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storm-pass

I am going to be completely honest with you:

I have not had the easiest year so far when it comes to motherhood.

Other areas are all going well, but this mothering gig has been a lot tougher than usual the last few months.

Whether it was the start of a new school year (and for my youngest that meant getting used to 5 days a week away from mum) or the fact that we had just returned from a 4 week holiday  trip back to South Africa, living out of suitcases and traveling from pillar to post or maybe just a random turn of events, both my children hit a big wobbly.

For my oldest that meant a severe bout of anxiety over a variety of things, even though he has always been my easy-going adventurer that didn’t know the meaning of the word fear. My sleep was interrupted several times each night as he struggled with nightmares and falling asleep again afterwards.

My darling youngest returned to the tornado-like temper meltdowns he had when he was two. We all bore the brunt of his angry outbursts, copped an enormous amount of verbal abuse and had to tread on eggshells constantly.

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mums-need-other-mums

When my son was four months old, I made a nice visit to a doctor who practices about an hour’s drive from home.

She had become my friend during my visits and I wanted someone I could trust to check out my new(ish)born son and give me the lowdown on his health without all of the unnecessary medical mumbo jumbo.

So picture this: I’ve just been in the car for an hour. My son has had a nap in that time, but is also going through a temperamental stage with how he feels about being in the car. Current mood: Nah.

But, against all odds, we’ve made it to the appointment. I pop on the baby carrier, get my beautiful baby out of the car-seat (which is acrobatic in itself) and slide him into the carrier. The sun blinds him, naturally. Which makes him want to look at it more, naturally. I shield him as best as I can while I lug my over-filled nappy bag out of the back seat and lock the door. Phew. We got this.

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research-prepare

When I’m faced with something new, I research.

I gather all the possible knowledge and tales of experience I can carry. Books, journals, magazines, people, Google, are all valuable resources.

When I faced parenthood at a young age, this was my tactic. Learn it all. Download the intel and execute exceptional parenthood.

It may seem that I grasped at a semblance of control over the uncontrollable for the illusion of being prepared. It did give me some peace though, and it armed me with some tools to use in moments that were beyond me. Most used was prayer; my mantra was a prayer for knowledge, wisdom and patience. I begged for the way to know what to do, the best way to do it, and to grow some capacity to withstand the struggles.

The thing that the research didn’t prepare me for was the overwhelming love.

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mother-didnt-breastfeed

A lot of things failed to go to plan in the weeks surrounding my son Jackson’s entry into the world.

I hoped to go into labour at 41 weeks. Yes, I actually hoped to go past term, purely because we needed that time for our nursery renovation.

I hoped for a birth story like all my friends’: the requisite number of hours of labour, an epidural at just the right moment, and a modest amount of pushing, with little to no tearing, thank you very much.

I hoped to shed a few tears. I hoped for immediate skin-to-skin contact, for a photo of our new family of 3 mere seconds after baby’s first breath of air.

I hoped to breastfeed.

What I got was far beyond what I ever could have predicted.

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value-mum-friends

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.

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two-sides-vulnerable

There has been a lot of talk lately on being vulnerable in motherhood. Admitting the struggles, being honest about feelings, asking for help. I think it’s a great “movement”; it’s time for us to get real about the fact that even though this journey is more than amazing, it’s also extremely tough. It can be very lonely, immensely confronting at times and let’s be honest: downright scary every now and again.

As great as vulnerability is for our own mental health, we often forget about the other spin-off; the positive effect it has on the people around us. I don’t know about you, but most people I know have a deep desire to make a difference, albeit seemingly small, in other lives.  If you are brave enough to open yourself up and become vulnerable, you can create a wonderful two-way street where you receive support and the person you are leaning on walks around with a sense of purpose.

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