From Caitlin Moran, at Alpha Mummy, comes quite possibly the best description of new motherhood I have read:
As I discovered in the first few weeks of motherhood, having a newborn is a very special era in your life, when you have so little time that you often have to split having a poo between two separate days – summoned from the toilet by hysterical, red-faced screaming from what appears to be a semi-malignant otter in a pink towelling suit, who genuinely quite hates you.
Can empathise with that right now.
Moran goes on to discuss what she has gained from becoming a mother, and although it’s sometimes hard to be positive about mothering when you busy treading water through the days with a newborn, I nevertheless thought I would try something similar and attempt to list ten things I have gained out of being a mother (aside from the obvious ones: unconditional love [that is, for something other than chocolate], empathy with mothers all round the world and smiling more than I ever thought possible at my newborn, even if it does make me look kinda like a crazy woman.)
So here are my ten things (and just to make it clear, I am not in any way implying that non-parents do not feel or experience any of these things):
1. No longer having any fear about what my body looks like or who sees it. Changing rooms, fitting rooms, doctors’ examining rooms, all once a source of worry or embarrasment to my teenage or pre-motherhood self? They hold no fear for me anymore. In fact, in this hot weather, must remember not to answer the door in my bra.
2 . Learning to make very gory things sound really quite pleasant. Terrible Things overheard on the news become, miraculously, never as bad as they sound when put through the Mommy Explanation Filter.
3. I’m pretty good in a crisis. Child choking on a grape? Put telephone down, deftly swing child out from booster seat strap, turn him head down and bang until his lungs come up (and the grape too, hopefully), resume very important telephone conversation.
4. Gaining a ready-made circle of friends. And as a bonus, due to the shared circumstances that is early motherhood, they (mostly) couldn’t care less what I look like. Which is just as well given the state of me most of the time.
5. The ability to appreciate the good days with my children after suffering severe post-partum depression. Spending months crying all day does not for happy motherhood make but when I think I’m having a bad day now, I remember those times and it puts my day into perspective.
6. Learning about nutrition. Because basically I didn’t have a clue. Coffee and cocktails with the occasional pastry thrown in to mop it all up were my staple diet throughout my twenties. Add in a brush with pregnancy diabetes and I’m now an over-zealous nutrition expert.
7. Learning to appreciate any amounts of me-time. As the years have passed, the number of children in the household has increased, the daily chores have increased exponentially and the homeschooling duties take increasing hold on our day. I have never been more organized or efficient. And this is mostly to ensure that there is some time for me and, my God, if I don’t savour every two minutes of peace I get. Unfortunately these moments are never in the bathroom.
8. Having a dreadful fear of Things Happening To My Children. But, at the same time I have absolutely no fear where protecting them is concerned and I would throw myself in front of a train without hesitation if I thought it would save them. Although that’s not high on my list of priorities of things to do before I turn forty.
9. Coping with little or no sleep. They say sleep deprivation is a form of torture but in this house that’s only half the story: torture is sleep deprivation while having to look after four children.
10. Feeling no guilt when I have a very strong G&T at the end of the day. Because, unlike my twenty-something days – you know, back when I thought I was busy, but I so was not – I have definitely earned it.
What have I missed? What has motherhood (or fatherhood) given you?