5 Things I Know About Motherhood
This weeks Easter holidays have given me time to thing. Amongst the chaos of kids, hopped up on Easter Bunnies, and while I haven't been able to get an actual work done, there is, strangely, time to reflect.
I started writing an article about things I've learnt from hypnobirthing. That sort of morphed into something darker & more political, which I'm sitting on for a couple of days (and which is strangely well timed with Teresa May's chit chat on the gender pay gap). And finally, this sort of spilled out.
So, here it is - take a couple of minutes to read this over a cuppa, and let me know what I've missed...!
1) IT IS POSSIBLE FOR TWO COMPLETELY OPPOSITE & CONFLICTING THINGS TO EXIST AT THE SAME TIME We live in quite a binary age - there isn't much space for grey areas, or alternating between one position and another. But I think that's what much of motherhood actually is. For example, it's possible to be excited about having a baby, but feel a bit anxious & trepidatious about birth. You can revel in your role as Mother, and at the same be frustrated by the limitations & restrictions it imposes on you. You can be married to the man of your dreams, and still want to drive a bread knife through his ribs while he slumbers his way through the umpteenth night-feed. It's possible to LOVE your children with the power of your heart, and at the same time feel blinding fury at asking them to PUT THEIR BLOODY SHOES ON again. This sort of fluctuation, the consistently inconsistent ebb & flow of life at the top of the family tree, is something that *some* genders complain about, and find hard to navigate (yep, Men, I'm looking at you), but it's a truth rarely acknowledged. In fact, I'd go as far as to say it's disparaged, and dismissed. So here I am, acknowledging it. And if you're feeling it today (delighted to be pregnant + hugely fucked off with swollen feet/nausea/indigestion, or, flush with love at your gorgeous cherubs + ready to put them out for the bin men) then I salute you, Sister, and I stand with you.
2) TIME IS AN INTRINSIC COMPONENT OF MOTHERHOOD From the length of your pregnancy, to the length of your labour. From timed contractions, to the time between feeds, nappies & naps. Whether it's flying by because they're growing too fast, or dragging it's heels through another endless afternoon of Fourth Trimester cluster feeding. From *my* mothers regular declaration that there are simply not enough hours in the day. And *my* constant lateness, hurtling from one drama to the next (I was never late before the children) Mothering. Is. All. About. Time. You can use this to your advantage - time distortion is one of the coping strategies we wise old hypnobirthing birds teach for birth - but however insightful & calm you are, it can be a challenge. My best advice for this, is to use the very thing against itself. When time is biting you on the arse, take some. Stop for 5 minutes. Close your eyes. Breathe. Draw your attention to your butt on your chair, and the environment around you and count your breaths. Get into a good, deep, slow, breathing rhythm. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a break. And accept it for what it is. It won't be the same tomorrow, nothing will. You are doing your best. You have this.
3) SOCIAL MEDIA CAN BE A FORCE FOR GOOD So social media has a pretty diverse reputation. It's largely responsible for a total shift in our intimacy boundaries, and for a disproportionate obsession with mobile phones, but for mothers, social media has been a marvellous thing (overall). When I was pregnant with Thing #1 8 years ago, there was very, very little in the way of positive information around birth. But now, with photo's of birth on Instagram, with Positive Birth meetings accessible via Facebook, and the rest, it's far easier to find good news about good birth. It's still not ok - there is still far too much imbalance, judgement and fear mongering going on - but it's much easier to start to redress the balance. Seek, and these days ye can be pretty confident ye shall find.
4) BIRTH IS TABOO And wow, this is a big one. For something that happens to 82% of 51% of the population, that is an experience we all have, I'm endlessly surprised by how squeamish people can be about it.
Pretty much everything about birth makes it taboo for us; there's blood, poo, human milk, women's genitals, a whiff of sex, oxytocin (which is private & personal & intimate), primal effort, active internal focus, intuition, raw power, creation, uncertainty, a real & intellectual proximity to death, an unwillingness to be forecast or controlled, and femaleness. So much of this is perceived through prisms of indignity, suffering.
Each of these things contribute to our unease around labour & birth - and because so many labours & births are segregated away in hospitals, we don't see them in real life, So our greatest exposure to them is in drama, when the intention is to raise our pulses & engage our voyeurism & interest. The thing about taboos, though, is that while for some people they mean forbidden, for others they mean sacred. I'm not a big one for the spiritual woo, but I ABSOLUTELY DO want to help women access their power, and allow them to feel respected & revered in their pregnancy, their births & their mothering. Yeah!
5) I AM CAPABLE OF MAKING SWEEPING GENERALIZATIONS, BUT IT DOESN'T MAKE THEM LESS TRUE OK. So all this stuff is anecdotal. But it's pretty well true! I reckon most of you who are already mothers will be nodding along - and those of you who are about to make that transition might remember this in a couple of months or years and quietly nod along too.
Happy Wednesday, y'all.