A new World Mama on the blog today! I would love for you to meet Christine, from …… She is one of the most honest moms I have had the honor of featuring here. And for that reason I love her and admire her. She has a beautiful daughter, Elin (1,5). But when people asked her how she was doing, with a newborn, her answer was that she felt trapped by motherhood. “I would be unable to stop myself telling the truth, spewing word vomit left, right and centre. That it wasn’t butterflies and rainbows and that I was struggling. ‘It’s worth it though… isn’t it?’, they would ask.” Christines answer was “no, it’s not”.
“It’s so worth it though, isn’t it?”
Last year, inevitably, most conversations I would have with other Mums about raising a tiny human ended this way. It would start with them asking how I was doing with the new baby and I would be unable to stop myself telling the truth, spewing word vomit left, right and centre, that it wasn’t butterflies and rainbows and that I was struggling. “It’s worth it though… isn’t it?” They would respond, almost conspiratorially, like we were in on a wonderful secret that the rest of the world was yet to uncover.
Of course there were some good days. But most of the time, I felt like I couldn’t agree.
I felt like I had uncovered the real secret, that bringing a baby into your world (and make no mistake, it is your world they are coming into- the world out there keeps spinning like nothing ever happened, trust me) is harder than I could have ever fathomed. I’d never cried more in my entire life and that I was pretty sure motherhood was designed to kill me. That it was war against feminism. I had no idea who I was anymore, and that that was the real secret. Only, I was getting the impression that you’re not meant to say that, I assumed, because no one had bothered to mention it to me before. Also, it’s not really beneficial to the human race continuing.
I felt trapped by motherhood, mentally and physically. And it felt like nobody understood how I really felt. I would have conversations with people and try to explain how I was feeling but the look in their eyes told me that at best, they didn’t really get it. This made me feel lonely. And at worst, I felt they judged me, which made me feel worse.
I missed my friends. I lived for hanging out with my friends, they were (are, I still hope) my oxygen. We could do everything and nothing together and still have the best time. Offers for socialising really dwindled and that really hurt. It still hurts, actually. Nothing like the sobering realisation that it is you putting in all the effort. That you thought you stepped off the train, only for a minute, just to catch your breath, sure that they would wait for you, and they have gone on to the next stop without you.
I missed my freedom. I longed to pick up my phone and keys and head out the door (to the gym, to a coffee date, to the beach, to the shops, to see a friend, to go for a walk, just OUT and carefree like I used to do) without a second thought. Without the pressure of knowing I can only be half an hour, maybe an hour, tops, because a little person really needed me. And without the crushing guilt of “Why do you feel the need to get away anyway? This is your life now”. I missed doing things I loved. I just couldn’t really do them anymore. I missed the girl that did things that fed her soul.
I REALLY missed my husband [whilst simultaneously spending 80% of my time being mad at him for having the nerve to carry on with his life]. For me, I felt a niggling, festering, throbbing injustice that whilst I had literally sacrificed mind, body and soul for this baby and my life was feeling a little on the ransacked side, my husband was able to pick up right where he left off. In fact, he didn’t even miss one cricket match.
I could never have imagined the toll having a baby has on a marriage, even one built on solid rock. Lots of words got said, raining down on both us, when inside my heart just cried to be Greg and Christine again, who go running and exploring together, who love and laugh together instead of battening down the hatches for yet another argument.
I felt like I was failing, I couldn’t handle that. I never tried anything before that I knew I wouldn’t succeed at. Mothering frustrated and confused me and it didn’t seem to take much. My friends with new babies were naturals, even on very little sleep, they were graceful, intuitive, courageous and brave. And happy. So blissfully happy. I felt anxious and down. Often. About a lot of things, most that were out of my control. Some that were not. But all felt painful.
So no. Feeling this way and, often through tears, dealing with an unsettled baby didn’t feel worth it at all to me.
Some people would say how ungrateful it is to have felt this way. That thousands of people long to be parents and never get to be. Of course I am grateful. I am also human and I believe it is possible to feel this way and still love your child. Feeling so down was never really about her anyway. It was about me.
Fast forward a year and a half. I’ve learnt and I’ve grown. I’ve pruned and I’ve evolved. I eventually found some balance, got it together, learnt to love a new way of doing life as a couple with a baby. I took the long way around the mountain and have the scars to show it. I get it now.
Our little person is our heart and soul. The joy she brings us just by being her is something words can only tarnish, it’s joy that warms me from the inside out. I used to say there needs to be a new word for “hard” when it comes to a new baby. Now I believe we need a new word for what it feels like to have a little soul come into your world and set it alight with the brilliance that is her. Motherhood. It’s hard. Heartbreaking. Lonely. Exhausting. Isolating. Challenging. Changing.
“But it’s worth it, isn’t it?”
You Elin Stevie, with your beauty and your brilliance and your curiosity and your charisma, and your passion and your delight, are worth anything.
You can follow Christine and Elin on Instagram.