Motherhood

New Parents: It Does Get Better

September 29, 2016
Happy Birthday hux

When it comes to the depiction of motherhood, Hollywood has a lot to answer for. Think about it: even in the dope-smoking world of the movie ‘Knocked Up’, once baby’s born (via a massively cringe-inducing crowning scene, natch) even the jobless deadbeat dad and uncertain mum film are projected into the world of starry-eyed parenting perfection.

Then there’s a bumbling uncertain Hugh Grant, who manages to become father of the year in Nine Months, and just look at how Sex and the City’s baby Brady transforms cold-hearted Miranda into a mother.

Basically, if the film and TV industry were to be believed, parenthood is one dreamy journey of love and light and laughter and a million other ‘L’ words that I can’t think of right now because I’m too damn sleep-deprived. Which is what happens when you’re a parent.

In all the movies and TV shows I’ve watched since becoming a mum myself I’ve not seen a whisper of the eyebags, a sniff of the piles or a hint of the sheer terror you feel when you think you might, at some point, drop the baby (spoiler: we all do it).

Hollywood’s version of parenting is perfection. And that’s just not how it happens.

Recently I’ve been mulling over how I feel in my role as a mum, six years down the line. It was a revelation to realise that I don’t have too much stomach-churning anxiety over motherhood any more, I don’t fret about whether or not I’m doing things the correct way and I no longer compare myself to other parents (that’s a fun wormhole to go down at 2am via the staged perfect family homes of the mum-robots on Instagram: Courtney Babyccino I’m looking at you).

And I wanted to say something to all the new – or maybe not-so-new – mums out there.

It does get better.

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When Elfie was put into my arms on 7th July 2010 I want to say it was the best feeling in the world ever. I would love to say it was the best day of my life, that nothing compares to the rush of love I felt in that moment as I held her and got to know her sweet little face and precious little fingers.

In reality, it was actually very scary. She was all gunky and grizzly and looked rather cross, and I remember thinking how much her screwed-up red face looked like an old man’s. I’d been sliced from hip-to-hip and stapled back together so wasn’t exactly feeling on top form, and with the multitude of drugs I’d been given to cope with the c-section I remember just wanting to take a massive nap. And then a shower. But I’d just had a baby and major abdominal surgery, so both of these things were off the table.

The love bit came later, of course it did. But in-between there were many fraught times of not really knowing what I was doing, of trying to work out what the hell baby-led weaning actually was, or wanting to cry with boredom at the hell of baby groups where you were expected to only talk about babies ALL. THE. SODDING. TIME. My life was my baby: I desperately wanted an escape back to a world where women were interested in something other than their own offspring.

first world problems

Elfie was a poorly baby, which didn’t help, but man alive the world of motherhood can feel so very foreign. As women we are expected to go from our satisfying and exciting careers and plunge straight in to a world that revolves around pleasing a person who’s smaller than your old desk drawer. A person who doesn’t say please or thank you, a person who doesn’t even speak yet expects you to fulfil their every whim, a person who doesn’t give you positive quarterly appraisals and definitely doesn’t pay you a salary for keeping you up half the night with bleeding nipples.

It’s terrifying, it’s exhausting, and when you’re inside that baby whirlwind it can feel like you’re very much not living up to the entirely unreal expectations of perfect Hollywood parenting.

But I’ve come to realise there is no right or wrong way to do it. Some people are born to mother and nurture, and others are born to learn how to mother and nurture. I’m the latter, and one thing I can say for motherhood is that it’s taught me immense lessons on how to be a better, more empathetic, kinder person. As much as I wonder whether having children so young was the right path to take, I know my life is entirely more positive and happier because of these lessons in life and love.

So yes, if you’re struggling with the fact you’re not that perfect parent you think you should be, please know that it does get better. You’ll find your groove, learn the acronyms (BLW! BM! CC! TTC! WTF!), find the confidence to decide what’s right for you and your baby. IT DOES GET BETTER. I promise.

Know that everyone else is struggling just as much as you are, and maybe stay away from any movies involving parenthood for, ooh, the next six years.

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13 Comments

  • Reply Slummy single mummy September 30, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Oh God, I feel bad now – I only knew one of those acronyms!! (The last one obvs). Does that make me a terrible mum?!

    • Reply alice September 30, 2016 at 11:52 am

      that makes you the BEST mum!!

      • Reply Slummy single mummy September 30, 2016 at 12:15 pm

        I just Googled them and I’m not sure I’m any the wiser with some – Toronto Transit Commission?! Does it count as BLW if I just let Belle stick her hand in a jar of Nutella at four months?

  • Reply Alison September 30, 2016 at 11:02 am

    I’m still learning, every day. But you’re right, it does get better and feels easier. Those early baby days were SO HARD.

    • Reply alice October 2, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      So so hard. I never ever expected it to be so hard. Mother nature, eh?

  • Reply Rachel September 30, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Totally agree, it does get better. Great post, Alice x

  • Reply Lottie | Oyster and Pearl September 30, 2016 at 5:57 pm

    I LOVE THIS POST! I wish I’d read something similar when I had my first back in 2007, I had no idea what to expect or what was about to hit me. Having kids is mental, isn’t it??

    • Reply alice October 2, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      it is literally THE mental thing. But I suppose if a film was made about how crazy it all is everyone would run traumatised from the cinemas…

  • Reply Aileen ONeill October 1, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    This all rings so true for me. If you asked me at 29/30 if I wanted kids, I was a resolute no (“Are you bonkers?! Why on earth would I?!”) Now, fast forward to 8 and a bit years later here I am with two little-ees (planned I might add) and one more due in 4 weeks. Am I happy? 100% yes…but I also have horrid days (and perfect parenting snapshots on Instagram doesn’t help) where I feel woefully inadequate. I also know that I am a better Mum because I do work and have a fulfilling life outside of the kids, who can be all consuming. So number 3 is all but here, the next year WILL be hard. This time round I know I will handle it and every stage does pass.

    • Reply alice October 2, 2016 at 11:14 pm

      Argh, that inadequacy! I think it must hit us all, only we don’t talk about it as much as we should. And yes, I’m with you, fulfilling life outside of the kids – it’s needed. Congratulations on number three!!

  • Reply Joy October 3, 2016 at 2:14 am

    I don’t think there’s a perfect Mum but we all get better every day. Raising kids is as challenging and fun as it should.

  • Reply Gcroft October 8, 2016 at 8:34 am

    Thanks for sharing. I’m in the latter category, a mum who is still awkwardly navigating motherhood. My LO is 4 next month. Looking back, there are so many things I’d do differently when she was a newborn. Top of the list – not to be so hard on myself for being clueless ????

    • Reply alice October 12, 2016 at 10:24 am

      That is a GREAT point to have top of your list. We’re always so hard on ourselves!

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