When you have children you shed your old skin like a snake and Motherhood is woven into the new one. While your role is to care for, teach and nurture your children, you realise you have become a student again too.
Motherhood’s lessons can be brutal – she takes no prisoners. It’s not for sissies, that’s for sure. But after a while, when Motherhood has held your hand through all the joys, stresses and frustrations she has brought you, you begin to realise just how much you’ve learned and how thankful you are that Motherhood was the teacher.
Here are ten things I have learned since becoming a mum:
1 Who I Really Am
When I look back to my pre-children days, I can now see that I had no idea who I was and what I wanted from life. I went with the flow, my strengths and weaknesses were never truly tested in the way they are when Motherhood has her finger on the pulse.
Motherhood appeared on the scene like a full length mirror. She said, ‘Have a good look. This is who you really are, like it or not’. In all honesty, I didn’t much like a lot of what I saw. But thanks to Motherhood’s patience and determination I was able to change and start transforming into the person my kids deserve me to be.
I’m not perfect, I never will be. Who is? Motherhood has highlighted my imperfections and allowed be to accept and forgive them and then most importantly – work with them.
2. To Appreciate the Small Things
I always thought the defining moments in life were the big ones. Graduating, landing a good job, buying a house, going on a dream holiday and so on. I was never really present before I had kids, my mind always racing ahead to covet the next big prize.
Motherhood has taught me that the most joy can be found in the everyday moments. Moments you don’t plan and work towards. Moments such as my kids laughing and playing in the paddling pool. Or watching my husband piggy back them around the garden before they all collapse in laughter. A sleeping baby snuggled on my chest. The sound of my toddler saying, ‘Wuv woo Mummy!’ Singing and dancing around the kitchen to questionable 90s music. That sort of thing.
Life is a tapestry woven together by moments like these. The thread interlacing each moment is thin and delicate. If you’re not careful, if your mind is somewhere else, you can blink and miss these beautiful moments altogether.
3. To Appreciate ‘Me-Time’
Before children, I didn’t really have any concept of what ‘me-time’ was. Yes there was work of course but there were also weekend lie-ins, holidays, long baths, pamper days and lazy times spent doing what I wanted to do. Motherhood claimed all that with a cheeky grin and a knowing wink. For some time it is gone.
What she has given back instead, is a deep appreciation and gratitude for any limited amount of me-time I am offered. This can be something as ridiculous as a trip to Tesco alone. If I ever have a spare hour to go to Costa and read my book, I savour every second in the same way I’d savour each mouthful of a decadent chocolate cake.
Not a moment of me-time is wasted nowadays; each one being deeply appreciated.
4. Love Never Dies
My second daughter died at one day old. I worried for a long time that as time ticked on I would lose my limited memories of her, that my feelings would fade because our time together was so short. I can honestly say this hasn’t happened. If I close my eyes now, more than four years after her birth and passing, I can still see her little face, smell her hair and feel her tiny body in my arms. The love that passed between us is still as strong and fierce today as it was during the hours she lived.
Motherhood teaches you that love is eternal. It never fades. It leaves an imprint and shapes your soul. However painful that love may have been it stays forever, reaching out to you in your darkest hours like a candle which can never be blown out.
When you become a mum, you need to grow some patience and fast. This may be fine if you were a patient person to begin with but if, like me, you are naturally impatient it can be quite a task.
I’m not going to lie, I still struggle with patience but it has become much easier as the years chug on.
6. A New Relationship With Failure
I used to do anything to avoid failure. This often involved never trying in the first place. However, within motherhood failure is a daily given. I make daily mistakes and yes, I do fail as I learn. But my love for my kids makes the failures worthwhile.
Motherhood has taught me that when you truly love something (or in this case someone) you can accept the failures as you progress on your journey. Failure and success are intertwined; they are part of the same big picture. Failure is nothing to be scared of. It’s part of life.
By forgiveness, I mean the ability to forgive myself for my flaws and mistakes. Motherhood digs them up and exposes them in the most ruthless manner. You must learn the art of self-forgiveness if you want to survive.
We all make parenting mistakes, that’s a daily given. Discovering the art of learning from them, forgiving yourself and moving on is crucial.
8. To Give Up The Quest For Balance
Forget balance. It’s just not possible. Motherhood has taught me that. Furthermore, in trying to achieve it you just make yourself more miserable.
We all have too many balls in the air at any given point. Motherhood often whispers in my ear, ‘Just drop one. It’s ok. You can pick it up tomorrow.’
You know what? She’s right. I can’t maintain all the balls I’m juggling all the time. Trying to do so is a waste of time and energy. Instead, I’ll just do my best in the knowledge that my best is all I can do.
9. Silence is Golden
Motherhood is loud. If it’s not irritating singing toys with flashing lights or children crying, shouting and screaming, it’s the Peppa Pig theme tune rampaging unchecked through your head.
Someone’s always talking to you, vomiting on you or fighting with their sibling. Peace, quiet and calm quickly become extinct and it’s not until that happens you realise how much you miss them.
Motherhood makes you appreciate the old adage, ‘silence is golden’. And when the toys have temporarily stopped beeping and the only sound escaping from the kids is the gentle sound of their sleepy chests rising and falling, you bask in the silence as if it were golden rays of sunshine. Bliss.
Soak it up and reel it in; when you’re a mother silence is the new black.
There’s no initiation to motherhood and certainly no easing you in gently. From day one your strength is tested to the limit. How much sleep deprivation can you handle? Can you cope with the hormones and changes to your body while looking after a new and fully dependant being?
And as they grow older it doesn’t let up. Toddler tantrums, potty training nightmares, eating issues, bedtime refusals – motherhood is one big strength and endurance test.
My emotional strength was called upon during my second pregnancy, when I knew from 20 weeks onwards that my baby wasn’t likely to make it. The deep, powerful love that motherhood triggers, helped me find the strength to carry her and carry on after she died.
Until I became a mother I didn’t know I had it in me. I’m sure all mums feel the same. We should be proud of ourselves for rocking the strength thing.
Undoubtedly, we all learn hundreds of new things every day from motherhood. The lessons can be fun, harsh and downright crazy. There really is no teacher as persistent and testing as Motherhood.