Motherhood has taught me many things. But there are some lessons that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Here are 15 things motherhood taught me.
By Gemma Dawkins
1. Silence isn’t golden
Things are blissfully quiet? Someone is definitely drawing on the walls, removing every tissue from the box, or using your makeup brushes to decorate the toilet.
2. Every child is different
This is both a blessing (when you get a good sleeper after a night time terrorist) and a curse (when all your tried and tested tactics go down the drain). Enjoy the wins and let the setbacks go.
3. Simpler is better
There are complex breastfeeding outfits with the built-in zipper compartments that make breaking into a bank seem like child’s play. T-shirts lift right up. There are everything-but-the-kitchen-sink contraptions designed to keep your baby entertained with lights and colours and jangly bits. A rug on the floor also does the job. When in doubt, I’ve always found getting back to basics makes my life easier.
4. You will sleep again
Sometimes it truly doesn’t feel like it. But I promise you will.
5. Yes, you need 7000 photos
At the time, you think you’re just documenting a normal Tuesday afternoon. But look back in 6 months, a year, four years – you’ll barely remember that tiny little creature ever being so small. And you’ll be so glad you have these memories to look back on.
6. Zips. That’s it. Just zips.
You need the onesies with the zips. Not the (shudder) press studs. Definitely not buttons. And no cute toggles. Zips. Z-I-P-S. There is almost nothing about motherhood that is black and white, except for this one rule. If you know, you know.
7. You will lose yourself
Maybe not forever, and maybe not even in a bad way. But for a while there, I think most of us grapple with the shift in our identity. Whether it’s the small stuff (to mum bob or not to mum bob?) or the big stuff (will I ever be spontaneous again?) it’s ok to be a little lost. You’ll figure it out.
8. You get a new name
First it’s mama. Then mummy. Then mum. And then ‘muuuuuuum’. Each phase brings its own joys and its own challenges. No one prepares you for the way your heart lurches each time it changes.
9. Your baby isn’t the only newborn
Your baby’s birthday is also the birth of you as a mother. Give yourself the grace to be wobbly, unsure, confused. You’re new here too.
10. You can do more with one hand than you ever dreamed
Things you can do one-handed: stir a pot. Scroll Instagram. Say ‘cheers’. Settle a baby. Run a country (probably).
Things you can’t do one-handed: paint your nails.
11. You can make your own rules
For every piece of parenting advice, there’s three that disagree. The good news? You’re the boss! You make the rules! (Unfortunately, this is also the bad news).
12. You need a change of clothes too
You’ve packed three spare onesies and a wad of nappies. Good to go? 9 times out of 10, you’ll be wearing the poo. Pack yourself a spare outfit, too.
13. You’re doing a good job
Seriously. Even on the days when the iPad has said more to your toddler than you have. Even when your baby missed every nap. And even when you served toast for the third night in a row. No one is a harsher critic of your mothering than you, so be gentle on yourself.
14. Love is infinite
The biggest thing motherhood has taught me? Just when you think you couldn’t possibly love a person any harder, your heart explodes. Or you have another baby, and you realise the never-to-be-repeated love you have for your first child can expand to include your next. Either way, there will always be enough.
15. There’s always tomorrow
Some days are truly heinous. There’s no avoiding it. But even the worst day is guaranteed to end, and you get a fresh start tomorrow. There’s comfort in that.