Author: Georgina Barrick
This year, I became a mother.
Unlike any other life role that I've taken on, motherhood is one that I now know I really couldn't adequately prepare for. Sure, I read a few parenting books, babysat nephews and godchildren and spent loads of time with friends and their children. I even spent a year, post degree, working as an au pair. Yet, nothing could fully prepare me for being 100% responsible for my own tiny human.
A tiny little human who I couldn't communicate with conventionally - and who definitely had his own ideas about how things would work.
Motherhood is a job where you have all of the responsibility, but none of the control.
It's completely life-changing – in many ways.
The rush of love – and responsibility – that you feel for your child is indescribable. Watching a little human grow, learn about the world and blossom in your care is truly one of life's best and most wonderful experiences.
And, then there's the tough stuff…
The broken sleep. The relentless drudgery of bottles, nappies and trying to settle into a routine. Feeling like your old life (with personal free time, interesting conversations and spontaneity) is gone. Trying to balance work deadlines with infant needs. Meeting friends in the brief window between sleeps and feeds. Dealing with the sheer 'messiness' of baby stuff all over the house.
Add to this the fact that you're often so tired and so inexperienced that each mistake feels like you've ruined all hope that your child will turn out all right. It's no wonder so few of us feel like we're really nailing this motherhood thing (especially in the early days).
There is no doubt that, as rewarding as motherhood is, it's one of the toughest jobs I've ever had (especially as a single parent). With the benefit of hindsight (and a bit of distance), I can say that the early months were mind-numbingly boring, emotionally draining and physically exhausting.
What strikes me, though, is that it's often impossible to tell that other mothers are also struggling. No-one really wants to talk about how hard motherhood actually is, making it feel that it's like 'Fight Club' for mothers.
Even my own Instagram is full of beautifully curated 'Mom and baby' images, with gorgeous, blow-dried hair and not a baby vomit stain in sight. When I'm out shopping, all of the Moms that I see appear so calm and 'together'. In baby groups, we seldom talk about how sleep-deprived we are, lest we look like 'that' mother who, in the sea of calm, just isn't coping.
As a group, it seems almost impossible to let down our guard and have a really 'no-holds barred' conversation about how ill-prepared we are and just how overwhelming it can feel to swop the boardroom for the baby group.
Because, that would be complaining – or admitting that we aren't perfect. Which would be unacceptable. Simply put, being truthful about how we feel makes us vulnerable to others thinking that we're a bad Mum.
Let's be honest.
So much of motherhood is about just winging it. There are parts of it that stink (often literally!).
I've gone from being my own boss to being completely at the mercy of the whims and desires of my son. I've had to accept that I'll never come first again. I'll never have the crispiest piece of chicken skin, eat the last sweet or get to lick the cake icing bowl because he'll do or get those things now.
But, in accepting this, I've learned that motherhood is the ultimate lesson in selfless leadership.
As a mother, I simply cannot be selfish or self-centred. As I've settled into the role and let go of my old way of life, my focus has shifted towards facilitating the success of my child. I'm starting to understand that I can use my power for the benefit of the little person who now follows my lead. And, this has led me into thinking about how I can model the right behaviour to help him become successful, kind and self-aware – and empower and uplift him.
Yes, at home, I'm now the leader with all of the responsibility and none of the control.
Yet, I've realised that this isn't about me anymore. It's about my child and how I can give service to the worthy cause of raising him to be a good human being.
And, that's what motherhood is really about for me now.
As Jessica Lange said..
'The natural state of motherhood is unselfishness. When you become a mother, you are no longer the centre of your own universe. You relinquish that position to your children.' #truestory