Is there a baby conspiracy? Advisor, writer and mother of three Orla Breeze shares her thoughts in our Rated PG parenting column.
I’ve been at this game for over 13 years. (The Parenting Game, that is. Wouldn’t want you to think that I’ve got myself embroiled in a ridiculously long game of Trivial Pursuit.) But despite the intervening years, the biggest shock that greeted me when I crossed the Bridge of Naivety to Motherhood continues to shock new mothers today. Even though monumental changes have come about in the world of parenting since I became one – the arrival of Facebook, Twitter and countless other ways to communicate our needs and challenges – the conspiracy persists. What conspiracy, you say?
The Baby Conspiracy.
Any new mum out there knows what I’m talking about. That creeping realisation that a whole lot of information has been kept from you, at exactly the time when you could really do with knowing a hell of a lot more. Your friends who became mothers before you suddenly change their original parenting stories of ease, and flow, and grace, to their real-life experiences of chaos, and tiredness, and bewilderment. One of my friends even confided in me that she wasn’t sure she would make it through the first year, yet at the time told me everything was great! Yes, great! I reckon that’s about as far away from the truth as she could possibly have gone.
Which brings me to my point. Why didn’t she, and all the others, simply tell me the truth and give me the full picture? And that’s not a judgment by the way, it’s a genuine curiosity. I mean, we could probably come to the decision that maybe she didn’t want to upset or worry or stress me before the big event, but isn’t it more upsetting, and worrying, and stressful to realise that your friends withheld information from you that could really have helped in those first few weeks?
So why did it happen then, and more importantly, why is the baby conspiracy still happening today? Yes, things have moved on – for starters, there are a whole lot more truthful conversations happening online – but very little of it is transferring to the real world where we actually live. I don’t want to have to be the one to say it but pretending we’re fine when we’re anything but, ain’t helping anyone.
So I’m making a stand right here, right now about the baby conspiracy. For the benefit of all pregnant women and newly minted mums, I am providing a list of the many ways most women feel when they become a parent. If you feel any of these, you are completely normal. Yes, you read that right, completely normal.
• Bewildered at how much time a small human being can take up.
• Questioning your sanity.
• Sure that everyone else is having an easy time and it’s just you who’s struggling.
• Unsure why you thought having a baby was such a great idea.
• Surprised that nobody told you what to really expect after all the expecting.
• Really, very, totally tired.
The good news is that all of the above feelings will pass as you learn more, and know more, and sleep more. I promise. (I wouldn’t have had two more kids if they didn’t. That would be total insanity and I’m not there yet.) But the best advice I can give you for right now is to break that damn Baby Conspiracy! Be honest with others – especially other new mothers – about where you’re at, and ask for help every single time you need it. But most importantly of all, know that you’re not a bad mother. Because the truth is, you’re not.
This article first appeared in the Feb/Mar edition of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue!