There are many things people don’t tell you about having a baby and entering the crazy, scary, wonderful world of motherhood. Or maybe they do tell you, but at that childfree stage you’re just like “meh, they’re talking about babies again” and so your eyes glaze over and you nod every now and then whilst thinking about something else. Like how much sex and sleep you’re having. One thing I was not prepared for was the rut I would find myself in, or am currently finding myself in. I am fully aware that this is probably not the case for every new mom, or perhaps, and more likely, it is. Maybe I’m just feeling a little down today (those post-holiday blues will get ya). But hey, I’ve never been one to shy away from honesty, have I? And today I feel like writing – it’s funny how I always come back to writing when I’m feeling blue – and this is the only thing on my mind, so here it goes. I’m stuck in a rut and I’m a little bored with motherhood and I feel like I’m just not relevant anymore.
Before I had the little magical fairy child more commonly know as Shimmy Immy Sprinkle-Poof Bainborough, I always just assumed that if I ever had a kid, I would be a stay at home mom. My job title would be: mother. I would be there every day to play with and cook for and feed my child (all whilst looking fabulous, of course). I would reluctantly send it to play school and, even then, only for the morning, and perhaps I would even home school. I was going. to. be. there. goddamit. I secretly thought that moms who were career-driven and who went off to work every day, leaving their precious little ones in the hands of strangers and nannies, had a few screws loose. When one of my mama friends told me before I was even pregnant that she actually loves Monday mornings because it means that she can leave her kid and get back to the office and wear a suit and speak to real adult humans about real adult things, I smiled knowingly, but inside I was horrified. Surely she would rather be at home playing with her cute little mini-me than be siting at a desk, in traffic and in meetings all day?
Oh, how little I knew.
Fast forward to me in 2018 scrolling through biz community and careers 24 whilst breastfeeding and actively bookmarking jobs that would require me getting into my car, sitting in traffic, and being away from my child all day long. Yes, much of this searching is financially driven (I miss having my own money so much), but a large part of me also just wants to escape. To put on clothing that won’t be covered in food within five minutes, and head to a building filled with adult humans who all know who the current president of the country is, and with whom I can converse in an adult voice without pulling faces and making fart noises.
And, believe me, I know how privileged I am to be able to stay at home with my child for this first year of her existence. And, if I really wanted to, I could hire a decent breast pump and get an office job tomorrow. I could escape the house and spend most of my salary on paying someone else to care for our Little Wena. I could help contribute financially towards the medical aid and the groceries and the insurance and totally alleviate this fog of new-mom-monetary-guilt I spend a lot of my days in.
But I gave myself a year. I promised myself and my baby a year to stay at home, to exclusively breastfeed and tend to her. And I’m in the homestretch. In a couple of days, my baby girl will be ten months old, and in a couple of months she will be a year old, and I can officially wean her off breastmilk and have my body back to myself. I will be able to leave her in the care of someone else for longer than three hours without worrying about my boobs exploding or her starving. I am both petrified and excited for this stage. Petrified because I’m afraid of leaving her on her own for longer than those three hours and perhaps having some semblance of my old life back and excited because I can leave her on her own and perhaps have some semblance of my old life back. I’m mostly petrified because most days I’m not sure who I even am anymore. Who, really, is going to want to hire me or work with me? How am I going to be able to slip back into normal adult life and conversation and know who the president of the country is? Am I even freaking legit anymore? Do people actually care what I think or say? What can I bring to the table these days besides a jiggly mum-tum and a sound knowledge of nursery rhymes?
I used to be sure of my talents. So sure of the direction I was going in. The ways in which I was going to change the world.
Now I forget to put my deodorant on in the morning and study the colour of baby poo all day long.
And, of course, yes, it’s all a season, as everyone keeps saying, and in years to come I will look knowingly back at this broke-ass, self doubting rut I’m in and I will think, “I wish I had just basked in every moment and soaked up every second of those chubby toes and open-mouth kisses”. But this morning, whilst Imogen sleeps, and I mindlessly scrolled through my social media and pondered posting something, I realised that I actually have nothing to post. Nothing to say. I haven’t taken a decent picture in days. Man, I remember when I used to have to hold back on posting pictures too often. When words flew from my fingers into beautiful captions and articles and blog posts. When I could spend hours curating shit. And I miss that. Maybe it makes me sound silly, but I miss that act of creation and the interaction and the engagement that followed.
Ah, the double-edged sword of being a mom. This knowing that I will one day miss this time of my life, that I never really and truly and fully immersed myself in this fleeting stage of early motherhood; but also that I can’t help feeling that I’m missing out on other important things – opportunities and events that may never come my way again.
Is there a lesson in this? I’ve been writing and meditating on these thoughts for a while now and I’m not sure I have reached a conclusion to this post, to this feeling, to this state of being. Perhaps that is the lesson. There is no lesson. No answer. I know I’m not alone; that these thought processes have been reflected in the minds of mothers all around the world for years and years now. A ritual and initiation we all have to pass through on our journey back to finding ourselves and creating our new identity as mother. For now, I will sit in the moment. Wait for my baby to wake. I use the time she gives me now to recollect myself and steal glimpses of who I am and who I still want to become – and when she is awake I give myself fully to her. Perhaps my biggest fear is that this is simply life right now. That one day I really will actually miss these days, like everyone says. That maybe, one day when I’m old and grey, my worries today of being relevant won’t matter in the slightest. But today, in this moment, my type-A personality – the one that wants to make waves and have a voice and be heard and change the world and make a difference – is feeling trapped and is yearning for adult conversation and having the time and resources to make big magic.
I pad into my bedroom to check on her sleeping. She is quiet, rosy-cheeked, rib cage rising and falling with every breath she takes, every atom in her body growing and learning and dreaming and creating. For now, this tiny human I made and brought into being, who thrills and exhausts and tests and delights me every day… ah, well… she is my big magic.
Image: Claire Thomson Photography