We know we haven’t formally introduced our contributors yet (soon, we promise!), but we’ve been chatting about the hardest, or most unexpected, parts of becoming a parent. Here are some of their responses:
‘Probably how I’ve lost myself, and I am still working on gaining my sense of self. Parenting has been, in a word, overwhelming, physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. Since having my first almost four years ago, my former self was left behind, and I’m still trying to figure out where that person went. Caught in the trees and cannot see the forest, nearly all of my time and energy is spent on caring for and meeting the demands and needs of my little ones, and what’s left over for myself is fragments and shards of a person that I used to remember, but no longer know. I’ve realized that I will never be that carefree, childless person anymore, and am changing and growing, just like my children, but making time to find out who this person is remains a challenge. But it is crucial.
An analogy I remind myself of frequently is of the hungry waitress. Imagine you are a waitress in a busy restaurant. You are running off your feet, filling glasses, bringing food and cleaning up – making sure your customers are satisfied. But you haven’t eaten all day. Pleasantries turn to resentment. Why can’t you just sit down for a minute and have a bite? Why must your customers only enjoy themselves? The hungry waitress becomes angry, broken and shrill. The full waitress has filled her cup, along with her customers. Obviously this is metaphorical but the sentiment remains. I’m trying my best not to be that hungry waitress.’
‘What I never realised before having children was the enormous responsibility I would feel for them and how that would last for the rest of my life. This realisation dawned on my two days after my first son was born. I suddenly felt what I could only describe as ‘dread’. I knew in that moment that I would be ‘worried’ about him for the rest of my life. I think postnatal hormones made that way worse. But now I know that I will always carry their lives with me inside my own heart and the immense love and responsibility mixed together is sometimes a heavy burden if things are tough but it’s overwhelmingly honouring when things are going well. I’m not the same person I was. They have imprinted on my heart and life forever.’
‘I think I would most likely say maintaining balance with all other areas of life. Or getting one baby wipe out of the packet instead of five at a time.’ (Editor’s note: YES on the baby wipes!)
‘The most unexpected thing about being a parent has been the things I’ve learned about myself in the last three years, I know myself better than I ever have and I’m (mostly) able to accept myself as I am and be a lot truer to myself. Although a lot of people that knew me pre-parenthood might say that I’ve changed a lot, I actually feel more “me” than I have ever done before. Parenthood has given me this enormous opportunity for growth and self discovery which is incredible, but the journey thus far has been difficult and I think the emotional exhaustion and overwhelm is the hardest thing for me because it makes everything more challenging.’
Do any of these resonate with you? What part of becoming a parent have you found hardest?
For more posts this topic, we’ve written quite a few times about how having children has pulled the rug out from under our feet. Pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding aside, Jo has discussed the unachieveable goal of ‘perfection’ in parenting (and life!), the slippery slope towards maternal martyrdom and, more recently, about GUILT, and balancing the wellbeing of a toddler with the needs of a newborn. Lauren has talked about identity (and feeling like you’ve lost it!), the pressure to ‘have it all’ and the crippling nature of sleep deprivation. We’re not saying it’s an impossible task but it IS important to keep it real and sharing posts like this hopefully help to normalise the, sometimes overwhelming emotions that accompany parenthood.
The Mother Side x
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