The illusion of Motherhood.
Call me naive but I had great hopes for my spell off work on maternity leave. Maybe, I am just too new at this whole baby game and Motherhood to understand exactly how much work a newborn entails and how little time there is left for leisure.
Perhaps if I had been more in the know and more accepting of a new lifestyle change I’d have not been hit with such a harsh reality and have my illusion of maternity leave shattered. Perhaps if I were wiser, I’d have foreseen that with Motherhood and maternity leave, there are no dreamy illusions.
Let’s get to the point, with a spell of maternity leave from work, I had such great expectations and ideas.
For a start, I believed that I would still be able to get up and get dressed each morning, to pick out a pretty outfit and to do my make up and my hair real nice. I believed I would have the time and then some to feel like myself all while nursing a newborn. My baby would sleep and I would have all the time in the world to take a hot shower and get myself ready each and every day. Yeah right. I was met with a harsh reality. A reality that is now every day life. A reality that is now me.
I’m afraid to say that maternity leave is not all I expected it to be, at least not at this initial first stage. I lack the time to shower and get myself ready, I don’t have time to bake homely goods and make the dinner that I’ve been perfecting out of the dozens of recipe books I own and I certainly don’t have time to be heading out on leisurely shopping and coffee trips. The only escape I have from my reality is through writing my blog and even with that, I’m still plugged into Motherhood. There’s no escape. I am completely consumed.
I am lucky if I have ten minutes to myself to have a cup of coffee and settle down to one of the books I bought myself as a treat for maternity leave. I cannot watch a TV show without the interruptions of a hungry baby demanding to be fed and I certainly don’t have the opportunity to work on my culinary skills.
In fact, I lack so much time that dinner is a slap up meal that’s come straight out of the oven, or in my case, a bowl of cereal which I dribble all down myself and my baby as I nurse her while I eat with one hand. My fiance has been living on beans and various forms of supermarket frozen meats. The occasional vegetable thrown into the mix for good measure. I swear I will make a good wife yet..
Baking? Well, you can forget that, I can barely make it out to the supermarket alone to collect baking supplies, never mind start the baking in question. I did once love to bake and I wanted to try to improve on this while I have time off to do so.I could becoke and frequent baker and teach my daughter the skills but I have found that i lack the time, the energy and the motivation for any form of creativity right now. The carrot cake has been put on hold. Baking can wait.
Yes, maternity leave was full of high and mighty expectations. I had so much plans. I could join all of the mum and baby clubs, I could have coffee dates daily, go out and take a shopping trip each week – one that wasn’t met with a dose of anxiety as I waited for my baby to kick off and begin to cry and fuss in public. Hell, maybe I could even join the gym and go to some classes in the day time. Meet some new people. Make some new friends.
Friends are something that I lack, and always have. In primary school and even into secondary school I found I never really fitted in to any friendship groups or any clubs. I’ve always been a it of a lone wolf. It’s not that I don’t try to make friends, it’s just I’m a bit socially awkward and as an introvert, I really struggle in a social setting and meeting new people is a very big deal. I also don’t do touching..
Let me elaborate. You know that friendly hug that people do? That friendly peck on the cheek? The type that you never know which way to turn or wether you are meant to return that peck? Yeah? Well, you can guarantee I’m shying away and half way out the door before anyone is touching me. I don’t do hugs.
Let me mention that I’m also a bag of nerves when I’m out alone. Especially these days. I didn’t quite come to imagine this is how life would be spent with my newborn on our maternity leave. I certainly haven’t signed up to any baby clubs and I don’t know if I will. I don’t think it’s for me and I don’t feel I will fit in to the local mum clubs. Does that make me a bad mum?
Most days I spend at home with Eleanor and meet her demands as and when required. Around the clock nappy changes and feeds met with the household tasks in between and whatever I can catch of a TV show. I have become nothing more than a Mother.
The best job in the world some might say and sure, I love being a Mother. I love having my baby and feeling such a string bond with her, a bond I haven’t experienced with any other. I love that I have someone who depends on me, who needs me. I have someone I am responsible for and someone who gives me a reason to be the best I can be. However, I fear that I may be losing my identity at the same time as I find my feet in the journey of parenthood. I am not really myself anymore, I’m in a mum zone and can only relate to all things baby. My mind doesn’t see past baby and I lose concentration easily.
No, maternity leave is not as creative or as fun as I had hoped. It can be lonely, days can be long and it can be grueling. You get some days when you fail to function. If it weren’t for auto pilot kicking in, I fear I’d not be able to move from my spot on the sofa to see to my baby. That’s the extreme days though and no, not each day is like that.
