(But Don't know How to Say It)
1. Our new mother self-esteem can be a fragile thing, our confidence just a veneer.
We've been bombarded with perfect images of motherhood on the screen and in the pages of magazines for years before now. This makes our expectations of ourselves, and maybe your expectations of us, impossible to live up to.
Motherhood feels like a big gig, so we're ‘faking it till we make it’. And sometimes not sure that we will.
Because there's no yardstick for ‘successful parenting’. No measure of performance like salary raises or work bonuses. Nobody gives you a bottle of champagne for superior nappy changing.
We looked to our bosses, co-workers or friends to feel good about ourselves before.
Now, it’s pretty much only you.
We need your your appreciation and encouragement. You might need to let us know you want the same from us too.
2. We’re learning.
Some of us bought into the myth that motherhood would be instinctive. And yes, maybe some things are, but other things are a steep, steep learning curve – and we're feeling some performance anxiety.
Some things we thought would come naturally are taking longer than expected. Sometimes the responsibilities of looking after our little person can weigh heavy on us. We worry. That’s why we’re snappy sometimes.
Share the responsibilities so it’s not just on our shoulders. We'll appreciate you for that.
Please be curious, wonder what it’s like for us, ask us how we're going and just listen if you don’t know what to say. Parenthood is not a series of problems to be solved; it’s a journey for us to share. Let’s take the pressure off, experiment, make mistakes, stuff things up, forgive each other and laugh over it together at the end of the day.
Oh, and remind us to ask how you're going, you're learning too, we forget that.
3. Our lack of interest in sex isn’t personal. Really.
We’ve been covered in sticky body fluids or mashed vegetables all day, we’re ‘touched out’ from an overdose of skin and being clutched, pulled and scratched (wow, those little fingernails can hurt!)
After a long day of giving out, giving out, giving out, sex can feel like an unreasonable demand on an already exhausted body.
What we really, really, really need is some “getting”. Time to ourselves, a bath run or some vacuuming done. No-strings-attached affection - your arms around us so we can finally relax.
And a foot rub. We really need a foot rub.
We need to know you care and love us and still think we’re beautiful even though we’ve got baby spit caked in our hair.
Keep gifting us this and our tanks will fill again and we will feel like giving back. Eventually we'll remember that sex means getting too. Because while resentment is a contraceptive, gratitude is an aphrodisiac...
4. We're worried about being judged.
By you, by our mother, by your mother, by other mothers, and yet – we judge ourselves most harshly.
Somewhere along the line we have bought into two big untruths. First - that we will love every single moment of being a mother, and second: that if we don’t, it means we don’t love our baby. Where the **** did that come from?
Because the truth is there's times we feel bored or lonely or frustrated or overwhelmed or disappointed, and then we feel guilty about it.
Other mothers don’t admit it, but we’re starting to suspect that most of them feel like this too. Wouldn't it be great if we could all just relax and talk about it?
We might make some new friends that way...
All this means we hold a lot of stuff inside. It sits there bubbling and churning like lava in a volcano – and because you’re the one around the most, you're likely to get it when we burst. We feel guilty about that too.
5. We expected that life would get back to normal, but it’s starting to dawn on us that it never will.
We expected to feel more in control, but we’re working out it’s the baby that’s going to be calling the shots from now on.
Some days we feel a caged.
On these days we feel envious that your life hasn’t changed as much ours.
We know this isn’t your fault, of course, but we don’t know what to do about it.
On those days we might be snappy as soon as you walk through the door, especially when you look so good in your still-clean suit.
Please understand that this isn't personal, although it must feel like it is. It’s just such a big adjustment for us – life after baby can be very different to life before – and every day and for the next 18 years is now becoming real.
We need regular time out just to be ourselves again. Just to be us and not "be a mother". That word carries so much responsibility, sometimes we need to leave it at the door. We need your support to do this.
These things can be hard to put into words and they take some getting used to. Nobody told us this was part of the full bloom of parenthood. We weren’t prepared that WE would have to grow in so many different ways along with our baby, with all the joys, the challenges, the adjustments and the changes, big and small, that they bring.
But we want to share it. All of it. With you.
What we want you to know most of all is that we need you to walk with us. Keep hold of our hand and put your arm around us, so we can create this new – and maybe even better – normal together.