It’s a big week for us this week, because tomorrow we’ll be celebrating my eldest son Jack’s 10th birthday!
The day itself will end up becoming a birthday “festival” that stretches through until the weekend and will involve a sleep over with his best mate, copious amounts of cake and a Super Mario Bros chess set.
But amongst the presents and the excitement I will also be celebrating a small but significant milestone. The 27th February will also be my 10 Year Mumiversary – because it was on that days 10 years ago that I officially became a mother.
In that singular moment my whole life turned, completely and irrevocably. I still remember the feeling of vertigo as the possibilities of my new life opening up before me, while simultaneously the foundations of my old life fell away beneath my feet.
I was reminded of this feeling recently when I had a chat with a new Dad of my acquaintance. His little fella is 7 months old and after some polite enquiries about how things were going it quickly became apparent he was in “that place”.
And by that place I mean that sleep-deprived, mentally and physically exhausted place where you seriously question whether this reproducing thing was such a good idea.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s lots of awesome stuff in “that place”.
There’s joy, pride, wonder, and overwhelming love as you get to know the amazing little creature you’ve created. There are delicious baby cuddles, beaming gummy smiles and magical moments as they start to develop and discover the world.
But there’s also uncertainty. Different ideas about how things should be done. All you want is to do what’s “right” for your precious baby – if only someone could tell your poor addled brain exactly what that meant.
There’s less time, but suddenly 10 times more things that need to be done. Hobbies, individual interests and a social life don’t even get a look in.
There’s not much sex. Maybe not any sex.
And all this combined with a relentless, bonecrushing, forced-march-through-hell people like to call “sleep deprivation”. Such a civilised term – but as any new parent can tell you, extreme tiredness can turn you into a person you don’t even recognise.
And suddenly it feels like you might never have any fun ever again.
These feelings are somewhat acknowledged in parenting books and in the sympathetic grimaces of friends and family members who have been there before you.
They mean well. “Things will get better” they say or, “I’m sure he’ll sleep through the night soon”.
And you nod and smile and agree because you’ve been well brought up and it’s the right thing to do. Even if on the inside it feels like you’re being ripped apart by the sheer enormity of the change you’ve been through.
Oh yes indeed. I may not have been to “that place” for at least 4 years but it doesn’t take much for the memories to come flooding back.
It’s still hard to admit the less than rosy aspects of new parenthood.
The reactions you get can range from out and out horror to pity. But on the rare the occasions I found someone with whom I could be completely honest with about the shitty parts of having a baby, I remember the sheer relief of being able to admit that things weren’t sparkles and rainbows all the time.
So for anyone who’s ever struggled or felt bad becuase they weren’t ecstatic during every minute of their new motherhood experience I’ve put together a list of inappropriate thoughts that I had when I was in “that place”.
Then if you happen to agree with any of these you can nod, fist pump or holler “testify motherfucker!” in the privacy of your own home and know that someone has else has had them too. And the best part is that no jugdey-judgers will ever have to know!
1. “I am so BORED”
Many aspects of having a new baby are exciting and magical. We’ve covered that.
But some aspects of having a new baby are decidedly NOT exciting or magical. They are in fact boring, dull, repetitive, monotonous or unfulfilling.
Endless changing – of nappies, the babies clothes, your clothes, sheets, blankets.
Endless feeding – breast or bottle doesn’t really matter, in this context as they can both be pretty boring.
Endless worrying, soothing, burping and trying to get them to sleep ANY TIME THIS SIDE OF NEXT CENTURY.
It’s just endless really!
2. “I feel like every one in the whole world is having fun while I’ve been wearing the same vomity shirt for theb last 3 days”
The fairly average lives of your friends and family without children suddenly take on the sparkly lustre of an episode of “Revenge”.
Everyone is so much better dressed. Their hair is brushed. They go to parties, see foreign films and have stimulating conversations about politics over cups of single-origin espresso in laneway bars.
There is surprisingly little vomit and the only poo they have to deal with is their own.
Not much you can do about this one except to allow yourself to acknowledge that you miss that part of your life. It doesn’t mean you don’t want the life you’ve got – it’s just part of processing the massie change you’ve just been through.
3. “I am so sick of having the same conversation with every stranger at the shopping centre”
It got to the point where I just wanted to hang a sign around my neck with the folowing information on it
I have no idea how parents of multiple births manage – I imagine everyone asks all the above info and then tacks on “Were they IVF?” and “Do twins run in the family?”.
4. “Please don’t give advice as a punch in the mouth often offends”
Your Mum does it. And your Mother-in-law. Your aunty, a couple of your friends and the old lady in Woolies. Even the random guy in the newsagent has a crack at it too.
Advice is everywhere – some of it great, some of it awful, and some of it just plain nuts. You know that most of them mean well (especially female relatives) but sometimes you’d just like them the STFU so you can THINK! This is all about confidence and learning to trust your own judgement.
Like Rachel Hunter used to say in the old Pantene shampoo ads “It won’t happen overnight but it will happen”.
And I guess I’m proof of that because despite all my those inappropriate thoughts Jack and I have made it to the 10 year milestone.
So happy birthday to my lovely big boy. It’s a proud moment for both of us! ❤