Insights from a new Mom; what she believed would happen when her daughter entered into this world and what has really happened so far.
I wish that I could tell my daughter everything that I have learned over the past 37 years; but would this not rob her of her own adventures? Her opportunity to learn about life in her own way.
Motherhood. How do I put it into words? My heart swelled up to five time its size when I first heard her. Saw her. Held her in my arms. It was in that order. And my life would never again be the same. I wouldn’t want it to be.
In fact. Your life as you know it (how you see it and feel it) is snatched from your mind and replaced with a version if life, akin to playing a computer game you’ve never played. Or a sport for which you don’t know the rules. However in this game; the players are real. The players are the people you care most about. The stakes are high.
My daughter and I do everything together. Eat, sleep, laugh, cry. And breathe.
I listen to her every breath as she rests upon my chest. It’s her favourite place it seems. Her cry fills me with utter dread and sadness. But I can’t show her that this is the case. Although many times I have cried as she has peacefully slept on my chest. For no apparent reason other than I realise that how much I love her. And that I will do forever.
When I am alone with her (the first time was in the hospital just after I had her), I am totally overwhelmed by the responsibility that has been bestowed upon me. But more importantly, by her beauty and charm. She has so much more of this than I ever will. And she is only 12 weeks old.
Got to ‘parent and baby classes’ they say. Read books, they say. You’ll need your mum to help, they say. But this, buy that. You do ‘need’ those things.
But the thing you need more than anything, is the ability to trust and listen to your intuition.
My daughter knew what to do. From the moment I knew I was pregnant. I listened to her. And it worked. She knew how to survive, and I followed her lead. When she was in my tummy, I ate what I craved. I responded to her movements. I had no expectations of pregnancy and of being a mother. And so far it has helped me.
People asked me ‘will you breastfeed?’. Or worse “You SHOULD breastfeed’. I answered always ‘I am not going to decided until she is born’. How wrong was I. When she was born, SHE decided. And I followed.
As an academic and someone to writes for a living, I often wonder how I can write and be true to myself at the same time. Being a mother forces you to face up to your true self. Something I thought I’d done already. It turns out I had, which is why I am able to face up to my true self now. If that makes any sense?
Happiness is learned, I find. Not found. And I learned this through my daughter.
I realise how much I love what I do, and that what I do is not a ‘job’. I may be on maternity leave, but I often think about my writing and how I can use my new identity so-to-speak, to communicate my ideas in a different way. People often ask when am I going back to work. But the truth is, I never really left. I’ve been working in a different way, and my writing has always been on my mind. My work is my soul, and my writing is its voice. Without this I am nothing.
I am in fact more productive now. I snatch those 10 minutes a day when the sun is barely up and my baby is sleeping soundly, for how long I don’t know. Her cries for milk are not far away. My cup of tea often goes cold when I have no time to drink it. I write quickly and in haste. But it’s a new kind of pleasure and it’s for me. And for her, of course. One day I would love her to read this. But she must have her adventures first. I will always let her guide me, not the other way around.
When she has her first fall I will be there, and she will, no doubt fall. But she will get up and laugh again. She has taught me so much already in her short life. She has taught me to put myself aside for someone else’s needs, and to trust myself to make the biggest decisions I have ever made. She has also taught me to for the first time in my life, to follow another person. It is her survival that she is ensuring so this would make sense to me.
I have no idea what the next 12 weeks will bring. But I know I will laugh. And cry. And my daughter will lead the way. We are doing this together I say to her. We always have been.
Heres to the next 12 weeks of being a mother….and learning from my daughter