I know that parenthood, in general, is riddled with insecurities, and women face their own series of challenges, both from society and within. Breastfeeding vs. formula. Childminder vs. creche. Immunisations vs. Jenny McCarthy (For the record: Please vaccinate your kids). Disposable vs. cloth. The list is never-ending. Below is a list of 20 of what I feel are the greatest myths about motherhood:
1. You'll love your baby instantly - You may feel everything. You may feel nothing. It is perfectly natural to feel disconnected from your baby. It can take days, weeks or months to begin to bond.
2. There's a right way to give birth - Nope. You can have all the plans but when it comes to it, isn't your baby arriving safely all that matters? Everything else is irrelevant. Pain relief or no pain relief. Forceps or not. Section or Vaginal. It's kind of like your leaving cert results, it matters at the time but a year down the road, isn't so important after all.
3. There's a right way to parent - Ha ha, ha ha ha. You've not dealt with a toddler if you think this. You'll try almost anything.
4. You'll never have a negative thought towards your child - Ha ha, ha ha ha (this could be my answer to a lot of these).
5. If you breastfeed your baby won't get sick - So not true! I felt rather robbed when, at 7 days old, our little one caught a cold. I thought my milk wasn't good enough. All I had seen was that the baby would never have a cold or runny nose.
6. You'll love being a mama, ALL of the time. - Not true. There are days you'll want to run into oncoming traffic for a few nights sleep in hospital and meals handed to you.
7. It will come naturally to you - Nope. It's a learned skill. It's a process of elimination in those early days ( and for the rest of their days). You learn all of their little cries. You're not the only mammy to wonder if they're hungry, tired or just need a cuddle.
8. You must prioritise your child over yourself - No. You need to ensure you are happy. If you're not happy, your child will sense it and you'll pass on your bad ju ju to them. We feel guilty for taking some 'me time'. This can be 15 minutes in the shower, uninterrupted, or a night away. Whatever you need. Take it.
9. Waiting until you're ready - ha ha, ha ha ha. You'll never be ready. EVER.
10. Being a young mum is undesirable - Need I say more? There are 40-year-olds less mature than I was at 24 (when I gave birth to my first child). It's not about age. You do you.
11. You know what you're doing - Not always. I still reach out to other mammies on behavioural issues. You learn as you go, and it certainly takes a village (if not two) to raise a child. We're only human and can't be expected to have all of the answers.
12. We know exactly what our child wants - Granted we have a fair idea most of the time, but there are times you quite literally just want to stand and scream "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?"
13. We don't need breaks - You may not feel like it now. I didn't on baby number 1. This time around, any hour I can get is treasured.
14. That all mother's feel the same way - No. We don't. What's right for one, is wrong for another. Find what works for you and stick with it.
15. New parents don't need to be taken care of - New parents are just that, new parents. It can never be said enough. If you have a friend or family member who has just given birth, bring food. Don't ask because chances are, they'll say "no, we're fine, really". They're not fine. They want you to think they are but realistically they're just keeping their heads above water. Buy food, order food, make food and drop it over. Call over and sit with the baby while you send Mum to the shower. Again, don't ask (never ask).
16. All other mother's cope much better than me - we all lose our sh!t. Any mother who says otherwise is lying. Simple. Stop measuring yourself based on a faulty image. Find a fellow mammy you can trust to be real with you. It's so important to have that in your life. We're all in the same boat, and if you're thinking it chances are most of us have had a similar thought.
17. A good mother cleans her house and has a homemade meal on the table every day - look, there'll be days you'll feel like super woman. You've managed to get all of the washing done. Ironing done (and put away). House has been cleaned from top to bottom. Bed clothes have been washed and beds remade. Couch covers have been washed and back on the couch. You'll have a roast dinner cooked and all of your admin will have been seen to earlier that morning. You'll even have been to the woods with the kids for an hour. And then there'll be days where you barely feed the kids and put a pair of clean underwear on. Everything in moderation, eh?
18. If your child misbehaves, you're not doing a good job - Nope, not true. Kids go through so much in those formative years. Emotions are high and they don't quite know how to manage them. There's a lot of acting out. It's just a fact of life.
19. A baby will only bring strength and joy to your relationship - Having a baby is the biggest test your relationship will face. You have to find your new balance (which is not easy and less so on subsequent pregnancies). There is less and less time for you as a couple. It becomes something you have to consciously work at and put effort in where you might not have had to pre-baby.
20. A good mother makes sure everything goes to plan - A plan? What's that?