In the Spotlight: Speaking to the Mother in Me
This month’s spotlight feature takes a twist, as I take the places of both interviewer and interviewee!
Why is that so? You may wonder. If you know me personally, or have been reading THP for awhile now, you’d know I’d very much prefer being ‘faceless”… so the compelling reason behind this article was purely to share a true story of a new mother, primarily because, Mother’s Day is just round the corner!
So, new mums and mum-to-be’s can gain genuine insights on what motherhood is like. Fellow mothers may recoil in horror at my take (or like-minded ones might share similar experiences lol!), but it’s pretty normal and expected, since no one way is ever gonna sit well with EVERYONE. And, if you have yet to discover, “for every thesis lies an anti-thesis” – this is oh-so-true with all the hearsay about motherhood and parenting, for that matter. You’ll come to realize this one day too!
This topic was put to me for a separate task, and it didn’t come at a better time than now because it was something that has been pushed back in my mind for awhile, so thanks for the mental jolt! Some have also commented about the new changes in me, and hence, this article probably addresses their thoughts and how motherhood has changed me :)
Our plans and D-Day
Her wails filled the delivery suite, and this pair of first-day parents stood firm with theories on CIO and left her to self-soothe in the bright, new environment that she has just set her tiny bum in.
Like many new parents, we had a mental list of do’s and don’ts, which were planned for swift execution when our little one arrived. Let’s just say, most of these theories have since been cast out the window, simply because the stars don’t seem like they will ever align. So well, plans are just… plans.
The beginning of things to come
Donning my new badge, flabby tummy and all, one of the greatest challenges, was breastfeeding. Engorgement, stubborn milk that wouldn’t budge, raging hormones and a fatigue woman – I’ve lost count of the times I wanted to kick the sleeping husband off the bed during night pumps, which I eventually gave up on at the 2nd or 3rd week, which then of course, affected supply. I cried in self-pity despite repeatedly telling myself that breastfeeding is but a subset, and it does not make one any less a mother if things don’t come my way. But it was hard (pun unintended) and I tried to wash guilt with tears.
One fateful night, as I was expressing, the husband brought our little girl to my side. I hated that sight – I didn’t want her to see the pathetic state her mother was in, someone whom she was to look up to, struggling with her food and looking so terrible. But it was like she understood. She looked at me in the eyes, flashed a knowing smile as if to say “It’s okay, mummy. You’re still my mummy, no matter what happens.” I’m not sure if that was me thinking too much (plus hormones overdrive!), but I felt the message. So, I told myself, to try my best, and if things didn’t work out, so be it. I’ll work harder in other ways of bonding with my child. Some parts of the tofu in me solidified – and 18 months of enduring blebs, blisters, blocked ducts, mastitis, trips to the Lactation Consultants, visiting the massage ladies, blood (!!!) and whatnots, my husband says he is in awe of me. (Did I say someone was in awe of me?! Never thought that could ever happen in this lifetime!) I’ve grown somewhat tougher, and it was this love-hate relationship that taught me to turn the impossible around. Or maybe, it’s now already a part of me that I can’t shake off from my routine. Or maybe, the engorgements are constant reminders! LOL.
The sleeping game
Motherhood brings on new insights. Those who say they wish they could “sleep like a baby”, most likely a) haven’t had one; or b) have a baby who’s a perfect sleeper – lucky them! Back then, sleep was my favourite past-time, aside to enjoying food. Now, frequent night wakings peppered with surround sound soprano at ungodly hours greet us, where no amount of carrying or hushing can calm her except the boobs. Imagine two grouchy zombies crawling out of bed for work as if nothing happened. The unexpected singings get to us, and for that tempers have flown. It does neither of the trio any good, more so for the bub who bears the brunt of feeling worse off with trouble communicating with us, and not having her needs met. During these times, parenthood seems to bring out the worst in us; and I’ve yet to mention our sleep challenges! Whatever happened to the good ol’ moi? The one where people around me used to think was such a calm, patient person with nary a temper to boot. Miss Goody Nice suddenly morphed into her alter ego: the evil step sister.
P/S: The above image was used as a loose joke. By all means, hubs is an ultra hands-on father, one I could not do without, lest my sanity would have been forsaken.
But every day, we learn. Motherhood teases my brain cells while I accustom to survive on little rest, and we somehow learn to cope physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. So, if you’ve yet to become a parent, I urge you N-O-W: Sleep as much as you can! That was the best-est advice well-meaning folks have imparted to us, and I hereby relay it to you! And, if you could, please avoid brain-taxing discussions with me in the mornings, because a) I was, am and will never be a morning person; b) My brains go into hibernation the moment the alarm rings.
But of course, every child is different, So if yours belong to the latter (see above point b) – well then, congratulations and don’t go around being a show-off because 99% of us
are accumulating a huge sleep debt, have babies who miss us largely during their waking hours and want to enjoy our presence whenever possible. Just so happens that the nights are the best times to cosy up and cuddle (we’re more lovey-dovey when the lights are out, right?). And also, let’s not forget about sleep regression with babies going through phases. Just thank your lucky stars for good nights and enjoy while it lasts :P
No slow dining for me now. If you know me, I eat like a snail, and only one other friend can win me (to protect her identity, i shan’t be naming her. LOL.). Well, i enjoy food and savouring each morsel is a way of appreciating the time and effort that the Chef has invested. Food for our party of three, taste better when our little boss is in a good mood. I’m glad she’s a foodie like mama too and thanks to her enthusiasm, she has motivated the amateur cook in me to whip up simple meals where she gladly becomes my guinea pig chows down in glee. Hello, kitchen experiments! :D
The game changer
Starting a family means big changes. Personally, it was a turning point. During my younger days, I didn’t quite imagined myself a mother. Bringing a life into this world got me thinking about “life”. I became more conscious of what I wanted in and out of life, and how it would be on my deathbed. Morbid as it seems, but I now think a lot more about death. I pondered how my eulogy would be filled and what my daughter would remember me for. I’m no outstanding person who has discovered a cure for diseases, nor was I the brightest student with scorecards my parents could show-off with. I didn’t want to live with “what-if’s” and “what could have been’s”…. life is too short to soak in regrets. So, after a near-death experience with the hair dryer in the middle of the night, I made up my mind and decided to take a big leap of faith, stepping out of my (old bones) comfort zone to embark on the pursuit of my writing passion. #nevertryneverknow
Truth be told, many assumed I was going to be a full-time mother (which mother isn’t?). They can’t be further than the truth because a) I’m lacking in the maternal department for an SAHM role (I’m in awe of how they actually manage their sanity, really!); and b) additional commitments mean more bills, and I want to be a self-sustaining woman by contributing to the household finances. Oh, can I add that because we love holidays and food, it would be too mean to shove everything to the husband?? (K, are you reading this?? :P)
Above all, motherhood has imparted several lessons: Accepting changes, learning to scratch and twist plans and stepping up to become a better person for another person. Almost zilch “me” time (does work count??), and definitely zilch couple time (did you know that the first year of parenthood is touted as one of the most tumultuous of a couple’s relationship?). HA! Well, don’t go around mopping – take charge and make time.
With the bigger picture in mind, raising a child takes an entire lifetime to learn. Even tofus toughen up when the going gets tough. Thankful for our miracle in life, for life.
Motherhood is a new job that no one will ever be ready for. Mamas brain syndrome? That’s for real – just ask any mum. One can only embrace the new challenges and push forward. Every child is different – now let’s be honest: Don’t you wish your babies came with an instruction guide? #NoonetoldmetheJD