You’ve landed yourself the most coveted job in the world. Your boss calls on you every hour of the day and night, doesn’t allow you lunch breaks, or even tea breaks, asks you to do things in a language you don’t understand, with increasingly frantic tones until you actually get what it is he is trying to tell you, but my god the perks are what you live for.
You’re a Mother.
If you are facing the interview for the job (the birth) you may need to keep in mind a few mantras to help you with your on the job training over the next few months.
Sharpen your pencils…
1. Relinquish your desire to be the perfect parent.
You’ve read the books, you’ve seen the televisions shows, you look at mothers with babies and as you stroke your bump with pride throughout your pregnancy, the thought of what kind of parent you will be is also born. Then your baby is born. And reality kicks in. Lets get this straight. All you really need to do is love your child.
Relinquish your need for a clean house. Relinquish the need for your child to be dressed in the cutest outfits every day—they will be covered in dribble and spit-up and crapped up the back of—so buy second-hand as much as you can. Relinquish that you will be the most stimulating, calm parent.
There will be days after sleepless nights when all you can do is carry your child in shell-shocked silence. There will be days when you want to look at E-bay on your phone whilst your child is on his play-mat, and nights when you make the air blue in a very un-earth mother way because your baby has woken up for the third time in three hours demanding food. Its okay to look and feel like a basket-case sometimes. All new parents do. Even the ones who look perfectly put-together at the mum and babies groups. They’re just better at faking it.
We are human. All your child needs to feel is that love. Imperfect, fumbling, relentless, human love.
2. You will really feel the yin and yang of life more than ever before.
Before your child came into your life, maybe you saw one or two beautiful sunrises, felt the fingertips of the beauty of creation upon you as you witnessed some beautiful vistas and marveled at some endless, breath-taking skies. But now, within you resides a love so powerful that it feels as if you are trying to fit the whole sky through the eye of a needle.
A love so powerful that your normal rational self is replaced with a she-wolf who is willing to give every drop of life to the miniature person whose tiny fists cling to you. At other times you are a banshee that wails in despair when your child won’t sleep/won’t stop crying/ doesn’t eat as often as you want. The world is now white. The world is now black. And because of that, the world is now in perfect balance. Gone is the grey. Gone is the small stuff. Life is more genuine, more authentic than ever before.
Life is in the Now. Life is real. And all is filled with a Love so large, it will take a lifetime to breath in.
3. No-one knows your baby like you do.
You watch on as the Grandmother expertly rocks your baby into passivity, then squirm inside as she doles out advice on the best sleep practice. You wonder ‘Does she know best because my child just became calm in her arms and not mine?’ No one, no matter how many babies they have brought into the world, no matter how long they themselves have been mothers, has lived for nine months with your baby in their womb, has walked the floorboards in the darkest nights with your child, has seen their first smile, changed their first nappy and seen them enter the world spluttering and perfect.
You are perfect for your baby. Your baby is perfect for you. You are the expert but also the beginner. Allow yourself be a beginner. The beginners mind is beautiful because it is open. Don’t firm it up too soon with rules and certainties that will only make you brittle and closed to the little wisdoms you will learn every day. Generations change. Parenting methods change. Your baby will change too. Shifting each day, dynamically expressing their unique soul. What worked one day, may not work the next.
So be elastic, be perfect, be a beginner, and build your own perfect beginners wisdom.
4. Find your kin.
Before you had a child, you may have rolled your eyes at the mothers who only talked about babies. Now you become a mother and you realize what a trip it is. How you need to talk about babies to learn, and how you crave others around you who can relate. Friends who were based on work or partying or gossip may drop away like a relic from a time when you still had time to waste.
You’re still who you always were, but have also become something quite new and unexpectedly changed as a result. You are at once the chrysalis and the butterfly, learning how to be but already floppily flying in the ever-changing wind.
It can be lonely, very lonely, straddling the tight-rope between the two ‘yous’ who are still very much inside you. Every mother feels like this. So reach out and find each other. If there are no groups around you, set up your own. Society is very good at isolating mothers, but the world is made of mothers. Do a little digging and you will find each other.
5. Great Father time.
Soon, this will all pass. The sleepless nights, the feeding too much or feeding too little, the inexplicable crying. This time is fleeting, unprecedented, precious, rare, scary, frustrating, once-in-a-lifetime, endless and gone in a second. Drink it in.
6. You’re not a superhero.
Spiderman never got spit-up on his spideysuit. Superman sure as hell never had to use nipple cream to ease his sore nipples. Batman didn’t get peed on whilst changing nappy. Superheroes are in fantasy-land.
You may not be a superhero, but you are a hero. A real, bonafide hero. Every time your baby smiles at you, you’re a hero. Every time you quiet their cries, you’re a hero. Every time you get through the day on 3 hours sleep, you’re a hero. Every time your baby reaches out to you because you are their home, you’re a hero. Every sloppy, sleep-deprived, milk-stained moment you are heroic. You are your babies hero. You are a Mother.
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Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson / Ed: Bryonie Wise