What I've Learnt... About Myself
Motherhood is a common experience.
As soon as I became pregnant, I felt part of this special club with other women. Strangers on the tube and in shops would tell me about their pregnancies and comment on the shape of my bump. I had a newly found common ground with my 80 something year old grandmother (who amazingly remembered the details of her pregnancies and births when she struggled to remember things that had happened 5 minutes ago). I had honest conversations about the joy and fear I was feeling with my best friends who were already mothers. I felt a new kind of closeness with my mum.
This all confirmed for me that motherhood can be a great connector between women. But I was also learning how intensely personal it is. Each new phase of my pregnancy taught me something new about me. From how I wanted to experience birth, to what I felt about my body, to principles that were and weren’t negotiable. Being a mum has continued to surprise me with what it reveals to me about me.
I’ve learnt from giving birth just how powerful my body is. When I had my daughter two and a half years ago, I was shocked by my physical strength when I was totally exhausted. With my son, who’s now 3 months old, the intensity of what my body performed during labour took me by surprise and took weeks for me to process.
I've learnt about my emotional resilience. When my son became ill when he was newborn, and we had to spend a week in hospital, I discovered my inner resources that helped me get through the scariest, most anxious time of my life. I've learnt that I can keep pushing through tiredness, but that there's a time to stop and look after my mental health because that's more important than getting everything done.
I’ve learnt that motherhood brings out my most primal and unselfconscious self. I am fiercely protective: I lunged at a cat who got too close to my newborn daughter for my liking. Skin to skin contact is the sweetest feeling. I love the fact that my face is more fascinating to my son than any mobile or toy and that my daughter’s interest in the parts of my body I like least is so innocently curious. She couldn’t care less if her dinner is instagrammable and she’d much rather I sing loudly than in tune.
I’ve learnt that the love I am capable of feeling is not limited. It has expanded beyond what I ever thought was possible with the birth of each of my children, and it continues to grow and expand with them.
The reality of motherhood is full of contradictions. It’s messy, complicated and exhausting. It’s full of pure unadulterated joy, pride and laughter. It’s personal and private but public at the same time. It has taught me the essence of who I am.