If and when I enter the outside world, I prefer to have my mum or Euan with me, I can’t stand to be out alone with Eleanor. It’s much easier to take her out with company. I feel less alone and have help at hand if I need it.
I know that I shouldn’t worry if she does fuss while in public, she is after all a baby and it is expected. A great anxiety builds within me each time I leave the home and If I’m alone, all I want to do is run back home before I begin to cry. I feel myself well up and have to try hold back from crying whenever I step out alone. That sounds crazy. I know.
Wait, have I gone crazy?!
Even just nipping five minutes down the road and queuing in the local shop to buy a sandwich and a tin of juice for lunch has my body twitching with nerves. I never used to be so anxious but since having Eleanor, I’ve definitely noticed I have become a bit of a nervous wreck. I can’t pin point why. It’s perhaps just a phase which will pass, I’m sure if I asked any health professional that’s what they would tell me anyway. It seems to be all they tell me.
I had planned to look the part of the stay at home mum, all while making the home look nice and stay that way. I wanted to work on my culinary skills, to bake lots. I wanted to still take the time to look good, not only for myself but for my fiance to admire each time he walked in the door. I didn’t want to have my baby and let myself go.
Yep, I set the standards high for myself and I expected to meet them. It’s safe to say, any standards I has set for myself are regularly not met. I’m on a losing streak.
In honesty, yes I shower every day but I don’t often have the time to dry my hair, make up is either half done or not at all and I don’t have the time to pick out one of the many pretty dresses I own. I live in a £2 Primark bra that kind of fits my swollen breastfeeding breasts, jogging bottoms and a dressing gown with slippers that are too small and squish my toes. Real glamorous.
You can often find me changing from one over worn t shirt to the next in between baby naps due to excessive sweating as a result of breastfeeding and my hormones. Maternity leave will be so much fun she said..
I don’t get the time to sit and read a book with a hot drink, I don’t watch the TV, sure it’s on as background noise but that’s all that it is. I certainly don’t cook and the most nutrition I get is from my daily dose of vitamins – which I swear by, by the way.
I wanted to be the picture of a stay at home mum. The type of mum who plays an active part on the local baby clubs and the mum community. The type which I have come to realise that you only find on those far fetched American TV shows. The TV shows aren’t true to form, trust me. It’s all an illusion and Motherhood is not glamorous.
I wanted to be the type of mum that you see on adverts and wonder how she does it. Wonder how her home can be so clean, her meals so wholesome and her face immaculately painted all with the happy baby in the fresh white baby grow and the smug smile to match. The bitch.
Maternity leave is nothing like I had imagined and I find it quite difficult to adapt to having the time off but failing to meet any of my expectations of this time. I get out with the help from my Mother, I have no friends near by that I can simply just meet up with and even if I could getting out the house is a big effort which leaves me a little drained.
I’ve even began to do the weekly food shop online because getting out to do it was too much of a challenge and it stressed me out to the point that I’d end up in a bad mood and feeling upset.
Maternity leave is like nothing I had imagined. It isn’t glamorous, I don’t get to look nice I often feel like a bit of a hag with terrible eye bags and a headache that does not leave me. I’m tired, nervous and a bit behind on the household tasks.
However,what I have learned during this stage of maternity leave is that I love my baby. I love her so much that almost none of the above matters, what matters is caring for my child,not how good I look or how good I smell as I care for her. What matters is that I raise my baby well and do the best that I can along the way.
Perhaps right now we aren’t fine dining, I’m not in the best shape I have been and the house is a bit dusty. Perhaps I am not top of the mum committee’s and perhaps I am missing out on a good old shopping and lunch trip but this is only right now. It’s just the beginning. Maybe someday I will get it right and I will be able to find the balance. Is there ever a happy balance post baby?
Someday, I’ll be that mum from the adverts and I’ll be able to provide good meals, fresh bakes all while looking good and having the home sparkle. Yeah right…
One can dream, the reality is that life is not how I expected post natal and I didn’t expect to spend my time on maternity leave slumming it but that’s how it is and this is my reality. My baby is happy and my fiance never goes hungry so I suppose I’m winning in my own way. It’s not picture perfect but I am learning to deal with the fact it never will be.
I can’t do it all, no matter how much I would love to. Shout out to all of the mum’s out there doing the best that they can. If your reading this, you are probably most definitely doing better than me.