When I started writing Over Heaven’s Hill over a year ago, my aim was to write about how parenthood changed me. Changed my personality, my outlook on life, and my ordinary routines. Over the year, my focus has changed a little and I now write, more freely, about the difficult days, the hardships and the worries we all seem to have when it comes to parenting and how the changes that have occurred in my life are not always welcome. Of course, I write about the good days too, but being honest about how drastic life changes when adding children to the mix is important for me. And hopefully you appreciate my honesty.
Writing about my life as Momma Bear is somewhat cathartic and the honesty I write with helps me to understand myself better as a mother and I find it focuses me on becoming the type or mother I need to be rather than want to be.
This post is honest. Believe me when I say, that I am not trying to be negative with these thoughts. I’m telling my truth. I’m sharing how I have found parenting to be the toughest job I’ve ever had. (Most rewarding but wow so tough). I’m being honest about how much my life has changed in ways I didn’t expect. My truth is not your truth. But you may recognise something in this and know that you are not alone and know that it’s perfectly OK to share some of my views.
Since Little Bean arrived, this change in focus has deepened and I have questioned and wondered about my personality, about my life with B and my life as Momma Bear. I know there are plenty of changes for anyone who becomes a parent but there are many unanswered questions and thoughts about how we can get through this awkward, and sometimes, difficult time in our lives, especially these early years when our identity gets subsumed into babyhood, and how we can still be us. But the truth is…
Parenting is harder than you will ever imagine
There are always smiles, day after day, as you meet friends or strangers in the supermarket, at the bank or on a quick walk for some fresh air. “Is she a good baby?”… of course she is. “Does she sleep through the night yet?”… of course she doesn’t. “Are you getting any sleep yourself?”… of course I’m not.
And yet, most of us smile and nod through the haze of exhaustion and answer the questions with politenes, telling the world how amazing our baby is and how in love we are (which obviously we are). But behind the smiles hides the truth that we’re often too afraid to say. Too afraid to show that we are struggling. That we are finding this hard. That everything is not all bright and cheery among the newborn baby smell. That we thought it would not necessarily be easier than this but perhaps different.
I met a friend recently who has just had her first baby and when I asked her how she was getting on, her answer was simply perfect. “It’s a culture shock,” she said. And she is absolutely right.
There is no preparing you for the big moments, the big changes or even the small changes. You simply have to roll with the motions, rock with the changes that occur once your own Little Bean arrives. Yes, you know, in a way, what life is going to be like. You know the baby will not work around your life but you around theirs. You know there will be huge changes. But do you know that it will shock you as to how drastic those changes are? Are you prepared for how awkward and difficult baby days can be?
The baby cries more than you expected and is impossible console. You find yourself desperately wishing that there was a magic fix, but there really isn’t. Not yet anyway until you get to know your baby more
Your other children are jealous and demand your attention at the worst possible times. The house is chaotic and you often feel like you may be losing control
You fight with your partner through the frustration of too many voices, demands and loud noises. Intimacy is on hold, proper conversations are almost impossible
You desperately attempt to regain control of your old routine which clearly won’t fit in with your new life with a new baby. And you can’t envisage the baby settling into a proper routine yet
You cry. You cry so much that you wonder why you feel hurt, angry, upset, sad and frustrated when you should be enjoying your beautiful baby
Being Honest About Parenting
And yet, no one really talks about the hardship of parenting. It is afterall something we all do. What makes it harder for me over you? Nothing. It’s hard for everyone but not everyone will say that out loud.
Since becoming Momma Bear, I know that you have had as many hard days as you have had good days. I know that you have parental guilt. I know that you have cried and wanted desperately to run out of the house. I know that you have questioned yourself over and over again about whether you are doing a good job. I know that you sometimes long for the day before kids again. I know that you too want to say all of this out loud but are afraid that you will be judged for thinking all of this. I know that you are doing your absolutely best.
But the fact of the matter is, parenting is so damn fricking hard, no matter what stage you’re in.
But it’s also incredible. Incredibly amazing. I talk about how parenting has changed my personality but this change is not necessarily a bad thing. My life and my goals have changed which also isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having children is the biggest adjustment you will ever make in your life. It’s drastic, it’s a shock. It’s terrifying and exciting. It’s hard. It’s scary.
And it’s worth it. For every change, for every adjustment to your life, there’s a new giggle and smile attached to that change.
I have no advice. That’s not why I write.
But I will say it loud and clear, I will not hide from the fact that I find parenting tough. And if you do too, the only thing I can say, is that life changes with every milestone. The shock of these changes never really goes, we just roll with these evolutions and become the parents we need to be.
Shortly after I wrote and published this post I sought help for Postnatal Depression and Anxiety. Parenting is hard enough without having PND to contend with also. So I sought out a counsellor and it has benefitted me greatly.