When your child is born you will automatically become this flowing well of abundance.
You know what, I really believed that. And when my first child, a girl of utmost perfection, was born, I felt it too. Impacted to my core. That this was the work I was born to do. I had been searching for the previous decade for my Purpose in Life. It had capital letters in my mind. It was going to be earthshattering and utterly mind-blowing. People would pour out of their houses and the phone lines would jam as everyone fell over themselves to see my Purpose in Life. I mean, really, no pressure.
So to that backdrop, add the hormones of breastfeeding an infant with the most amazing smelling head. (no-one tells you about that. My babies heads had my most favourite fragrant – I always wished I could bottle it). So, I fell in love. Deeply. Truely. And in the first few weeks announced that this was indeed the work I was born to do. I meant this from the utmost depths of my being. I threw myself into being Earth Mother. My daughter was the textbook perfect baby. Aside from colic & not sleeping through, obviously. In truth even with that she was a perfect her. She was an easy going creature who laughed alot.
So being her mama was a joy, along with the challenges of new motherhood.
Through having her I rediscovered my creativity. I learned to sew again. Slings & nursing clothes. I became involved in the Attachment parenting idea. I even started to sell my slings to other mammas hungry for that contact and finding their hands again. I felt I had it down pat. I kinda got to an equilibrium. We went to a Waldorf toddler group, baked bread together and did even more creativity, made nature tables together.
There were obviously days when all didn’t flow. When I’d find myself clinging to her father before he went to work, as if trying to get all the strength I could before 8 hours entertaining a baby drove me spare.
Happily, I became pregnant with her brother. A beautiful blue eyed boy.
I signed up for Superwoman Earth Mother. Waldorf Attachment mother. Carries her babies, breastfeeds for extended time. Uses cloth nappies. Eats wholesome food. Makes her own bread. Never used the TV with her children
For a few weeks after his birth, all was well. Then I crashed. It all came toppling in on me, about eight weeks into new motherhood to two. I had a new baby & a barely 2 year old. I sat and cried for hours. I resorted to television. I threw plates into the sink. Then I wept as I was the one who had to clean them up. It all came to a head when, after an industrial strength cauldron of coffee on an empty stomach, I had my first panic attack. I managed to get a bucket and lie on the kitchen floor not sure if I was going to be sick or go mad, or in which order. I was terrified.
Luckily this happened not long before my Beloved came home & very matter of factly picked me up. Literally and metaphorically. I couldn’t quite explain what was happening. The next few days, I got worse. I could think of nothing to do but cry. My poor baby got a very wet head. One day, I completely cracked. I was crying, clinging to my husband leaving for work, begging himself not to go. I barely managed half an hour, before I called my wonderful mother in law. She came and stayed with me for as long as she could. I was terrified of being alone, responsible for two small helpless beings. I mean, I could not believe that I had been put in charge of these sweet things, purely based on genetics. The next day I took myself to the Doctors. When I say took myself, a tag team of Awesome took over and took me. My own mother, mother-in-law & husband somehow held the structure around me, whilst I crumbled into my own dark hell.
I was also privileged to have a fantastic female doctor who knew me fairly well. ‘well, you can go on anti-depressants, but as you are breastfeeding & knowing you, I suspect you’d prefer a different route? I can fast track you onto a counselling program with our counsellor who is very good.’ She was good to her word. I was in front of a chain-smoking grey-haired man wearing black poloneck tops – a beatnik in a former life I suspect – within a matter of days. And she was correct. He was good.
So for several weeks, my tag team of Awesome took it in turns to make sure that I didn’t have to be alone, for any length of time. Drove me everywhere as driving gave me panic attacks. My mother travelled 2 counties every week to stay with us for 3-4 days each week, potty-trained my daughter, fed us nutritious meals, cleaned up after us. Kept home and heart together. While I caved in to myself, staring at blank walls. Waiting to feel something. Anything. Anything but this deadness. Anything but this feeling of looking at the world through a glass box. Wondering why others looked happy. knowing that I had 2 amazingly beautiful children & that I did indeed love them. Failing to feel the sweetness.
Thankfully, in my life, I have some amazing people with such deep knowledge. I reached out, through the mist. I knew something had to change. Starting with food. Its very easy with small babes to just snack. My body was in crisis. I had been pregnant or breastfeeding for nearly 3 years, including a miscarriage a few months before conceiving my daughter. My body was resilient but dammit, that was enough! So, I learned about nutrition. Like my life depended on it. Which it did, as it turns out. I read about superfoods, where to find seratonin. what my body needed. I called the nutrionalist at the alternative centre attached to the Doctors. He was very generous with his time on the phone, as I couldn’t face attending a session for fear of panic attacks. Following his suggestions of smoothies and juicing, I slowly restructured my body. I ate alot of raw food. I read and I learned and I healed.
Alongside of these various healing methods I used, the most important was the inner shedding that I did. I let go. I let go the judgements. I let go the Superwoman mother. I let go the Earth Mother. I let go of the need to be able to do it all myself. I asked for help. It was given, and gladly. I learned the most important lesson. Perfection is an unreal concept. My babes needed me to be Me. No-one else. No abstract cozy earthmother. No powerdressed uber mother. Just Me. With all my foibles and insecurities. With all my creativity and genius. Me.
It has taken the past decade to work out the mother I am, and the woman I am. It is a work in progress. To let go of ideals which don’t suit either me or my children. I realised that homeschooling, as much as I longed for it, wouldn’t suit my need to have uninterrupted creative time. That children’s programming on the BBC meant that I could actually get some sleep. (Bless you Cbeebies!) That I could bake my own bread or I could sew. Given the plethora of good bakeries in my hometown, I chose to sew & paint.
To know that there as many different types of mothers as there are mothers. And its OK. In fact, its wonderful.
My Postnatal Depression and Anxiety & general depletion of energy has been one of my biggest gifts. At the time, obviously, it was utterly shit!
However, it gave me so many lessons. One of the biggest ones is knowing when to stop and let go. Not to do the thing I hate. To spend myself on what I love. My time & energy is my most valuable commodity. It can be frittered on pointless stuff – the soul equivalent of instant mash potato, or it can be spent on more nourishing fare that builds and replenishes.