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6 things I learned from my first year of motherhood

Becoming a mum for the first time is a wild f*cking ride. You might not see it happening while you’re inside the eye of the storm, but becoming Mum changes your whole identity. It will break you (a little), and it will rebuild you (a lot). 

Now that I’ve survived my first year of motherhood, I can look back through the blur with new (but still over-caffeinated) eyes and pinpoint the six lessons I’ve learned that changed my motherhood experience entirely.

1. Not being the perfect mum actually made me a better mum

While pregnant, I had all of these dreamy preconceived ideas about how I would balance motherhood with working part time, maintaining my fitness, keeping a spotless house, and cooking delicious meals every night (think: Pinterest worthy mumfluencer vibes). What a way to live set myself up for failure!

It didn’t take me long before I realised that this ideal of the “perfect mother” was not only completely unrealistic, but the pursuit of this unattainable golden standard of #mumlife also stopped me from actually being the mum I wanted to be. I was too busy ticking off my to do list to be in the moment with my son, and I was missing the memories that make all the other crap worthwhile.

Read more about it here: Why dropping the ball makes you a better mum

2. I don’t love parenting, I love my son

This tiktok sums it up perfectly. I love my son beyond what I could ever express in words, but parenting actually sucks a lot of the time if I’m being honest. Having another human being be completely dependent on you for absolutely everything is draining AF.

Sleep depreciation is a legitimate form of torture, and the days can get very monotonous. Especially in the early months while your life is literally a cycle of feed, burp, change nappy, settle, repeat. 

I often feel tapped out, touched out and on the edge of tears, but thinking back on my old life leaves me feeling like I had a huge gaping hole in my chest that I never knew was there, until my son came along.

Am I counting down the minutes until he goes to sleep every night? Sh*t yes. But am I then looking at photos of him all evening and missing him until he wakes up in the morning? Also yes. What a mindf*ck.

3. I can’t control everything (or pretty much anything)

But oh did I try. As someone who salivates over a good to do list and who watches clothes being folded to get off, you would be correct in assuming I thrive in a controlled environment.

If you’re anything like me, chuck those tendencies in the bin right now, because having a baby throws you into the centre of complete chaos. Believe me I tried, but there is no controlling pretty much… anything. Babies are living breathing human beings with their own agenda (go figure), and you’ll be busy enough just trying to keep up with their changing patterns / needs / moods / preferences. Breathe, relax and embrace the chaos.

4. It doesn’t really get any easier, the challenges just change

I will say this: I definitely became more confident as the early months passed and my son and I got to know each other. But just when I thought I had parenting down pat, it was time to start solids, and just as I felt confident with feeding, he transitioned into a demon child toddler. Motherhood is the steepest learning curve there is, and just as your baby will continue to grow and develop through the ages and stages, you will continue to level up to meet them where they’re at.

5. No one else knows what they’re doing either

This one is KEY. Before I had my son I expected him to pop out of my vagina, and straight onto my boob like it was the most natural thing in the world (he ended up refusing to feed and I became a pumping mama for 12 months). Then when he finally did tear (not pop) his way out of my body crying like a banshee, I very quickly realised I had no idea WTF I was doing.

The thing is, no one does. It may seem on the surface that every other mum has her sh*t together but I promise, we’re all just figuring it out as we go.

Once you realise this, you’ll feel completely liberated knowing that there’s no one size fits all approach, and no universal “right way” to do things. Sure, everyone has their opinion, but YOU get to decide how you want to parent based on what works for you and your baby.

6. I’m still important too

It’s so easy to lose yourself in the first few months after having your baby. They need you at every moment of every day, you’re constantly exhausted and your pelvic floor is still a shell shocked mess, rocking back and forth in the fetal position after what it’s just been through. You don’t feel like you, and honestly, you might not for a while. 

But here’s the thing, you still matter. You are still important. Even more important than you were before, actually. 

While you may not have the luxury of spontaneous weekends away, leisurely long, hot baths or even consecutive hours of sleep, it’s imperative that you create space just for yourself.

Have a planned support system in place, ask for help, and DO NOT feel guilty about it. You can’t be there for your baby if you’re burnt out. 

As you navigate your first year as Mum, your challenges, experiences and the lessons you learn will be your own. And as hard as parenting is (like seriously, the hardest), I’ve never met a mum who said it wasn’t worth the effort, or that they weren’t better for it.

So when you pass that first year milestone, take some time to reflect on how motherhood has challenged you and changed you for the better. And then share your wisdom with your fellow survivors on Mumli!

What has your first year of motherhood taught you? Tell us in the comments.

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