I had no idea how challenging navigating the parenting journey was going to be. I was one of those little girls who always wanted to be a mummy, I wanted babies and perhaps toddlers but I never thought of life beyond a cute little two-year-old. I didn’t have a picture of myself as a mum of real life school age children or even scarier, teenagers.
I had my first child in my mid-thirties, and proceeded to have two more soon after – three kids under four years old. I’d had three fun, quite magical pregnancies, I won’t mention the not so magical births, and three incredible, healthy, routine loving babies.
It was love at first sight the moment I laid eyes on each precious little soul, the strongest, strangest love I’d ever experienced.
Bringing a new baby home came with the usual anxiousness and sleepless nights and like every parent, moments of sheer exhaustion. There were a few nights where sleep deprivation ruled and I couldn’t believe how hard it was to function on the most basic level. Yet, the intense love for these tiny precious beings never waned. I loved being a mother, I loved holding these tiny babies to my chest, I loved feeding them from my breast, I loved changing their clothes, I loved baby things – cots, prams, blankets & bottles – but most of all, I loved their smell, their tiny fingers and perfect toes and I couldn’t believe that these tiny humans had grown inside my body. I didn’t want them to grow up.
Yet, for years I felt like an impostor, the mother of all frauds; I felt like someone was going to come and tell me ‘game over, you can stop playing mummy’s now, you’re clearly not ready – back to the office with you’. Motherhood for me was like living in a dream – a good one – but I was waiting for reality to hit when it would be taken away. I could have been just really really tired, or, perhaps it was that I had been a carefree, wildly independent ‘youth’ for such a long time that the change in lifestyle was really dramatic. My loss of identity was hard and confusing; I really didn’t know who the hell the new me was.
When Sophia, our last child, was only 6 weeks old, we experienced a distressing week with her in the hospital, the seriousness of which only hit me a year later while having a shower (a rare uninterrupted shower). I had a vision of my tiny baby on the big hospital bed with wires attached to her to keep her breathing.
A week filled with worry and logistics and our baby came home and all has been well since. Yet 12 months after the event, I found myself in a pool of tears on the shower floor as I inadvertently reflected back on the gravity of the situation. It was then, as I toweled myself and my uncertainty dry, I truly understood what it was to be a mother. I validated myself, I was one. A real mum like my mum! I could switch into survival mode, remain stoic while needed and was able to keep on moving on for the sake of all others – until it was time to let go and to release, in my case that day in the shower.
My babies are now real life children, seven, five and almost four years old and there are many days when I secretly wish I’m the impostor and that my freedom is imminent.
However, I’m brave, I’ve passed the 1st test and working through the next.