April 12th 2015
Doing It All
The 10 biggest lies new mums tell ourselves
April 26th 2015 / 1 comment
You start out full of hopes and dreams, and one by one they are shattered like so many pelvic regions
I've chronicled before all the lies that mums tell non-mums. But that's nothing compared with how dishonest we are with ourselves, from the moment we wee on a Clearblue stick and realise that it's got to come out somehow... but decide we'll be FINE because there's a lot you can do with breathing techniques.
1. “Other people need to hear my birth story”
There was a period of several months when I would give a detailed account of my daughter’s childbirth to anyone with two ears who approached. And I do mean detailed, from early labour to reaching down, feeling her head and deliriously wailing “OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT???” to the midwife. Even the stitches were not left out. So, um, sorry everyone.
2. “Nothing will change”
Totally true, apart from your body, relationship, career, finances and freedom to be out in the world.
3. “My child will be different”
How smugly I used to watch other people try to wrangle their children into behaving in public. I firmly believed that I would control my child by sheer force of will - after all, I had once watched half an episode of Supernanny.
It all went fine during the newborn phase, but now that the toddler years are here, I find myself living with a tiny, angry troll who only knows the words “NO”, “stop it” and “that’s MINE”. There is an element of Supernanny, though: sometimes if I don’t do what she wants, she sends me for time out.
4. “I will not become my mother”
I mean, I think we have a different shoe size, so that’s something…
5. “Buying X will help”
If you’re naturally suggestible when it comes to shopping - to find out whether this is the case, check your wardrobe for a pair of “life-changing” 5in heels, still box fresh - there’s an entire industry ready to take advantage of your stupidity now that you’re a mother.
It has come up with inflatable baby beds that supposedly mimic the womb (and cost £80, and last two weeks). Top and tail bowls (surprisingly structurally similar to, erm, a bowl). Video monitors. Foam floor tiles. Baby helmets. Toddler probiotics. Nasal freaking aspirators, for goodness’ sake.
Buying this stuff might make you feel better, but in reality it’s about as much use as those heels.
6. “These next-size-up jeans are only temporary”
“I keep telling myself that I will be back to pre-baby shape in 3/6/12/18 months. The timing shifts but everything else stays the same,” says my friend Nicola (she looks exactly the same to me but admittedly I have ballooned myself so this view may be relative).
7. “Another glass of wine won’t matter…”
Cut to 6.30am: nausea rising, pain positively radiating into your head, a small child sweetly demanding attention from the next room. The first words out of your desert-dry mouth? “Why did I drink that last glass of wine?”
8. “I will never become a baby bore”
“I never ever thought I would be one of those annoying people who constantly posts baby pictures on social media,” says my friend Sammy, who has only put five pictures of her two-month-old on Facebook the past 24 hours, which I consider to be quite good going.
9. “We are NEVER doing this again”
Everyone has this thought at some point, and it’s usually total BS. Nature makes you forget, because let's be honest, if we remembered everything the first few months threw at us the human race would die out.
10. “Everyone should do the same as me”
Every mother is secretly a bit smug about some aspect of her parenting. We’re so keen to pass on this hard-learned lesson about what works for us - or perhaps we find it reassuring to see others do the same - we can tend to believe that everyone we know should breastfeed, bottle feed, give up work, ban TV, co-sleep, implement a rigidly policed routine, cook and eat their own placenta, or whatever it was we did.
After Gina Ford's Contented Little Baby Book got my daughter to sleep through the night, I became the motherhood equivalent of a Jehovah's Witness, telling everyone the Good News that if they abandoned their entire philosophy of attachment parenting and gave up ever going out at lunchtime, they too could get a 7pm-7am sleeper.
Unbelievably, some of these people are still my friends, possibly because they realised long before I did that there is no one truth, no one way to do it. We’re all just muddling through, and once you realise that you like yourself and everyone else a lot more.