“Ring the bells that still can ring/Forget your perfect offering/There is a crack in everything/That’s how the light gets in” (Leonard Cohen)
– It’s all broken, this is not how I imagined it would be.
– He won’t breastfeed; I think he hates me.
– She fusses with me, and as soon as my nanny picks her up, she falls fast asleep!
– Everyone else’s babies sleep through the night.
Motherhood – it’s not easy, is it? When we first begin to prepare for the arrival of a new little baby, especially if it’s the first one, we just want everything to be perfect. We imagine bucolic scenes of a beautiful newborn sleeping peacefully on our white linen clad chests, while a pot of soup bubbles on the stove. Nurseries are carefully imagined and planned, the perfect pram is purchased and the hospital bag is packed with just about anything a new human being could need.
And then the baby is born. For every moment of pure joy, there is another of utter weariness, and one more of frustration. The truth is that pregnancy, birth and motherhood are not separate from life: these seasons in our lives have just the same peaks and troughs that we know to be true of human existence. Parenting a child is the embodiment of character development. I don’t believe there are many other careers or hobbies that are as incredibly mentally, physically and emotionally taxing.
Joy Kusek said it so beautifully: “The most difficult part of birth is the first year afterwards, it is the year of travail – when the soul of a woman must birth the mother inside her. The emotional labour pains of becoming a mother are far greater than the physical pangs of birth; these are the growing surges of your heart as it pushes out selfishness and fear and makes room for sacrifice and love. It is a private and silent birth of the soul, but it is no less holy than the event of childbirth, perhaps it is even more sacred.”
So moms, know this: motherhood is hard. I am six years in, and some things have got easier, but others more difficult. There will be moments of such spiritual transcendence as you hold your sleeping babies in your arms; and others when you think you might actually die if you do not sleep. Be kind to yourself, ask for help, find your tribe. Know that you are not alone.