Motherhood As A Performance Sport

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mom holding baby up

What the heck happened to us? Maybe it’s the constant strive for perfection, the drive since childhood to succeed, the way we subconsciously compare ourselves to others. University? Career? Hobbies?

Once pregnant, you start your journey from yourself to mummy self-less. Along the journey, there are a plethora of milestones. And funnily enough, most are out of your control.

Aren’t you too tired?

The boundaries of what’s normal for pregnancy are very wide. Some people are absolutely OK; some are absolutely not. There is everyone else in between. And that’s when everything is fine. There is even the grey area of things not being fine, but thanks to modern medicine they can be managed.

So, you can casually compare yourselves to complete strangers as when it comes to pregnancy, everything goes.

Suddenly, it’s totally ok to discuss your health status and be constantly reminded of it. You can then fret over the fact you are not feeling ill enough or you feel too ill or is it really normal to vomit in the second trimester? Does anyone else feel dizzy when they stand up?

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The scariest moment of all

Then comes the delivery. I read recently someone saying that’s the scariest moment of your life. I am not sure about that. I found mugging attempts in Colombia way much scarier, but then I gave birth in an English hospital. But maybe I just got it all wrong?

No matter what’s your situation, there’s a parameter you can compare yourself to, a KPI to achieve. Sometimes it feels like you are told how you should be feeling — and it’s confusing when it doesn’t apply.

We do forget that pregnancy and motherhood are so individual and we all as individuals experience it differently.

How is XYZ sleeping?

It starts sneakily. When you get pregnant, it seems like you are instantly supposed to switch from your old self to the new mummy self-less. I remember quite a few meetings at work suddenly started to revolve around how amazing it is to have a baby. Or how I am feeling (in relation to my pregnancy). Of course, you should get your sleep now, haha.

The baby’s birth turns up things a notch. Instead of hi, it’s: is he sleeping? Is he eating? Cue the answer: babies eat — it’s a fact. If they don’t, you do need to go to the hospital. Babies don’t sleep. Or sleep. It’s a lottery ticket, no matter what anyone says. And they will say. Cherish those who actually ask how you are.

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Mummy groups benchmarks

The thing is, it does take a village to raise a child, and let’s face it, most of us live very insular lives. And so we flock into mummy tribes, bonded by our shared experience of having a child, and nothing more to start with.

You can share all your internet-induced anxieties, get a benchmark, evaluate how you perform as a new mother. Are you good enough? Chances are, you are not. There is always something.

The thing is, as funny as it sounds, the main variable in this whole equation is your child. And you have absolutely no influence on his temperament or sleeping patterns. Or maybe you have. Who knows? We are so conditioned to overcome everything — and suddenly you need to go with a flow.

Coffee anyone?

I suspect most modern child-rearing advice as we know it was developed by people who have never seen or indeed taken care of an actual child. Or they were lucky to have the one miracle child. I have seen those but they are rare. Most are just… babies.

Chill. Have a coffee. And cake. Sugar is important. Don’t compare, but be just friends. It doesn’t matter who is first to sleep through the night or walks or any other first. What matters is to share support, and sometimes after a bad day, just hug.

Just don’t call me Mummy, I have a name.

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Zlatka Larsen loves writing short stories. For more of her writing, follow her on Medium. Her book Counting Shadows is available on Kindle.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.