In collaboration with Medela
When I had Elliott back in 2011 I tried to be superwoman. I didn’t accept help from anyone because I felt it was a sign of weakness and showed some sort of inability to be a good mum (stupid, I know).
The stress and exhaustion consumed me, but I still didn’t give in. That teamed with undiagnosed postnatal depression meant that I was in my deepest darkest hole of my life.
That which does not kill us in motherhood makes us stronger
There’s a lot I have learnt from those hard days. There have been plenty of times when I’ve been sad for the memories I lost during the early days of Elliott’s life because they were consumed with negative emotions all the time. But with baby number two, I’ve come to appreciate that the worst time of my life has helped me overcome challenges and enjoy motherhood.
I am a big believer that my experience has made me stronger and more resilient. I feel more confident, capable and mindful. This is not only great for me but awesome for my husband and kids. They get to see the best Eva I can be (most of the time).
Practising mindful parenting
Yes, I’ve had a number of days plastered to the couch breastfeeding 24/7 but when that used to drive me crazy with my first child because I was always thinking about the things I should be doing, this time, I tell myself that those things can wait, the most important thing is my daughter right at this very moment.
There have been many days when my house has resembled a war zone but when that used to bring me to tears with my first child, now I try to remind myself that I’m raising a family here and mess equals family.
This second time round I’m happy to say I’ve learnt to accept the things I previously didn’t, and I feel much better for it.
Remind myself that there will be good days and bad days. I try to live for the good days.
Remind myself when I look at my messy house that a young family lives here and we are happy.
Embrace my mum uniform and realise I can’t look fresh and fancy all the time.
Don’t feel guilty for saying no when I’m not up for a visit or going somewhere.
Acknowledge mummy guilt and the fact that it’s there but also understand that I’m the only one feeling guilty, my kids are OK.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the amount of online information on what I should or shouldn’t do and instead seek the advice from a midwife at the hospital baby clinic.
Accept help when people offer
Seek help when I need it.
My support people
My mum and my husband have been my absolute saviours. My mum calls me every day without fail, to see that I’m doing OK. We have been doing coffee at our favourite café every Saturday because she knows it’s an opportunity for me to get out of the house and relax a little, as well as doing some much-needed mother-daughter bonding. It’s the best medicine.
My husband, well, I am probably a little too tough on him sometimes and if I need some time out or have a baby that simply won’t settle for me, he, without any qualms, will take her off me and tell me to go and relax. They are definitely my two most important support people who I’m extremely lucky to have in my life.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows
In saying all of this positive stuff, it’s not always all bright and rosy. Motherhood is hard, damn hard. You don’t need me to tell you that but I know you can relate. I’ve found myself sitting on the couch, tears welling in my eyes wondering how I’m going to get through the tough times. But I do and the next day is usually a better day.
I still experience bouts of mummy guilt, I think it’s an inevitable part of being a mum. I feel horrible when I bring Elliott home from kindy and when all he wants to do is play and have some attention, I have to breastfeed Mila or console her because she’s crying.
Though, the times when I have Mila in my arms and Elliott cuddling us both definitely makes up for the mummy guilt.
Let go of the ideals
As much as this sounds a little cliché, and I can only write this based on my unique experience of motherhood, but I’m working on the idea of letting go of perfection and instead embracing imperfection because nothing else matters but my wellbeing and my family. Not my house, not the way I look, not how someone else feels because I cancelled a coffee date.
The childhood days are fleeting and I sure as hell am making the most of the last time I’ll likely experience them with my kids.
And lastly, here’s a reminder of how motherhood is so different for everybody. You just can’t compare.
Medela carried out a survey with 4000 Australian mothers to get a feel for where mums turn for parenting information and support and considering the plethora of information online, the results are quite interesting.
How do you overcome the challenges of motherhood? Where do you seek support and information?