Nothing in life has prepared me for this.
I’ve gotten this far in life using strategies, problem solving skills and resilience to deal with all sorts of situations.
I usually figure something out through trial and error, or learning by researching beforehand or watching someone else do it first.
At work, I communicate and collaborate with others and apply my knowledge and experience to come up with the best outcome. I use best practice where applicable.
But motherhood, this is different.
Strategies and problem solving skills are great in theory. Going into this (mumming) I did heaps of research, antenatal and breastfeeding classes, read all of the literature I was given by maternal health professionals and started paying closer attention to parents around me. Surely that sets me up for “success”.
Success = sustained happy child and that elusive relaxed, smug-mum feeling.
However, this job is 24/7 with no sick leave or meal breaks (I did shift work for 8 years. Name a time on the clock, I’ve started at that time and been on shift for 8-12 hours either watching paint dry (European Tour Golf) or fully involved in a LIVE sports broadcast, making editorial decisions and negotiating challenging situations on tight deadlines on the fly). Babies are unique and magnificent beings – and there is heaps we don’t know about them. Like what they want and need at any given time. And this changes for as many seconds as there are in the day.
And best practice? According to who? Parenthood opens up a world of other people’s opinions on what you should be doing. It’s so easy to dish out sage advice from the sidelines. We’ve all done it whether consciously or not. And sometimes I crave advice – or rather someone to tell me what to do at 2am when my sleep-deprived brain offers up nothing in response to an unsettled baby. Scratch that, at one point my brain showed me putting the baby down, opening the front door and wandering off into the night. Not helpful!
What am I trying to say?
Basically there’s no physical, mental or spiritual preparation for motherhood (or parenthood) that’s going to prepare you for being able to accurately respond to your child’s needs 100% of the time. Which I find frustrating. Because if I do all the things: feeding, cuddling, patting, rocking, pick up, put down, then why doesn’t that equal a sleeping, contented baby at 2am? That’s why motherhood is hard. Because it’s not exact. It’s not precise. And shovel sleep deprivation on top of self judgement and perceived judgement from other parties (even your spouse) then it’s pretty darn tough.
And I can acknowledge all of this and not be complaining about my kid or being a mum as obviously I wanted both. I’m just rationalising why I feel what I feel.