27 Sep “Happy Mom, Realistic Mom”
Dr Colinda Linde (Clinical psychologist), author of “Get the balance right” – www.metzpress.co.za
From hearing the news “you’re pregnant” up to “it’s a baby boy/girl (or both)”, a woman’s body goes through incredible changes, the likes of which have never been experienced in any other form. It’s not just the body that undergoes these changes though- the mind, emotion, even identity, all change radically as well. Even if it’s a planned baby, easy conception, easy pregnancy, easy birth, you always wanted to be a mom, and you have great support, it’s still quite a process. Along with all the wonderful (and it is unlikely that you’ll have all of the wonderful, plain sailing factors I listed before), there is a lot of adaptation, learning, experiencing going on. Life as you knew it, has changed permanently.
So it’s a mixed bag, pregnancy, giving birth, and those early weeks with a newborn. Many beautiful, precious, once in a lifetime experiences. And some worry, anticipation, ‘what have we done”, ‘will I be a good mother.” Here are many paradoxes during these times, unlike any we have experienced, so we don’t quite know that they will be there, or how to handle them. Some of these include: mourning the loss of your lock up and go lifestyle, while welcoming a precious child into your world; enjoy the learning and exploring, while feeling out of your depth and having no idea of how to stop the crying; enjoying being in every moment, and worrying about the future of your child, the future world, your capacity to care for them for so many years ahead; the closeness and intimacy with your partner, at the new life you have created, along with feeling ungainly and irritable, and not very welcoming.
This brings me to the title of this piece- happy mom. For me, this means ‘realistic mom.” By this I mean- expect the challenge right alongside the gifts; see it as an ‘and” rather than an either/or. I say this especially for the superwomen out there, who are not used to vulnerability or being out of control. Allowing others to see and support you, when you are feeling out of your comfort –or coping- zone, does not mean you are any less capable. In fact, it’s smart to get support when you have challenge and change going on. Also, we all have an ‘inner child’ part, who is frightened and overwhelmed, and needing her own support sometimes- while at the same time we may be quite capably juggling the adult responsibilities of a home, partner, new baby.
As long as women can be realistic about what it means to become a mom, especially a new mom, we will identify when we need support, and ask for it from healthy sources. The happiest mom is a balanced one, with a realistic view of her situation, her capacity to handle the demands she faces in it, day by day, and what she needs to do this in the best way. A happy mom remembers to put herself into the equation- and a happy mom has a happy baby, happy home.