I would like to pause for a moment. And be happy.
I have already written a lot on this blog, and before I started this site I was still talking about maternity care, breastfeeding and parenting every day. I have a blog post lined up discussing my mental health experiences, and lots more maternity experiences to share. So it’s easy to get caught up in what is wrong. What needs to be fixed. Where things can be improved. Who is to blame. Who needs to be persuaded of a new point of view. Whose point of view you should consider. What you need to learn. How much you don’t know.
When you discuss maternity experiences all the time it’s hard not to dwell on your own. My children sometimes seem to be the sum of their birth “vital statistics”:
But when I’m away from social media and spending time with my children I remember that they are SO much more than that. And in fact they don’t have any concept of those things at all. They are wonderful individuals, with personalities totally separate from the method and circumstances of their birth. Edward is an inventor, a thinker, an observer, with so many ideas and plans in his head. He is also a 4 year old, full of beans, energy, attitude and excitement. David is a communicator, a social animal, never happier than when he has an audience…. (can you guess who he takes after?). At 18 months he is most interested in farm animals and being read to.
A woman’s maternity experience is one of the most important times in her life. Her birth choices, her feeding choices, her journey into motherhood and the amount of support she receives, these are vital areas of discussion and I feel privileged to be a small part of these conversations. And every woman has something about those early days and weeks with her babies that she regrets or feels guilty about – guilt comes as part of the motherhood package. It would be so easy to let those concerns become THE story of our children. But the wonderful thing is that our children write their own stories.
I didn’t find the newborn months particularly pleasurable. I tell people I don’t really “do” babies, and I am so happy every time I look at my boys and realise neither of them is a baby anymore. But that’s not to say that I don’t have happy memories of those times. A friend shared this blog post the other day which I think sums it up well, and which is a great response to those people who tell you to “enjoy every moment”. You don’t have to enjoy every moment, not with babies, not with toddlers, not at any time in your life.
But what I urge you to do is to make a note of the wins. Those days that are filled with magic, the happy times, the GOOD days. Photograph them. Write about them. Keep a record of them. They will sustain you in the down times, in the times when you need reminding that it’s not all bad, that not all parenting takes place at 3am when you are being screamed at and covered in vomit. That the whole of life is not a campaign, it isn’t all a battle.
This Easter Bank Holiday was a win for me. So I am taking a moment to just……. be happy.