Parents come in many shapes and sizes.
There are those for which being a parent is the most natural thing in the world.
Always knowing they would have a family, they live, sleep and breathe parenting; thriving on the milestones, the naughty steps and the healthy lunchboxes.
Others land unsure, but once their brood appear they grit their teeth through the hard times and appreciate the good.
But is it possible that a small portion, often quite reluctant to admit the truth, arrive in the parenting world to discover that it simply isn’t for them?
I’m the first to admit that parenting is hard… damn hard. The monotony of baby care, the toddler tantrums and the unrelenting demands of the parenting world can test the most saintly of people.
And though I love my children more than anything, on those days when my biggest achievement is simply surviving a trip to the shops, and I see my former calm and collected self reflected back as a short-tempered and weary shadow, I can certainly relate to those honest few.
And on investigation, it seems I’m not alone. When posed the question, I gradually came across several mothers who admitted the same inner conflict:
- A guilt-ridden new mum who wonders why every other mother is basking in the glow of baby-land whilst she is lonely, miserable, and exhausted.
- A working mum who finds juggling career and kids brings out the worst in both worlds.
- A mum of two who openly reminisces of a happier life before kids.
But if you find yourself in this group, you are not alone and there are things you can do to turn things around:
- Admitting you are not enjoying it does not make you a failure. Some people love salsa dancing, some people collect spiders, some spend their weekends reenacting the civil war. Try to find things you do enjoy doing with baby and avoid those that push your stress-buttons; if that means having groceries delivered whilst you take bub to the park, rather than tackling the trolley dash alone, it is a well-deserved trade.
- Different stages appeal to different people. Even if you feel this way now, be open to feeling differently at a future stage. I personally don’t get gooey over babies, and even now, if someone offers me a cuddle of a newborn I run for the hills. But stepping into the early years of school has brought some unbelievable moments of pride and achievement… for us all.
- Don’t do it alone. Baby-wrangling by yourself is a challenging and very lonely task. Find support in like-minded mums, share the challenges and pitfalls, and be honest with how you feel. If any niggling feelings of helplessness and a lack of connection to the baby persist, talk to your GP as they can be indicators of PND. Even just talking to someone and explaining how you feel could make things a whole world better. Your GP can refer you to a counsellor to help you work through your feelings. The Bub Hub forums are a great place to find support (anonymously if you wish) from other mums.
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