By Sara Teeman
The ‘shoulds’ started early for me and I had an idea whilst pregnant of how I wanted things to go. I knew what kind of birth I wanted and moreover how life would look like once my daughter had arrived. I even knew the sleep routine I wanted to follow!
But things don’t always work out like that – and several years on, I came to realise that acceptance isn’t the same as resignation. Acceptance in motherhood is powerful and it can be our greatest friend.
In my corporate career, things worked so differently. Output often mirrored input. If there was an issue, I would work harder and with grit and determination I could usually find a way through it. There was order at work – and a level of being able to predict what was next.
Acceptance in motherhood is powerful and it can be our greatest friend.
As a full time mum to 3 under 3 (once our twins arrived), there was only chaos. No matter how hard I worked, how fast I went – there was mess! I would just finish one cycle of changing 3 nappies in a row, to begin again. It genuinely broke my heart a little bit every time I made a well thought out nourishing meal for it to be chucked out of the high chair or pushed away.
I waited for a day when it would feel a bit easier. Then, when chatting with a friend who came over with her boys for a playdate, I asked her how she always seemed so relaxed (and mothers of boys, you will know, there is an abundance of noise!) and unfazed by any situation.
“Acceptance”, my wise friend told me. “I just go with the flow and it makes everything so much easier”. Lauren was super cool about mess, leaving tidying to the end of the day, and wasn’t beating herself up about her co-sleeping situation as I was – or her fussy eater.
We are given lots of guidance when we have a baby; for example, we are told that babies should be sleeping in their room at 6 months. Guidance on what they should be eating and when. How many hours they should be sleeping through the night. Guidance, whilst helpful, can sometimes make us feel we are failing to meet a certain perceived norm, creating angst and leading us to question ourselves. I learnt that taking guidance, in combination with trusting my own instincts and myself, was healthier. After all, no 2 adults – or kids, are the same.
Guidance, whilst helpful, can sometimes make us feel we are failing to meet a certain perceived norm, creating angst and leading us to question ourselves.
When I started practising acceptance, it was like all of the air had been let out of a balloon of anxiety I was holding in my tummy. My jaw felt less tense. The dull ache in my shoulders disappeared. And then, the magic of motherhood – the magic I had read about and seen but was yet to really experience for myself, started to happen.
1. Fun. I started to find myself having FUN. Fun for me before had been spending the day in a spa or going for drinks with my girlfriends. I hadn’t particularly enjoyed baby groups and secretly wanted to scream when my daughter asked me to play unicorns for the 15th time that day. I realised I had been looking at it all wrong. Seeing it through her eyes, I could appreciate the magic she was feeling. I even remembered feeling the same in my own childhood and the wonder of make believe. I started baking with the kids – an activity I did enjoy – and didn’t stress as much about the mess. And, somehow amongst the flour and the occasional fighting over a wooden spoon, I realised what a gift it was to bake on a Tuesday morning.