As everyone says, you can never be fully prepared for motherhood but the most surprising thing is how much it has surprised me. It has surprised me how hard it is. But it has also surprised me how easy it is. I hesitate to say the latter in case I jinx myself, but Ben has been so chilled out that I have found it so much easier than I expected. I am surprised at myself as a mother. I am more relaxed than I ever imagined I would be. I think we’re in a bit of a feedback loop with Ben; the more chilled out he is, the more relaxed we are and vice versa. I have finally learnt to go with the flow, and it’s Ben that’s teaching me.
Where before I would want to be prepared for every eventuality and keep everything on plan, Ben has his own agenda and right now I have the luxury of being able to be guided by him. Every time I have started to get anxious that he is not making progress, he has turned around and shown me that he was just waiting for the right time. So I have stopped worrying. I haven’t picked up a parenting book once, and I think that’s helping me, too. Benjamin is his very own baby and my job is just to let him do his thing.
I am also a lot less ‘mumsy’ than I thought I would be. I have always been quite maternal, so I thought I would slip into that role with Ben almost immediately. But I am surprised to find that I do not love this newborn stage as much as I thought I would. Spending time with him is a joy, but spending every moment of every day with him is, well, a bit much. I am fighting so much harder for my own identity and to continue doing the things I love doing than I thought I would. I expected to let all of my hobbies and interests fall to the wayside, but I am surprised to find myself clinging to them harder than ever. Maternity leave is a long stretch of blank time and I have to fill that time with something other than solely baby-care because otherwise I fear I might go mad. But amongst all of that, I am still surprised to find how content I am just sitting with him asleep on me or watching him kick about on his playmat. I am surprised how fascinating your own baby can be, but also how boring your days together can become if you don’t work on it.
People talk about the immediate, overwhelming love that you feel for your baby. I didn’t feel that. Or, rather, it didn’t come all at once the moment he was born. Maybe because I was so exhausted… At first I felt more of a sense of responsibility than I did a feeling of love, which surprised me. But, as I get to know him and his little ways, I love him more and more. He is such a sweet little babe and he is so very easy to love, which is no surprise at all. It is, however, a surprise that you can come to know someone so completely in just a few short weeks. I feel as though I know everything about him, but there is also so much more to find out. I’m excited for all of the surprises to come…