Recently my sister shared a post on social media, a clip from a documentary. The programme included the real life stories of a few women, but the whole point was to highlight the loneliness that a new mother can feel and how we as society do not make women aware that this is a serious issue, and that it can make women feel as though they have Post Natal Depression, but can also lead to and cause PND as well. I watched this post increase in likes and found it absolutely intriguing that out of the 7 people who liked the post in a matter of two or three hours 6 of those had young children and/or babies… I loved the caption about how “it’s difficult to love yourself when you’re giving so much.”
It is, I would completely agree and while I’m no parenting expert, I am an Emily and Ava Rose expert. While I agree it is hard in these circumstances to love yourself too, I also firmly believe that you cannot fully love someone else unless you are the best possible ‘you’, that you can be.
It’s simple really, almost 25 thousand people shared the original post, who knows how many it reached, this tells me only one thing, all mothers are in the same boat, and without a paddle…
Do you know what that paddle is? Honesty, brute and frank conversation with other mothers (and dads, cause they can feel it too). Honest conversation with family.
There was another lady featured in this programme and she said about having bad days but putting a picture of her kid’s one smiley face of the day on Facebook because you ‘can’t look to be struggling’.
There is our problem. We fear sinking so we pretend it’s great, but the reality is parenting is like white water rafting, one minute your jumping in willingly and sailing down a river in a Raft (Glorified dingy if you ask me) and the next thing you’re flying through a rapid of emotions wondering can I get off, but enjoying the moments of thrill so much that you remember you don’t want to leave. It’s the rope that holds us in, the giggle, gurgles, first words, school runs, it’s all of those special moments and yet, we may as well throw our life jackets in the water when we start pretending all is ok when we are swallowing too much water and are struggling to breathe.
Just like White Water Rafting I believe there are rules to parenting that we forget all to often.
Choose a licensed and professional rafting outfitter… Of course where children are concerned we all go in to parenting willingly awaiting this bundle of cuddles, but none of us actually know what is going to hit us when the little one arrives.. in my 6 years of looking after two little people, my advice is simple: Find someone who has been in your position and glean from their knowledge. Sit with them, talk to them, hear what they say! Actually listen! They have been through sleepless nights that last forever (OK for most of us a year but that year is longer than the last month of pregnancy, or at least feels that way). Just as though you wouldn’t raft without asking for help, don’t think parenting is a one man band. It isn’t, ask people who have been there and know that everything is only a phase.
Always wear a life Jacket or floatation device… know your limits… You cannot walk on water, you cannot parent on your own… a life jacket in Parenting terms is as simple as the wisest comment I have ever heard. It takes a village to raise a child! Take hold of your village and allow them to assist you.. do not throw yourself to the water by refusing help, refusing to admit you need a moment to breath, your hair needs dyed or your washing has piled higher than your kitchen table, and someone needs to mind the toddler… It is OK to rely on your village.
Be Safe and Comfortable… Parenting is not neglecting you… no, no, no. On the contrary Parenting is the one job in which you must also come first. There is no room for ‘the baby needs and I must do without’. Yes the baby must be safe, warm, fed, and protected but you must also be safe, warm, fed, and protected. You must have adequate meals; rest and time to be you, for if you don’t you run the risk of burning out, which can cause multiple health issues both physically and mentally! Let’s be honest ladies we all deny it, but it makes perfect sense you will miss out on so much, and so will you baby if you don’t remember that while you are mother, you are also you!
Stay in the boat… Common sense really, or so you would think… how many times I have come across bumps in the road of my life and the feeling of running or swimming away has seemed like the best of options. I can assure you it isn’t. While it takes a village to raise a child, at the end of the day your baby needs you., and not any form of you, they need you at your highest game. They want your cuddles, your kisses, your attention. Every one else is great for a while but know this they will always want mammy when they get a cut, or when they have an exciting story to tell, at the end of the day you, you and you alone are their person. Be There, Be in the moment, Be in the Boat!
Never Panic… When does panicking help anyone? Really though, when? It doesn’t. Rationale can be hard at times, it can be tough, but it is the best mode of action when the dinner is burning down the house, the cat has been run over, the baby has cried all day, and you’ve just spilled the only cup of coffee you have managed to have all day down your favourite PJ’s. Take a second and evaluate the situation. Come at it clear headed and the resolve will take much less time.
The above is a short list as to how you can live your life while surviving the world of motherhood. The original Facebook post that I mentioned just reminds me so much that we are all in this life raft together, no one has it all sorted out, so ladies stop comparing, stop living your life comparing someone else’s Facebook life to your real life. We all do it; we all put our best on social media, why? Usually the answer is because none of us want to air our dirty laundry for the world to see. You and your baby are not the same as your friend and theirs, let them paddle in the quiet and acknowledge when you are swimming back to the boat after a heck of a sleepless week… because the truth is; we’ve all been there, and we all will be there again!
**This documentary can be found on channel4news.com should you wish to view it all **