Dear new first-time mum, or not so new mum… Dear mum who’s finding it tough right now.
It’s fucking hard. It is. It’s not just you. Let me tell you something from the vantage point of a second time mum – this too shall pass. The only reason I can even vaguely cope this time is because I’ve done it before and I am confident it will come to an end. Of course then a new and different really annoying thing will start, but hey, a change is as good as a rest.
That first time it is just so fucking hard and you must do whatever you can to get through. Eat chocolate, go on Facebook, watch crappy, Hallmark made-for-TV movies that have you somewhere between weeping and laughing because they’re so schmaltzy, but so bad.
I’m currently typing to you from the darkness of my bedroom, sitting up in bed because if I move The Girl to the baby jail (aka, her cot) after I feed her to sleep she wakes up again and I really really need to just get on with writing or I will lose my mind and my sense of self. Do whatever it takes to hang onto that sense of self, even if it means you end up dancing with the baby strapped to you in a sling, or reading your book bundled up against the cold as you one-handedly push the buggy containing your sleeping toddler round and round the park. I type blog posts in the dark while I eat cake and fantasise about having enough spare time that I don’t have to choose between a clean house and clean hair.
If you’re feeling low, I mean really low, then please go see your Health visitor or GP, because they do put extra resources into post natal mental health and you are not wasting anybody’s time, but please don’t feel bad or ‘less than’ because you’re struggling.
Everyone can see that you’re doing an ace job, but you’ll just discount it, thinking that they don’t know what you’re really like when you’re on your own with the baby, crying into your cold tea, still wearing a vomit-stained dressing gown whilst your baby cries for you to pick her up 30 seconds after you put her down and you’re ignoring her for just 30 seconds more because you’re so touched out it feels like your skin is about to peel off. Oh no, they’re just seeing the bits that you want them to see, the ones that portray you in a flattering light and blah blah blah – but she smiles, right? However bloody infuriating it is, she just wants you, yes? – that’s good! She’s happy. She’s attached to you. That means you’re doing a really. Good. Job.
Doesn’t mean it’s not fucking hard to be you right now. It is so. Fucking. Hard. Grit your teeth and hang on. We’re all doing the same thing. It’s what mothers have done for years, decades, centuries. Generation after generation has gone through this. Thirty years from now you’ll be accosting snot-encrusted, hollow-eyed young women being mauled by a baby and telling them to enjoy every minute, that it goes so fast, that time is precious… Or perhaps you won’t, but you’ll probably be thinking it, because these days will fly by before you know it. But right now it’s just hard, and it’s OK to feel that way.