What would you tell your pre-kids self if you had a moment with her?
Gosh, where do you start? These simple words come to mind…
I mean, we knew it wouldn’t be easy. But did you know it would be this hard? Could anything have prepared you for this?
For when you are barely out of bed in the early hours of the morning and they are already (what feels like) slapping you in the face with their big emotions. The sun is barely up and your eyes are barely open and all you can think is ‘is this seriously how we are starting our day?’
The tiredness. The kind of tiredness you feel with your entire aching body. Your eyes are heavy and your bones ache as you long for sleep in the darkest hours of the night or the longest part of the afternoon. Coffee doesn’t even touch the sides and tired just feels like the new norm now.
The guilt. Guilt for working and missing precious time with them. Or maybe guilt for not working and relying solely on your partner to make ends meet. Guilt for the dishes in the sink, the bath they skipped tonight, the cranky voice you hate hearing yourself use, the way you snap and bark as they make you run late (again?!), the non-organic dinner or the store bought birthday cake. I’d heard the term mother’s guilt before. I didn’t realise it meant you will literally question if you are somehow responsible for absolutely everything that may go wrong… but you will.
The worry that will CONSUME you. Is she happy at school? Was he ready for Kindy? Are they coping with change? Are they missing me? Am I working too much? What if this sickness is something serious? (My daughter woke crying last night after sleeping awkwardly and I knew it was the way she lay on her pillow but still the mere mention of ‘sore neck’ had me googling menangitis symptoms at 2 o’clock in the morning and unable to return to sleep). Is my parenting causing them more harm than good? Will they be well adjusted adults or are we ruining them?
The judgement. Oh man the judgement. Judgement for your birthing choices. Your feeding choices. Your discipline choices. Returning to work choices. I would warn myself how much that judgement will sting. Tell myself to try hard to rise above it and look instead for the helpers and supporters. The ones you can text or call when times are tough and you know they will understand and assure you, remind you that you are not alone. When your child is having a shopping centre meltdown and you can feel the stares burning into you, look past the judging eyes and disapproving shakes of heads and look for the fellow mumma who catches your eyes and says with an empathetic smile ‘I know Mumma. It’s hard. I’m with you.’ She’s there. They’re always there. You don’t know it yet, but they will come to form the tribe that will help you through this rollercoaster journey.
The Love. Nothing could prepare you for the overwhelming love. A love the makes all the noise, chaos and unfinished conversations with your partner worth it. A love that forgives and forgets again and again. A love that sees you through some of the most sleepless, challenging, completely draining days (and nights) of your life. A love that sometimes takes your breathe away and makes your heart feel like it could spill up and over. A love that literally feels like your heart is on the outside of your body, walking around in the shape of theirs. A love that defines you now. Defines everything that you do and every decision you make. Because from the moment you lay eyes on them your main priority becomes their wellbeing and happiness. A love that makes you climb into their bed after the cranky voice is done, hold their peaceful sleeping body tight and promise them that you will try harder.
Finally, I would tell me that yes- it is hard. SO hard.
But it’s hard because it matters. It’s hard because you care. It’s hard because this may be the most important thing you ever do and you want to do it well. You want to be the mum they deserve. But you already are mumma. Amidst all your mistakes…all your worry…all your guilt..they will feel your love. And for that alone- you’ll be the best mumma they ever had. The only mumma they need.
I think that is what I’d say.