By Belinda Haan
One hour is one hour, and one day is one day, right? Not always.
For a mother with a baby under 12 months, time has a different value.
One hour of standard time is 5+ hours of a mother’s time.
One day is about one week in early motherhood.
And, like many things in motherhood, there is a conflict.
One week can also feel like one day!
We both want to press fast-forward, and also want to pause time.
We can secretly fantasise about the time the baby will be 18 and moving out (or is it just me?).
A mother with a baby utilises more of her 24-hours than the average person. And within these 24-hours, there is often joy alongside boredom, anger, anxiety, despair and a sense of isolation.
Each day can feel like another version of the same thing.
A sense of domestic boredom can exist.
The loss felt for the excitement and variety of pre-mother life.
It can feel painful, and it is natural for us to want to fast-forward to a time with more ease, sleep and independence.
When a well-intentioned bystander says to a mother of a baby to “enjoy every moment”, the mother may have visions of inflicting grievous bodily harm on that person 😉
Despite feeling like some days last forever, we can also have moments of realisation about the sacredness of this time. There can be a strong feeling of wanting to slow down our bodies and minds to soak it all in because the milestones keep unfolding; the ‘firsts’ and ‘lasts’ come and go – a painful reminder at just how short this time is.
With the benefit of 10-years’ hindsight on my own early motherhood experience, I can see what a small amount of time it was in the scheme of my life. And yet, I remember spending many moments wishing away my time, or fantasising about going on a solo holiday.
I remember thinking this was my new life and that I would never again have my own life, or have my own needs matter.
I remember feeling like all my career achievements were wasted when my daily life felt like it boiled down to laundry, preparing food and then cleaning it off the floor.
Is it possible, in early motherhood, to both recognise the intensity, joy and suffering, and realise that it will all pass?
Can we convince a new mother that independence, excitement and sleep will return?