K is for Keeping up with Motherhood: 5 Ways
Motherhood is a foreign country I chose to permanently emigrate to …
… a world-wide club I decided to join …
… an outlook that I’m getting my head around …
… an inclination that didn’t come naturally to me …
… a juggling act that I’m not sure I can ever master …
… a word whose definition is hard to capture …
… a reality that billions of women live …
So, how does one keep up with motherhood – this at once elusive word and an actual reality for so many? I’m not entirely sure, but below are 5 of the many ways I’ve learnt and I’m learning to keep up with it.
1. Embrace it to enjoy it
It is hard to enjoy something you don’t really accept.
Motherhood comes with so many responsibilities and changes – physical, mental, emotional etc – and so many unknowns. Multitudes have been on this journey and shared their observations, but each has her own unique experience. There is no firm methodology to follow; it’s definitely not a ‘2+2=4 equation’. It’s a road filled with many ups and downs … peaks and pits … heart-rises and heart-sinks … a roller coaster ride of emotions you might never have even known existed … with (hopefully) mostly more highs than lows. Each day is different and no mothering experience is the same.
I’m finding that the more I accept the bumpiness of this road, the freerer I am in allowing myself to experience all it has to offer …
… the less uptight I am, the more intriguing it is …
… the more relaxed I allow myself to be, the more fun I have …
… the more wiling I am for it to ruffle my ‘fixed feathers’, the more enriching I find it …
… the more willing I am to go with the flow, the less stressed I feel …
… the more adjustments I’m willing to make, the more empowering it is …
… the more I throw myself into it, the more I enjoy it …
Indeed, the more we embrace all motherhood has to offer – knowns and unknowns – the more it’ll be the making of us.
2. Read, study, and know your child
There are so many guide books out there about mothering and one can get oneself into a right pickle trying to follow all their advice. The best sentence I read on this road is to read my child; boy, has it paid off? You bet it has. I’ve stopped trying to fit into someone’s mould of how and when my child should sleep, sit, eat, do this, and do that.
These books are based on a selection of children, not my child. My child is of course human and has similarities with others, but each child is unique. What works for one might not work for the other. I’ve been told by those with more than one children that this is true for siblings; how much more for samples of children with different family backgrounds.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that there isn’t value in reading guide books, I’ve read some pages from a few and I’ve found them useful. It’s helpful to see similarities, to know that you’re not alone in your experiences.They can be pointers to what to prepare oneself for and how to manage one’s expectations … or even help one to identify what might be wrong … or better understand what is going on.
However, I have found it less stressful to not try to fit into the concluding mould that different authors and other well-meaning folks suggest based on their experiences. Instead, I see their offering as a buffet of possibilities for me to dip in and out of. I take what works for me … experimenting with ideas … discarding and embracing advice as I deem fit, based on my child.
I continue to watch my baby and learn what makes him tick. Of course, he is growing and changing everyday, and I’m kept on my toes with regards to what I think I know works with him.
So I accept flexibility as a norm; after all, my child is not a robot … he is not fixed … he is human! So, it’s not as shocking when a tried and tested ‘technique’ doesn’t work anymore. We just find another way that works for both us, as he communicates his needs and feelings in the only ways that he can to me.
I’ve also learnt to accept that knowing my child takes time and this varies from one mother to another. I remember one of my mummy friends telling me how I should know the difference between my baby’s cry for food or sleep. I however didn’t have a clue! ‘How was I supposed to know’, I wondered many times. I felt so daft and helpless about not knowing.
Well, I did know in due course, but I still don’t always get it right. Also, knowing doesn’t mean I always act accordingly, or as immediately as I’d like to for a range of reasons.
So it’s important to be patient with oneself, and to give oneself time to adjust and learn to read, study, and know one’s child. It won’t happen overnight, and it’ll look different as one’s child grows. Mistakes will be made, and that’s okay; we’ll learn from them, and they’ll help us to read them better.
3. Know that mum knows best
I came across this idea at the hospital when I had my baby. I just wanted to be told what to do and how to do it. I mean, who doesn’t want to get things right, especially at that stage. However, I was told in many ways that a multitude of decisions was up to me. I had to choose and make judgements about what was best for my child.
After I learnt hospital, the same sentiment seemed to ooze out of many of those I encountered in relation to caring for my child. I was annoyed, and I sometimes felt desperate. ‘How can I, a first-time mum, know best?’, I wondered many times.
Well, I tell you, I think I do now. I can’t quite explain how it happened; but I know that as I journey on the motherhood road, my confidence about knowing best for my child grows.
You’ve probably had moments when you felt something wasn’t right in a way those around you couldn’t see, and it worked out that your gut instinct about your child’s well-being was right.
So, you … mum … does know best for your child. The sooner you grab this knowledge by its horns, the more confident you’ll feel in your mothering. It doesn’t mean you’ll always get it right, but it means that you’ve accepted full responsibility for your child’s welfare. For me, this means having the boldness to stand up for my child and fight his corner in whatever way I can, whatever the situation.
4. Accept that it takes a village to raise a child
(don’t try to go it alone)
I found this really hard to take on board before I had my little one. I like my cosy little life and I don’t like relying on others for help. I was however, dumbfounded by the amount of support I needed after having Precious Sparkle. I went from being a confident professional who relatively had life in hand, to a vulnerable wreck who needed help all the time.
It took me quite a while to see and accept that raising children is designed to be more than a nuclear family’s affair, it’s a community endeavour. Accepting that I need others has been such a blessing … phew, what a relief, I don’t have to shoulder all it means to have a child alone, it can be shared … hooray!
5. Remember you’re a steward not an owner
I believe children are a child from God. We don’t own them, they are a full life in their own right. I have found it helpful to remember that I have the privilege of nourishing and nurturing my child for a time, to help him grow into all he can be. He is not my property or another chance to fulfil my dreams.
Accepting this helps me not to be possessive of him … to give him the freedom and space to grow … and I think it makes our relationship healthier.
There you have it, my top 5 ways of keeping up with motherhood.
How do you keep up with motherhood? Would you add anything to this list?
My April 2015 #AtoZChallenge: Considering my Motherhood journey from A – Z
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C for Crawling baby Climbing Toddler || D for Dry Skin not Eczema || E is for Exploring Toddler
F is for Frugi: Top 5 || G for Grapes in Baby Led Weaning || H is for Hiccups || I is for Immunization
J is for Judging and Being Judged: 2 Key Lessons
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