The earliest mood of motherhood comes before there is motherhood at all – prompted by that first moment staring at blue lines on a stick. It may be joy, or relief, or surprise, or shock, or fear – very few moments can be so life-changing and provoke such opposing emotions.
For me, it was an inexplicable sense of being overwhelmed; I clearly remember sitting on the side of the bath, sobbing. But excitement soon followed, and that’s how it was for the next nine months, with just moments of creeping fear if I thought too much about what was ahead.
The first mood of post-birth motherhood was incredible joy – there’s nothing in the world like holding a newborn child moments in the first seconds of life. The incredulity at what has just happened, the natural and unnatural high. For me, the bubble burst once we left the cosseted environment of the hospital. At home, I was overwhelmed. My need to control everything was at odds with this new world where a newborn baby was in charge.
I remember not knowing where to put things and being irrationally frustrated about that – where should the changing mat go? And the moses basket? And which drawer should her vests go in? Even then, I knew it was ridiculous, but I couldn’t let go. There was fear and anxiety too – what if I didn’t feed her often enough? What if she didn’t gain weight? Why on earth had the hospital let me home with this not yet 6lb baby? And there was sadness – I was trying to figure out how to be a mum, and desperately missing my own mother.
Moods changed by the day and by the hour – mine and hers – neither predictable. We muddled along together, trying to get in sync. There were many, many happy moments – the first smile, the beginnings of a two-way relationship. There were lonely times too, during that long, grey winter, when we still hadn’t figured one another out.
Then the sun came out, the evenings grew longer, and my slowly acquired knowledge lit up the dark corners of bewilderment. But joy at corners turned was quickly replaced by sadness on return to work, and then the cycle resumed with another blue line on a stick.
The ups and downs were too numerous to count – waves crashing, each one different from the last, and no forecast of the next. With two-under-two, there were good days and bad days – good hours and bad hours. A day that seemed impossible at 1pm could look perfect by 3. Ask me then how it was with two small kids, and I’d tell you it was wonderful and perfect. Ask me two hours earlier, and I would have burst into tears.
I could never remember how it felt yesterday – only the there and then. Intense happiness or drowning anxiety – rolling over each other and out of my control.
And then there were three. And it should have been simple. But of course it wasn’t. As it turned out, I had learnt nothing at all. The homecoming was just as overwhelming as ever – though with four days till Christmas, two other smallies, and tongue tie, there were mitigating circumstances.
The crying went on for nine weeks (his and mine), and in desperation, I signed up for a baby massage class – because the ad said it might help with colic. I don’t know if he had colic or if the class ever helped with colic, but it saved me. As did the mum and baby bootcamp that I went on to do afterwards, and the Pilates class I joined after going back to work, and writing this blog.
And then, maybe because the kids were no longer babies, or maybe because I got used to it and found my rhythm, or maybe because I found some things that were just for me – not mother or worker but me – it fell into place.
The little everyday things that used to stress me stopped stressing me. The small things became smaller. The big things became less monumental. Three, or even two crying at once is still overwhelming, but one at a time I can do. Siblings squabble daily, but play for hours. Messy rooms surround us, but home comforts win out. The kitchen is almost tidy when we sit down at night, but perfection is as unnecessary as it is futile.
The vests are mixed in with the socks, the moses basket is long gone, and the changing mat will follow too. What seemed impossible and never-ending is in the end fleeting.
The little everyday frustrations that worried me so much just wash over me now – they’re not as important as they once were.
What matters now are hugs and smiles and the urge to tell my husband a funny story about the kids after I’ve kissed each one goodnight.
The overriding mood of motherhood is finally and simply happiness.
Today’s post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing).
Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.net