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
15 thoughts on “The Moods of Motherhood – Ebb and Flow”
That’s just lovely, and you describe the anxiety over where things should go so well, our attempt to get every thing right from the very beginning. I loved this
Bumbles of Rice recently posted…Looking Back on the Day I Became a Mother: Moods of Motherhood Blogging Carnival
thank you for the lovely comment 🙂
That was so refreshingly honest and easy to relate to! I always said no one ever told me how hard it would be with a new born but i think they did, I just chose not to listen. I find myself ‘warning’ soon-to-give-birth-women of the highs and lows of motherhood and stressing the lows part in the hope they hear and might be slightly prepared for it if it comes knocking. Great blog…. I’ve wanted to blog about my own experience of motherhood for the first time but I’m just not ready yet…. she’s seven!
I do the same – I was chatting to a friend the other day, who is due her first, and mentioned how lonely and tough I found it. I felt conflicted about sounding negative, and told her that it’s quite likely she’ll love it, especially as she has friends who are off too, but at least if it’s tough, she knows it’s normal.
But you could be right – maybe we hear it and don’t listen.
Thanks for the lovely comment Jill and I hope you get to write about it sometime.
The bloody changing mat. Three years on I still find myself wandering into discussions about the merits of a changing unit. We ended up with a veg rack. And the obsession with the temperature. Where to put the thermometer? I still hear the echo of those early moods at times.
Nice post. I was sorry to read about your Mum.
MO’D recently posted…On Ireland and gender quotas
I admit I still need to have a place for things – even if it’s a corner on the floor. And I know if I had a fourth baby, I’d still be confused!
Lovely post. Nice to hear that things eventually fall into place – even after three!
Ps. Can totally relate to the irrational frustration of where to put things. I recently found a new home for all the bibs – in the basket under the highchair – and it actually made my day. So sad but so true!
Jennifer Riddall recently posted…Moods of Motherhood: ‘All of the things’
When I read your comment, all I could think was “A basket under the high chair! Why didn’t any of my three high chairs ever have a basket?” Temptation to have fourth child just to get a high-chair with a basket is currently being suppressed 🙂
Your experience of 3 sounds so similar to ours. Thanks so much for joining the carnival!
Thanks for hosting – I enjoyed thinking about this post!
Ah yes, the obsession of the first time summed up so well. I just remember driving home at about 5 kph worried that we were too far away from the baby who was happily asleep in the back seat. Ah the stress. Will we ever forget it? X
Helen O’Keeffe recently posted…Dublin Coddle – a very easy (if ugly) teatime favourite
I know – the driving home is mad isn’t it – and we look back and wonder why we were so neurotic about everything, but in another way, I still totally get it, and know I’d be the same again. Rite of passage I guess!
Beautiful post. Such a roller coaster, this parenthood lark. Roller coasters are fun as well as terrifying. Parenthood is no different.
Sadhbh@WhereWishesComeFrom recently posted…Santa’s Little Buddy
I am actually petrified of real rollercoasters – give me parenting ups and downs any day!
Comments are closed.