I don’t remember being lonely before I became a mum – I think I was too busy. I felt sure of myself in every situation, I knew how to handle anything that came my way, then motherhood struck and BAM! I didn’t know what I was doing, I lost my confidence and the person I thought I was. I had to regrow, redefine who I was and what I stood for, the sort of mother I was going to be, and I’m still learning all the time. It’s a journey that I don’t think will ever end.
This morning I was in a cafe with my youngest son and saw a “new” mum with her newborn baby. Her face was streaked with tears and she was just looking at her baby in total shock. She looked exhausted and fragile, and totally alone. I should have reached out to her, approached her and reassured her. But I didn’t, I thought I might be intruding, I regret that now. I look back to when my oldest son was born and wish someone had reached out to me. Held my hand and helped me through, but I stayed home a lot trying to adjust and survive each day. The loneliness was unbearable and being around people didn’t help, as it just made me feel even more inadequate as everyone seemed to be loving being a mum for the first time.
After six years I’ve finally come to the realisation that I don’t need to love being a mum and embrace every element; I will sometimes forget PE kits and spare pants, I will sometimes not have change for an ice cream or make perfectly balanced meals. I won’t always know how to make my children behave nicely or stop them occasionally burping right in my face. I will stomp around and shout if we are late even though I know it won’t help, I will sometimes let them play the iPad for extended periods because I am tired and need a break. I will get snappy for no reason at all and turn my music up loudly to avoid hearing about skylanders. I’m human and I’m glad I’ve finally accepted that I’m a “good enough” mum, not a perfect one.
But getting back to the tear stained new mum in the cafe – next time you are at a playgroup, at school pick up, at swimming lessons or in the park. Look around you, talk to that mum (or dad) that looks like they need a friend and listen to them, offer reassurance and help if you can, because that’s what our community needs – let’s help each other to be “good enough” mums.