I've now been a mummy for eight months. Two thirds of a year, I can't believe it!! It might not seem like that long, but I've learned a hell of a lot in a short space of time. Some of these things hit me on day one, sitting there in the hospital with my new precious bundle in my arms. Others I've struggled to learn gradually over time. But one thing's for sure, I'm a lot more wise (and far more tired!) than I've ever been before.
Here's what motherhood's taught me so far:
1. Whoever and whatever you were before is now secondary to what you are now: a mother. This makes you feel a little bit invincible. You might be the most successful female politician since Maggie Thatcher, but when you're asked how you're going to tackle an issue, the first thing that will run through your head will be, "I'M A MOTHER, I'M MORE THAN QUALIFIED TO DO ANYTHING YOU THROW AT ME! BRING IT ON!"
2. Travel, once a pleasurable past time, has become a laborious, tiring and admin-heavy task, which involves lugging your bodyweight in supplies around with you wherever you go. Forget sunbathing with a book; instead this time will be spent struggling to prevent your child from shoveling half the beach into their mouth. You'll need to brush up on your best miming skills to try to locate the item that is vital to your child's existence in a foreign supermarket because you left it at home/on the plane/in a service station's toilets. Then you'll need another holiday to recover from the holiday you've just had as soon as you return home.
3. Sleep, once a pleasurable past time, has become a treat which you enjoy only on very rare occasions, a handful of times a year, when all of the moons in the Milky Way align.
4. Speaking of sleep, back in the day if you were awake at 4 AM you'd usually be found
clutching a kebab and high fiving the postman as you totter down the
street after an excellent night. Nowadays if you are awake at 4 AM, you
can be found pulling your hair out and muttering expletives under your
breath after one of the worst nights of your life eveeerrrrr (yes, those
sleepless nights also tend to turn you into a bit of a drama queen).
The only thing you have in common with your former 4 AM self is the fact
that you're so out of it that you can barely remember your own name.
5. You will never visit the toilet alone again.
6. Say goodbye to your memory. You will constantly find yourself turning up to things on the wrong day, and at the wrong time...and sometimes in the wrong place too. But remembering things is so overrated, and forgetting exactly what you're supposed to be doing at any point in time keeps life interesting! Who needs to remember names, faces, shopping lists or their brother's birthday anyway?
7. Sex. See sleep.
8. Boobs are no longer sexy; they're leaking, life-sustaining, achey, weird-looking mammary glands that your teething child abuses on a daily basis. Oh, and these days a supportive bra won't be enough to help them to defy gravity; a forklift truck is required to keep them looking perky.
9. While we're on the subject of feeding, people will judge you if you breastfeed, and if you bottle feed. But then they will also judge you if you send your child to nursery, and if you keep them at home. They will judge you if you wean them at four months and if you decide to wait until seven. They will judge you if you go back to work and if you're a stay at home mum. There is nothing like becoming a parent to make everyone suddenly believe they are sitting on a jury, but you just need to ignore them and do what is right for you and your child.
10. Baby clothes cost more than your average monthly mortgage
and you'll need the vigilance of a Russian spy to replace them in time
to keep up with your baby's rapid growth.Yet somehow they'll still have a
bigger and better wardrobe than you have ever had.
11. No matter how good you are at holding it together, you will still turn into a weeping mess when your baby has their first jabs.
12. There are hundreds of Smug Mums (I like to call them 'Smums') on the internet, posting on forum boards about how their baby crawled at three months, and posting photos on Facebook of newborns with milestone cards which say they slept through the night for the first time at three days old, but I can guarantee you that even these mums cry into their mugs of tea on a semi-regular basis too. You can't buy into the filtered reality you see online.
13. Colic, reflux, teething, sleep regressions...these phases are lumped together in a category I like to call 'The Shits', because well, they are supremely shit. But it's important to remember that they are just phases, and they pass. They always pass.
14. Speaking of passing shits, you will rapidly become a poo expert, and you'll soon find that your parental conversations turn to the topic on a regular basis. From green to brown to orange and even slightly purple, you'll come to know exactly what the precise colour (and texture) means with regards to your child's health. It's now completely acceptable to sniff another person's bottom in public. It's also perfectly acceptable to ask them out loud in the supermarket if that was a poo or just a fart.
15. You'll start to notice pregnant women and babies a lot more, and will be heard muttering, "Why is EVERYONE I know having children these days?!" You'll appreciate other people's babies, but secretly inside you will *know* that yours is the cutest. You're still patiently waiting for the day that the child modelling agency calls you to say that your perfect little cherub has been head-hunted for a new campaign.
16. Multi-tasking isn't just an impressive skill, it is now necessary to life. Changing a nappy with one hand whilst on the phone booking a doctor's appointment and singing 'Baa Baa Black Sheep'? Absolute doddle.
17. Your mummy friends suddenly become the most amazing, strong and independent women you have ever met. You constantly ask yourself how on earth they are managing to get out of the house after a handful of hours' sleep; how they manage to go back to work after a few months; how they are still going to the gym / baking brownies / taking up crocheting. Then suddenly you realise you're doing just as well as them in your own way and give yourself a huge pat on the back.
18. No matter how bad your day has been, or how little you have slept the night before, one smile from your baby, one 'Mama' or one cuddle, and everything is alright again.
19. You have never felt so fulfilled, so proud, so goddamn content in your entire life. You sing more, you laugh more, everyone probably thinks you're going a little crazy. But you created a human being, and they're amazing. You're a bit amazing for doing it too. See point 1.
20. Nothing will ever be the same again. And you wouldn't change a thing.
Mummies, what have you learned that I've missed?
For those of you that are still pregnant, check out '20 Ways To Cope With Pregnancy In Your Third Trimester'