing but damage. I have yet to find a cure but it is possible to lessen the symptoms by giving yourself a break and not constantly beating yourself up. Make your choices from a place of love and however it turns out, you’ll know that you meant well.
- Trust that everything is ok. Unless there is a gnarly ache in your gut. That’s your instinct. It’s usually right (with the exception of lesson No.11 and No.12).
- One day baby will begin to go off on her own adventures. One or both of you will have great huge teary tantrums about this. It’s ok, it gets easier. The ache remains, but your pride will grow.
- It took me years to work this one out. It’s not your job to stop your child from falling off her bike. That’s an impossible expectation. It’s your job to help her put on her helmet, give her a push and shout words of encouragement as she wobbles off into the distance. It’s your job to be there when she falls off, to dust her off, give her a hug and get her back on that bike. During her life of adventures she will get hurt and you will want to hold her tight and never let her go again. Don’t act on this instinct, let her go and and get bumped and scraped and heart broken, she will be a better human for it.
- Listen to her. If you can’t listen, ask her to wait. She won’t say it but inside she’ll be thankful.
- Resist the temptation to compare yourself to the other Mums. After extensive research I can confirm with confidence that we are all just winging it.
- Make rules and create boundaries. Then stick to them. Always. If the rules don’t work, change them. Trial and error is your new way of life.
- In about 12 years your little girl will be replaced by a monosyllabic pre-teen that smells a bit weird. Save yourself the bother of frantically searching for your missing child. Get to know the new version of her who is now in your home. Give her space, trust that this is normal. When that little girl you miss so much is frightened, or unsure, or tired she will pop back into your arms for cuddles. It’s all good.
- Try to know that you are going to be great. It will feel like there are right ways and wrong ways and that if you get too many “wrongs” you will have failed at motherhood. Trust me, you cannot fail, there is no finish line or prizes or stars for good work. Even on your worst of worst days, know that you have done your best. If you need a reminder, take a peek at her when she’s sound asleep one night. The sight of that snoring, beautiful, creative, curious child will blow your freaking mind. And you can say “I made that”. And it’ll be the most awesome feeling in the world.