Having a baby shakes up your world, on a practical level but also on a deeply emotional level. I found that not just my daily life and relationships were changed, but my very identity came into question.
Before I had my first baby, I thought I knew myself reasonably well, my faults and failures and where I excelled. I thought I knew my good and bad points but these are now all suddenly magnified and tested as you are pushed to your very limit and a just bit further.
The things about me that I could hide before start to surface, I suddenly come face to face with my selfishness and need for comfort and independence, but even more obvious was my lack of confidence to do this new role.
Where I would doubt myself and indulge in low self esteem before, I came to realise that this now has major implications as there is a tiny person wholly dependant on me.
The pressure is intense to be the best for them.
You are not only dealing with your own crazy emotions (and I mean CRAZY), but you also have this constant nagging question in your mind.
Am I a good enough mum?
You forget who you are for a while and become consumed by this one tiny little person and being good enough for them. Sometimes I looked to other mothers for comfort but would find myself comparing, and then came away feeling much worse, deciding that they must just be doing it better.
In this time of very early motherhood, I felt I was losing a sense of myself and of who I was. I was getting lost in nap times and ‘the perfect nap length’, dealing with feeding and trying to soothe my baby day after day. If one thing went wrong, one nap time too late or wake time wrong, my entire day would be ruined.
Who is this crazy person who is letting herself be ruled by nap times?? Who has taken over my body and is acting like a mad woman?!
My day and my mood would be dependant on my baby’s mood, which as a colicky and generally very high maintenance kind of baby, this meant I was often anxious and very rarely at peace with myself.
Before I had my first baby I imagined motherhood to be hard and tiring, but I never imagined to have my confidence knocked away completely. I imagined I would be able to soothe my baby and I longed for those ‘magical’ moments other mums talked about but after many days of a crying and fractious baby I started to doubt myself and my ability as a mum. How can I not soothe my own baby? Surely every mum can do that for their child?
This in itself made me forget that I was actually once much more confident and secure in who I was.
It took me a about a year to start to remember again the person I was (Oh yes, I remember! I love to read and to dance, and I love real conversations and sharing a bottle of wine with a friend!). Old passions and loves start to emerge again as I come out of the all consuming time of caring intensely for my baby and not really knowing what on earth I’m doing.
You forget what you are good at, what you can add to your little society. You become so consumed with being a good enough mum that you forget that you are a person too with a personality and gifts and a god given purpose.
But now you have been through this intense time, you aren’t the same person that you were before.
You are more.
Yes, you are more broken, tired, messy and tired (did I already say tired?) but you have learned about a deep source of strength that is only found from doing something as sacrificial as loving and caring for one so dependant on you.
11 He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.
It was a great comfort to know I wasn’t doing this alone and that I can look to God who is gently leading us, we are close to his heart and he promises to keep us near.