Dear new mother…it’s OK

Dear new Mother,

You’ve just had a baby. It’s OK to feel happy, to feel scared, to feel sad. It’s OK to be in shock and it’s OK to feel elated. It’s OK to ask for help. In fact, you must. Please ask for help. “Help” will be your best friend, now and for years to come.

It’s OK to want some pieces of your old life back, the freedom, nights out with friends, holidays and sleep. Oh, sleep.

Your body is different now too, no doubt. It’s OK for that to feel strange. You don’t have to love your stretch marks or your soft tummy or all the other parts that feel different. You may embrace your new body, the different shape and size, the unfamiliarity, the new sensations. You may despise it. That’s OK too.

It’s OK to feel empowered by your birth experience but it’s also OK to feel broken. Perhaps it all went according to your plan but perhaps it was the birth you always feared. Talk about it with someone, take the time to heal. Rest and recover. You did it, didn’t you? It’s a cliché, I know, but your body just grew an entire new life and that’s Mother Nature’s most exquisite work. Truly, you are beautiful, OK?

img_2387
Baby Jasmine, a few days old

Oh, new Mother,

It’s hard work, right? Harder than you thought, even if it’s your dream come true? Even if you thought you were ready? I know. Motherhood is the hardest job I’ve ever done. It’s OK if it’s not all as wonderful as you imagined it would be. It’s OK if some things are unexpectedly rubbish and it’s OK if some bits aren’t much fun at all. It’s OK not to “enjoy every minute.” That’s almost impossible I’d say. You are right at the start, new Mother. You are on page 1 of chapter 1 of the longest and most magnificent book ever written. It’s OK to go slowly, not to rush. It’s OK to pause, to stay at home, to simply just be with your baby. It’s more than OK, actually. I wish I’d listened more to this advice.

I hope you know too that it’s OK if you breastfeed and it’s OK if you don’t, if you baby wear or if you don’t. It’s OK if you follow a strict routine or if you don’t, to read all the books or none at all. It’s OK if you don’t really know what you want to do. There seem to be a million different ways to be a Mother.

It’s OK if your relationships change. They’re bound to. You’re a new Mother now with a new set of priorities and a different type of day. It takes a lot to meet the needs of such a helpless little person all day long. It’s OK to miss your friends and to feel frustrated at missing out, like no-one can possibly understand what you’re going through. It’s OK to feel alone and misunderstood. You’re not alone. I understand.

You may have less time for your friends right now and that’s OK as well. Your partner may get less of your attention because you give all your kisses to the baby now. Those cheeks make it hard not to! It’s OK to feel pure joy and elation one minute then utter sadness and despair the next. It’s OK to feel jealous of those who get to sleep. It’s OK to take naps instead of doing the dishes. In fact, once again, you must! It’s OK to stay indoors and it’s OK to venture out too. It’s more than OK to stay in your pyjamas all day and it’s more than OK if your house is a mess, although I understand it’s not how you want it to be. Everything can feel like a sacrifice, can’t it?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Baby Summer, born at home

It’s OK if it takes time to fall in love. You’ve got your whole lives for that. It’ll come and when it does, it’ll grow so much that you will be amazed at the capacity of your own heart. It’s OK to struggle with the transformation, to take time to find your place with motherhood. No one starts something for the first time being perfect at it. There are no lessons in how to Mother, just millions of books and millennia of experience. Speak to others…they can help. Find those Mothers who just get you, even if they do things differently. Find the Mothers who will lift you up, offer support, reserve judgement and listen. We all need someone who can really listen. The sisterhood of Mothers is a beautiful one. Really. What a place to be. Find your tribe, your like-minded mums, your middle of the night allies.

You’re a new mother. You grew and birthed a baby and you are a miracle too. It’s OK to feel anxious, to worry, to protect. It’s OK to relax, to use your intuition and to feel totally at ease in this place. Perhaps you finally feel like you’ve arrived in yourself.

It is OK to want a break. You will need one. Take it. Take breaks so you can replenish yourself and your energy. Your love for your child won’t be questioned. It’s OK, it’s more than OK to make time for yourself. It’s OK to be taken care of. Actually, it’s vital. Let someone else make the tea, make the food, rub your shoulders. You don’t have to be perfect, to achieve as much as you used to. It’s OK for the goalposts to change.

It’s OK to break generational patterns, to carve a new lineage. It’s OK to disagree with old methods and to challenge age old advice just because you turned out alright. We are evolving, we are spiritual and emotional beings. Our children are born into a different world and we are progressing towards greatness, don’t you agree?

It’s all OK, new Mother. I guess that’s all I’m really trying to tell you.

I love you,

Naomi

 

Creativity in Motherhood

I’ve never considered myself much of a creative person. I’m the one drawing stick people and a house whilst my husband Ben is sketching faces full of character. I’m just no good at drawing and whilst I appreciate so many forms of creativity, “creative” has just never been an adjective I would have used to describe myself.

