In an interview ten months after my daughter was born, I was asked whether I felt I would be able to take on the job and its responsibilities. Incredulous, I responded, “You want me to come here, where there is a structure, clear verbal communication that doesn’t involve crying or guess work, and you’re asking if I can manage?”
He had no clue of the often hilarious and Herculean obstacles I’d managed in the last few months, the first of which was getting out of my pyjamas.
Pre-baby, I had an image of how I would look once I was a mother. In hindsight my hope to look like a glossy earth mother was a little unrealistic. The mornings were chaos, and I found it hard to take a shower let alone get made-up: inevitably when I left baby in her bassinet and drew the curtain to the shower, she’d start howling. Eventually I learnt that if I wanted to look anything like I hoped, I needed to get up early and into the shower before her father, so I could relax into my morning routine.
Another lesson was the military operation of getting everyone and everything out of the door at the same time. Sometimes I had baby, sometimes I had baby in the buggy with my purse. Other times I had the keys, baby, but no buggy and no extra nappy. Often I would get to the door, stop myself and ask what I was headed out for? In the end I just taped a check list next to the door.
As well as the clumsy slapstick routine of going out, I found finishing sentences impossible. I would start with the best of intentions. It would go something like this “So tell me, how has work….ooooh darling sweets (accompanied by bouncing, and hip swaying if I was standing) that’s a big burp!” It was entirely confusing for my friends, and of course very disorienting for me. It did teach me just how tangential my thinking could get, and helped me acquaint myself with previously unknown and creative parts of my brain.
Finally, leaking breasts! I don’t mean the odd trickle - mildly acceptable for the glossy earth mother I earlier described. I mean as if the showerhead was streaming on full power. I will say that in these situations having a baby to cuddle tightly against the offending leakage was very handy. Either way when I look back to the comically frantic time when I first began this mothering experience, I have to laugh at myself. In hindsight, it all passes far too quickly but getting comfortable in your new routine, and making time within it to look, feel, and sound like yourself is important. Yes, you’re a mother now, and you were, and continue to be a whole interesting woman and that shouldn’t be lost.