I'm sorry I haven’t written a blog in a while. Let's blame 2 people. My mum is one. She advised me that I ought to stop writing derogatory things about myself in my blog. Of course, she and I both know most of what I say in my blogs is just a caricature of my real life, but she's worried that you guys reading, don't. So, as a result, I dried up on what to write about – I mean, really, who can be arsed to think of a bunch of positive stuff to say about themselves or the world in general? Not I.
The second person is my writing teacher. Yes. I have one. I go to a group once a month or so and we discuss our current writing projects. She told me during our last meeting that she read my blogs, “despite the fact that she had no interest in the subject matter.” Initially I was a bit miffed by this. I spent a while wondering how I could make the blog more universal and not just about mum-related stuff. But, I've come to the conclusion I probably can't at the moment and i think that's okay for now. Btw, my writing teacher is a wonderful and talented lady and I of course completely tuned out whilst she said she “enjoyed my blogs very much, despite not relating to the subject matter.” Such is my talent for soaking up constructive criticism (sorry mum, I know I said I wouldn’t put myself down).
So, anyway, I'm back and I have been thinking for a while that I would write about the myths of motherhood and what, in my experience, actually happened to me after the arrival of my daughter 16 months ago. I used to worry a lot about what things would be like if I took the leap and had a baby. Then, during my pregnancy I was of course subjected to lots of teasing about the pitfalls of parenthood, by those that already had kids. At this point, you've pulled the pin out of the grenade and it's just a waiting game, so clearly, I loved hearing about all the terrible things that were just months away from happening to me.....NOT.
I'm not going to discuss the medical stuff here btw, because that is different for everyone and frankly you don't need to hear about it. I will just say, I had all the drugs available during labour and it really wasn't that bad.
Anyway, as regards of the rest of the usual “motherhood myths” here are my top five, and remember these are just in my own personal experience. Just so you know, I'm constantly being told how “lucky” I am that my daughter is so good and well behaved. Nothing to do with our parenting you see, just luck..... GRRR!!
Myth 1 Your social life is over.
Answer – incorrect
My experience: Your social life is different. Your friends still want to see you and you still need to be the same person you were before becoming a mum. My social life has slowed down due to lack of money, but things will come round again and my friends – who I see roughly once a month for a glass of wine and a chat – will still be there. Meantime, you do other, cheaper, daytime stuff, or email/facebook and text each other instead. If a friend drops you during this time, they were NOT your friend anyway. Plus I've made five or six new really good friends as a result of playgroups and ante natal classes.
Myth 2: The relationship with your partner will be strained and all the physical stuff is a thing of the past.
Answer – incorrect
My experience: Its a lot more complicated than before. You are basically working together to bring up this little person. You need to agree on loads of stuff about discipline, food, sleep, going out, new experiences and all that jazz. But if you've picked the right partner you'll already have very similar ideas on the subject. You are more tired and you have less time for each other but having a baby together is the most fantastic thing you can do with someone you love. It's like forming your own exclusive club. And as for the “other” – you just have to try a bit harder than before (excuse the pun), it's the same as being in a relationship long term really. Some women feel differently and lose their mo-jo a bit after a baby – the first few months make you feel a bit repellent to sex (lack of sleep, baby sick, nappies, yukky clothes, your body feels a bit funny etc), but there are things you can do about it. Do not worry about all that – I personally think its never a foregone conclusion that you will go off sex, unless you stop fancying your partner for some reason. Luckily this is not a problem for me :-)
Myth 3: You can't get washed and dressed or out the door before midday.
Answer: Depends, generally incorrect
My experience: It will depend on the person, but I'm fairly quick at getting ready. Add into the mix that you've got to feed, wash and dress your baby as well, it might take a bit longer. Particularly at first when you are still getting used to packing your baby bag or whatever. Give yourself time, it will become second nature after a few weeks and months. I still leave vital things at home and make mistakes in that dept, you'll get used to forgiving yourself about it. A friend will usually rescue you and you'll do the same for her another time. As a rule I usually get up at around 7ish, do housework, get something to eat and get ready and can be at a 9.30am playgroup no bother.
Myth 4: Your body will never be the same/you'll gain loads of weight and it'll never come off.
My experience: This one worried me – ALOT. I was already overweight and I'm a short arse, so I thought I would become this hideous short fat woman if I ever had a baby. However, I didn’t gain much during my pregnancy – just remember its not an excuse to go nuts and eat everything. When my daughter was born I was fortunate enough to breastfeed for a few weeks and that meant all my weight dropped off quickly (it burns loads of calories). As months have passed my stomach is slowly returning to normal. It wasn’t all that great to start with, so I'm fine with it now. If you moisturise a lot and don't eat your body weight in chips/chocolate/muffins during the pregnancy, you will probably be fine. If not, join the gym after you have the baby – it can be your “me time” activity. Lots of the women who I meet with babies have great figures and don't have this issue at all. We all worry about our stretch marks I think, but that’s because you have to compare yourself to the perfect bodies in the media – which is an issue for anyone who hasn't been air brushed!
Myth 5: You will never have time for yourself again.
My experience: If you have the right partner, a nice mum and dad and supportive in-laws like I do, you will get a break quite regularly. I still read books, have baths, do my nails, watch my favourite programmes etc. I find the days rush by and I have to cram in time to eat or sit down, because I'm playing with my daughter, going out or doing housework etc. Don't get me wrong, I do have days where I feel I haven’t had a minute to myself and I want to scream. Usually once the baby is in bed I take a drive somewhere and play the radio really loud. Which helps me. Overall I'm lucky, my baby is in a good routine – which was pretty easy to establish – and I have lots of support. I'm not afraid to ask for a break – it makes me a better mum if I'm relaxed and refreshed. If you don't have that support, think of how you can be closer to your family or make friends in your area, because it is vital to your general enjoyment of life!
So, those are my top five myths and my experience of them. Overall, I think your babies are only this reliant and dependant for a few years. Soon enough they won't want to walk on the same street as you, because you will be the most embarrassing person on the planet. When that happens you'll get all your freedom back and your social life will start full swing again. This time round without all the angst of your younger days.
So, if you are pregnant, new to motherhood/fatherhood or whoever you are, I hope you are enjoying it and remembering all the good things about it. I have been guilty of wishing it away, as much as anyone, but on days like this when my daughter naps for nearly 2 hours (bliss) and she's the funniest, most loving person I could ever wish to meet – then all the difficult stuff fades to total insignificance and I feel sincerely lucky. I have never achieved anything else in my life that has made me feel that way.