The Worst Mistake I Made after Becoming a Mum
When I was pregnant, I eavesdropped a conversation between two friends of mine, and one said: “I really admire XXX. She has been growing her child by herself, only with her partner, no one in the family came to visit and she has been doing everything by herself”.
Doesn’t matter the fact that these friends had no babies, and they couldn’t even hold a long-lasting relationship. Doesn’t matter if the person they were talking about was having an incredibly tough time, and was considering divorce and relocating to a different country. And doesn’t matter that I didn’t even like that friend that much, and I understood but disagreed with her life choices. I wanted to be admired, and I allowed her to plant a seed in my pregnant brain: “I have to do it by myself, there is no need to ask for help”.
In hindsight, I would have sat at the table, went through my rubric, called all the numbers I knew and asked for help every single day of the week.
Hindsight…what a brilliant, marvellous thing.
Have you ever heard the African proverb that says: “It takes a village to raise a child?” It means that an entire community of people must interact with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.
Look at how your parents and grandparents were raised; the upbringing of our children is so much different even from the way we grew up. I remember school nights spent at my nonna house, eating minestrone and feasting on mint lollies; and no one will take those memories away from me. And if you don’t have relatives around, your friends and community can support your journey into motherhood.
So this is what you need to do:
Talk to your partner. Express your needs, doubts and fears, without holding back. He is going through a life changing phase as well, and it’s paramount to open the communication’s gates.
Make contact! Doesn’t matter how much you think you have your shit together, it still doesn’t make you immune from the need of belonging and being held. Don’t hide in a cave (they get quite mouldy anyway), and hang out with people. One day I was at the park and a woman with a newborn baby asked me out of the blue “I’m new, can we become friends?”, and of course, we did.
Think wider. Your support tribe doesn’t include only your husband, friends and relatives. Make a list of all the people that can support you through your journey such a nutritionist, osteopath, massage therapist, physiotherapist, counsellor, Reiki teacher and so forth. You choose!
Stick numbers on the fridge. Write down a list of the 3 people you can contact when in need and stick it to your fridge; tell them they are on your speed dial. Start using those numbers! Mine was a wonderful cook, a great listener, and a whinger. The last one always made me feel a better person, even when I had the crappiest day.
Facebook did something useful. I have never particularly liked Facebook (I’m an IG type of girl) until it gave me a community of women that made me feel safe and understood. There are lots of support groups on Facebook. Find one that suits your personality, and start sharing.
Fuck judgement and don’t overthink it. As women, we hold back from reaching out cause we are scared of what people might say. As I have already shared with you, I got judged cause I hired a babysitter for 3 hours a week when my baby was few months old. 3 hours a week! My husband was working, I was working and studying from home (by the way, don’t do that. Again…hindsight!), and my parents leave 24 hours flight away from where we are. I had all the rights to get some help; still, those stupid comments really hurt.
For future references, I now know how I would respond to those people.