Since Motherhood transformed my life, I’ve realised that my words are my creativity and that I crave time to write because there is just so much to say. Sometimes I feel like I could write a chapter about each day that goes by raising these kiddos and that in itself, is creative. Making time for writing has now shifted way higher up my priority list in a way that I never expected. As Mothers, we devote our days to our small people and at times, the days can feel repetitive, tiresome and like one big exercise in planning and logistics.

Just as others may crave going for a run, making a new recipe, planning a yoga sequence, sinking into a good book or perhaps good old retail therapy, for me, having an outlet to write and share my emotions, tell stories, write poems and document the highs and lows of this motherhood journey…that’s my creativity. My blogs and even my Instagram captions are a way for me to write about my life now, as it happens. To write about my children, my emotions, my joys and my vulnerabilities. To write about my interests and my learnings, a place to write about my personal growth and for those words to then exist as something concrete and outside of my mind, for my children to one day read, for others to read if they choose to and for me to treasure as my work.

Writing has become a therapeutic outlet. It’s my way of trying to make sense of the craziness of life and be it about pregnancy, babies, toddlers, veganism, minimalism or anything else at all, it doesn’t matter. It’s the process of creating something that matters. The process of pouring words out and working on them until they mirror the emotions in my mind and the feelings in my body so that anyone who reads them can “get it” too.

I have developed a new appreciation for creativity, in particular around the theme of motherhood. I value what is being created by Mothers, for Mother’s whether that is art, music, podcasts, blogs, comedy, books, interiors, clothing and more.

These words are my art, my contribution to the female collective, to the sisterhood of Mothers and most importantly, for myself.

“Excuse the face,” and other things Mums need to stop saying

“Excuse the face,” is probably something you’re either guilty of saying or privy to hearing amongst your Mum friends or maybe just your female friends in general. If it’s not that then maybe it’s, “I haven’t even put any makeup on today,” “gosh, I look so rough,” “excuse the bags under my eyes” or, “sorry I look such a mess.”  We are full of these apologies, prefixing conversations or meet ups with friends with a comment about our seemingly less than acceptable appearance, as if the need to do so comes as a priority before anything else we may want to say.

I am so guilty of this. So guilty. I apologise for the way I look or the way my house looks all the time….even to my best friends! Although it’s often very true that as a busy and extremely sleep deprived mum of two, I haven’t put makeup on or do in fact have bags under my eyes, this is just my daily reality. I don’t feel my best or my most confident but I do not need to apologise for this. If I take a photo to capture a real and present moment of my motherhood life and see my bare face, my dressing gown and my wild postpartum hair, my immediate reaction is to find fault. Even when it’s a moment I want to cherish or share, I see my greasy hair in a mum bun and those pesky tired eyes and feel like it’s not good enough, that my appearance or the dirty dishes in the background take centre stage over the looks on my girls faces as we cuddle on the sofa first thing in the morning.

IMG_0474

Although it may be stating the very obvious, we do not need to apologise for our appearance to anyone and especially not to other Mums. We are a collective group of super women doing the hardest job in the world and we are worth so much more than our appearance. We are up all night, surviving on very little sleep, making sure the needs of small people are met all day long and yet we still feel the need to look a certain way in order to feel OK about ourselves.

Our tired eyes and messy hair exist because we are working our butts off with barely a second to ourselves. Our clothes are stained and our floors are dirty because we are mothering all day long and getting the kids’ breakfast ready comes higher up the list than applying foundation.

eb2313de-d54a-4418-bc5d-4892f56e6508

Do you know what the most crazy part is? When we bring children into the world we are at our most vulnerable. Our most exposed. We are raw and unfiltered, often amongst total strangers. Nature forces us to let our guards down and become the most natural, powerful and miraculous versions of ourselves that we may ever be. Then we spend the months that follow fulfilling a societal pressure to look good (thanks Patriarchy) and apologising when we feel that we don’t. Our children hear these phrases. Our children copy our every move and learn so much of their own self worth from our actions and our words. Our children hear their mothers apologising for how they look but not their fathers.

IMG_5979

Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel good in our own skin and if you choose to make that a priority, more power to you! I for one would love to have time to blow dry my hair or put makeup on every morning and I know in many ways I would feel better for it. I would feel more confident, more uplifted and more like myself. Makeup can give us that little boost when we don’t otherwise feel great, but please, let’s stop excusing ourselves to others. Let’s talk about what we are achieving, succeeding at or most importantly how we are feeling. “I had such little sleep last night so I’m not feeling great,” is so much better than, “I had such little sleep last night so I look awful,” because I think really, that is what we are trying to say. I’m not feeling great and could really use some more sleep. I’d love some time to myself because I’m feeling overwhelmed. Can you help with the dishes because I’m feeling like there’s too much to do. That’s what we really want to say, isn’t it?

So next time you’re about to utter an apology for your face, just remember this. Our children never judge us for the way we look. I’ve often thought about how I get the same happy smiles and the same kisses and cuddles from my girls whether I’ve just rolled out of bed or whether I’m wearing makeup and have my hair done. It’s like they just don’t see any difference or even if they do, it changes nothing for them. I’m just their Mummy and any version of me will do just perfectly.

IMG_8343