Constance Hall reminds us why moms need the support of our girlfriends.
One of the hardest parts of motherhood — especially new motherhood — is that it’s incessant. Constant. Everything about it is relentless. You think you know this when you’re pregnant, and you’re so ready for it. But you don’t really understand. When you’re home and healing and exhausted, it’s so difficult to articulate what it is you truly need — from your husband, your family, or your girlfriends. Constance Hall, a wonderful blogger and down-to-earth mom, reminds us that we’re not alone in feeling this way.
In a post she shared earlier today, Hall shared her memories of new motherhood and offered her thoughts on what we should all do in order to better support one another.
“The constant stress of “have I bonded with this baby? I’m so tired and resentful, is that normal? With one leaking tit hanging out of a maternity bra, a flap of empty skin hanging over your nickers and a pad the size of a nappy hanging around your mangled vagina as you run to your screaming baby after daring to put her down and brush your teeth, you don’t feel like a miracle… you don’t look like the photo shoots..
“And then for some of us, the miracle happens and it’s in the form of help, usually by another women. Comes over to hold our baby, wash our dishes and let us sleep.”
Oh God, how true is that? With motherhood comes instant guilt, and you’re so new to this whole thing that sometimes it’s so hard to ask for help. We feel like we shouldn’t. We don’t want anyone to judge us, or to feel like we’re a bother. But honestly, the most beautiful gift you could give a new mom friend is the gift of another woman saying, “I understand. I know. I’m here.”
A couple of weeks ago a child therapist that I know looked at my kids and said, "You're such a good mum" Feeling like a total fraud I blurted, "I don't feel like a good mum. The kids are driving me so crazy, I'm losing my temper, feeling like shot about it and falling asleep at night wondering where I'm going got get the patients for another day from" To which she responded with a statement that I haven't been able to forget, "Babies cry, it's how they communicate. Toddlers scream, children whinge and teenagers complain. Then mums say the words 'for fuck sake under their breath before every response. It's how we communicate. But guess what Con? It's better then silence. A house full of screaming kids and fighting teenagers and a parent who's being thrown every question and request is a healthy one to me. It's the silent children, the scared toddlers, the teenagers that don't come home and the parents who aren't in communication with their children that I worry about. And kids don't drive you crazy, you were crazy already. That's why you had them." And just like that, I felt like a good parent again. Deep breaths, we are doing a good job 💗👑
Feeling overwhelmed is just a part of motherhood, no matter how old your kids are. But our need to get out for a bit has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of love we feel.
“Just like when the kids are screaming, they won’t let you get ready, your frustration is brewing, you just can’t wait to get out of the house and away from them, then bam,” Hall writes. “The babysitter gets there and you are out for dinner, showing your girlfriends photos of the kids, telling, kissing your phone, messaging the babysitter for updates.”
This. Is. All. Of. Us. And you know why? Hall lays it all out there, and while there are plenty of reasons for each of us, she nails why we feel the way we do.
“Its not motherhood that’s the problem, it’s the relentlessness. Your children aren’t the problem, your lack of a village is.
“You see I read once that mothers suffer the most in the absence of a village. The worst part is that rather then questioning their community they are constantly questioning themselves.
“Don’t question yourself, this isn’t supposed to be this lonely, you are not the only one suffering, we all suffer due to our society’s set up. Grab your girlfriends, hold them close, make dinner together, wash each other’s dishes and love their babies like they are your own.”
I’m not crying, you’re crying.
After I had my daughter, the isolation (combined with one long, dreary winter) would consume me some days. Not a lot of my friends had kids, or even lived nearby. Looking back, I wish I had reached out to my own girlfriend village. I know they would have given me exactly what I needed, even if all they could offer was a phone call and some laughs.
But, like Hall writes, I questioned myself a lot in those early days. I still do. Society makes us feel like we, as mothers, have to have our collective shit together at all times or everything will fall apart. But sometimes, women just need other women to step in and stand with us.
What happens when we put too much pressure on mothers? Once after having 1 child I asked my dad how on earth my nanna did it with 11? My dad responded that she wasn't given half the pressures I was. She didn't have to go to the bank, the supermarket everyday, she wasn't expected to look a million bucks straight after birth and she never put pressure on her kids to have reached all of their miles stones by the age of 3 weeks. She just hung out with her kids and enjoyed them. So how do we do it, with all of the pressure we are put under? Well a lot of us don't actually enjoy our kids, we are only half present for our kids all of the time due to the constant pressure to have everything perfect. To go to the gym, answer that email, pay that bill, cook that organic kale, blend it, get it into a patty so no one knows it's kale, get to the doctors…. The washing! Petrol in the car…. colour your god dam greys! Make the kids lunches cos if you order them again you will be JUDGED! Meanwhile we are losing the time to be present the with our children, half listening to them, preoccupied, nodding along while our brains are thinking "fuck now Video Easy is taking legal action on that $12 fine" Yesterday in a seminar we did an experiment, we partnered up and told a story, half way through the story our partners were ordered to stop listening. They looked away, yawned, preoccupied their minds while we were telling them something we believed interesting. And guess how it made me feel? Boring, embarrassed for not being able to interest anyone, unworthy and insignificant. Is that what this busy life is making my kids feel? Today I woke up with a desire to take a deep breath and let it all go, I don't really care about the new blinds I had ordered or making the house decent so that my mates don't think I've lost the plot. But I really care about my time with my kids and how they feel about themselves. And I'm not going to let outside pressures take that away from me.
Speaking of those great girlfriend laughs, she gives us all reason to at the end of her post:
“And my all time favourite memory of the first few weeks of motherhood was opening the door, leaky tit hanging out, flap of skin swooping under my top. And the sides of a maternity pad sticking out of my undies, to a friend, who took one look at my disgraceful state and we both pissed ourselves laughing.”