When you become a mum, you get to join a highly populated community of seemingly isolated people.
Hear me out. It’s a good thing.
Motherhood is a crazy, intense mixture of being opened up to a wonderful society of women who have given birth and are available for support, advice and encouragement… while simultaneously beginning a journey that is actually just about you and your child, slogging out the everyday together as you learn how to function as a new family unit.
It is about joining a gloriously nurturing body of people who have the same purpose as you, while also setting off on a terrifyingly unaccompanied, unsupervised job with no holiday pay or toilet breaks.
Isn’t being a mum just the weirdest?!
When my son was born, I laid low for a decent period of time. My milk supply was minimal and, as a tongue-tied, premature newborn, my baby became accustomed to a bottle quickly. Every attempt to breastfeed, even once my milk came in, became a small battle. Time passed both quickly (and slowly?!) as my husband and I made decisions as new parents, developed routines and systems, educated ourselves and, amongst it all, tried to get some sleep.
While that time passed, I decisively didn’t join a mothers group. I didn’t have the capacity for other people, let alone embracing the idea of making new friends. I was too busy expressing milk and staring at the bedroom wall, cursing the fact that I am not a day sleeper, and just waiting for the next feed. Truthfully, through it all, I had no regrets about my decision.
But now, one year later, I realise the importance behind us, as mums, having a group of people we can rely on. I was very lucky to have supportive family and a number of close friends who could hug me and answer all of my intense, crazy questions. They were my solid pillars of stability during a very rocky period. I do understand, though, that not everybody is lucky enough to have these people right at their fingertips. This leads me to believe that some mums may be keeping all of their dumb questions and paranoid thinking to themselves. This is a terrible idea.
So here it is. Mums of the world: you are not going mad! Your questions are not dumb and you are not alone! Your child is not as unique as you think! Other mums have gone through things you are going through. Other mums have been lonely, have been emotional, have struggled to breastfeed, have had terrible labours, have had sick children, have been to the emergency department, have had children that don’t sleep/eat/walk/talk/poop, have had problems and victories and tears and laughter and meltdowns of epic proportions. Do you think that you’re the first woman in history to have a baby? Get outta town, friend. You are so not alone.
So find a mum friend. Or two. Or a whole group of mum friends. Don’t shy away from the people that can help you most. We’re a giant community for a reason; we all have one thing in common, that we all have given birth to a baby who is uniquely different to every other baby. And that helps, because women – mums around you – have stories and advice that will encourage you, and will help with answers or ideas that you need for your own child.
Mums, we need each other!
If you’re a new mum, don’t just stare at that blank wall (although, seriously, that downtime can be top notch). Seek out friends, new or old. Go outside in the sunshine with your babies and laugh at your life. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the dumb things, or the naive things, or the uncertain things, because chances are, you’ll get a response of, “oh that?! Yeah, we went through that!” Ask and be vulnerable and breathe and get it all off your chest. Don’t carry the weight of motherhood on your own.
If you’re an experienced mum, whether it be six months or sixteen years, don’t hide your story! Stories of struggle and survival, of successes and second-tries, gave me hope that if another mum was able to get through their hard times, I could get through mine. Share what you have been through. Remember the vulnerability of discovering motherhood for the first time and be kind. Listen well. Encourage new mothers in their journeys – don’t so easily forget your first experiences! You have conquered, now help them conquer.
We are all in this together, mums. We may do the every day, every minute, every hour riding solo, but there is nothing better than this incredible league of mums, unified to help, support and empower each other to create the best families possible.
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Kat lives in Perth, Western Australia and is pretty happy with her dandy life of 30 years. She is married to Andrew, who is a freelance graphic designer, all-around cool guy and now dad to their ridiculously adorable little boy.
Kat is a manager of a cafe, with a background that looks like a bag of assorted mixed lollies – administration, finance, selling yoghurt, image consulting, making coffee, and account managing. She loves Jesus, reading, drinking a decent cup of coffee, writing and cooking.