One of the most wonderful things about modern motherhood is all the information available to us about the realities of being a mum… The sleep deprivation that makes your eyes ache, the changes to your body, the earsplitting tantrums; they’re all being discussed by mothers on the internet, helping you realise that you’re not alone.
In my early days of motherhood it was those stories, shared primarily on blogs, that helped normalise my experience, reassuring me that it was all part of the experience. But recently, now that my son is a little older, I’ve found myself wondering whether all these candid comments are focusing too much on the negative aspects of parenthood.
We hear about the traumatic deliveries, the reflux, the exhaustion, that ‘Groundhog Day’ feeling. Sure, being a mum is no Huggies ad, but why do we so often leave the wonderful, beautiful parts out of our narratives?
I suffered from postnatal psychosis after the birth of my son, which meant that my initiation into motherhood was scary at times. But even within the nightmare of this illness, there were – and are – moments of beauty, fun and awe.
As I recover, it’s those moments I’m seeking more of – and am sharing with other mums.
Here are a few of the things that I think make motherhood pretty special
The chance it gives you to rediscover the joy of play, of slippery slides, seesaws and sandpits. To relish, for example, the simple delight of soaring above the park on a swing with a giggling child snug in your lap.
The feeling you get when you look at your baby and think “I made you.” (With a little help, of course!)
The opportunity to revisit old favourite stories and authors: Possum Magic, Spot, the works of AA Milne and Dr. Seuss. These are wonderful experiences of the familiarity of words from your childhood, and also the fun of discovering new favourites together.
The sun-drenched pram walks around the neighbourhood because you’ve tried everything else to get your baby to sleep, and the crying sounds quieter outside. The sky is so blue it doesn’t seem real, and you have nowhere to be but in that moment.
Having a built-in stand-up comedian in the house. The made-up toddler words; the unique but very specific fashion choices; the nonsensical jokes. The epic tantrums that can be so tough and exhausting but also hilariously funny at times, and rich in their potential to teach feelings and build attachment.
The idiosyncratic smell of your own child. It’s something you can’t really describe, but it’s there. And it’s heavenly. The way you learn to savour things you long took for granted: spontaneity, showers, sleep.
Finishing your coffee in its entirety. These simple things become some of life’s little pleasures, and you cherish them. And they replenish you.
The rare opportunity you’re given to see the world through the eyes of a child once again: their delight in the moon, in flowers growing by the side of the road, in odd shaped rocks and plain spaghetti. It’s just the way children pull magic and joy from the strangest places and you can’t help but be enchanted by it, too.
How having a baby makes you feel part of the community. People are kinder; elderly ladies stop to have a chat and to reminisce. You naturally fall into conversations with other parents in lifts and in the park. You get to know people in the supermarket, the bank, and at the café where the barista sneaks your little one marshmallows. Now it seems you belong to something bigger.
The fierce pride you feel in your child’s small accomplishments; the first smile, crawling, walking. The way their vocabulary explodes and you hear snippets of yourself in their sweet new language. The recognition of you and your husband in their developing personality – but also how unique they are.
The way you’ve suddenly got a new identity; you’re someone’s mum. It feels strange at first, like you’re trying on your own mother’s clothes. And sometimes, this new identity swamps you, overwhelms you, and you feel like you’re disappearing within in. Until you realise it’s part of who you are, not all of you. And you wear it proudly, like a precious brooch.
When you realise how much you’re capable of! You can skillfully push a pram while carrying a takeaway coffee, that you can change a nappy anywhere and everywhere, you can cook a meal that your child actually likes, and settle your friend’s newborn to sleep with practiced actions. You think “I am totally nailing this motherhood thing.” At last.
The way children bring a rush of love into your life. It’s a love that radiates and spreads from your new little family to their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. A love that grows and deepens and shocks you at times with its intensity.
And more. So much more.
What do you love about being a mum?
By Ariane Beeston
Have you joined Mama Tribe yet? SIGN UP HERE