Motherhood is the wildest ride. I can scarcely believe it's been over a year now since Benjamin was born, and at the same time, I feel as if I was never not his mother. We're in a good groove now. It's easier today than it has ever been (and not just because he's at nursery as I type this!) and at times it's almost impossible to remember how difficult I found it all this time last year.
No one's transition to motherhood is easy, I don't think. Mine certainly wasn't worse than average, I'm sure. Even though I had prepared, both mentally and, I guess, logistically, whilst I was pregnant, you can't really know how it will be to have a tiny being in your arms who totally depends on you for their survival. Benjamin was an easy baby, as far as they go. He has always been pretty chilled out, content to watch me as I cook in the kitchen, or happy to come along for the ride wherever we're headed. He's good-natured and generally quick with his smiles and laughter; he has made it as easy on me as it was possible to be. But still I found myself in tears on more than one occasion during those first six months, at first just convinced that I had utterly ruined my life and become a slave to this tiny, squawking being, and later just frustrated or annoyed that *everything* in my life revolved around his needs, and all I wanted was a simple five minutes in which to not think about someone else.
The start of 2018, when he was about 6 months old, felt like a big turning point for both of us. We understood each other a bit better by then, and I was relaxing into the whole motherhood game a lot more. It's probably not a coincidence that January was also when I started doing a day back at work per week, or that I am happier than ever as a mother now that I am back at work properly. Surrendering everything I had and was to motherhood felt painful and awkward; being a mother alongside everything else in my life feels far more natural and fun.
I know, of course, that there are plenty of parenting challenges ahead, and probably some will be more difficult than the endless cycle of eat-nap-poop-repeat of those newborn days. I am already second guessing myself when I find myself saying certain things to him, wondering how best to lay out the world in front of him so he can pick it up. But I also feel like it will never again be as hard as it has been this past year, as I struggled to come to terms with my new lot in life, whilst also being more sleep deprived than I ever have been before (and hopefully ever will be again).
Not all of the transition to motherhood is about the actual act of mothering; I've also found it a struggle to adjust to my new identity whilst knowing that the world simultaneously venerates and scorns mothers. With a heavy emphasis on the scorn. Mummy bloggers. Mums with prams in places they 'shouldn't' be. Mums who breastfeed in public. Mums who drink too much, swear too much, care too much. It often feels as though you absolutely can't win as a mother when it comes to the world's point of view, and whilst what 'others' think of you shouldn't be of much concern, it is hard to enter this new phase without being aware of the patronising, sexist view that society tends to take towards mums.
There just feels like so many potholes to stumble on as you navigate the world as a new mother - being a mummy bore by talking too much about your kids, seeming too mumsy or not mumsy enough, focusing too much on your career or not enough on it, and so on and on and on. It feels sometimes that mothers are always seen as a little bit 'less than' the rest of the world, always with one foot in a different camp because you can't be 100% mum and 100% employee and 100% wife and 100% friend and 100% engaged citizen of the world because that's too many percents and you're split every which way. I know, of course, that a lot of this is in my head; no one has ever really expressed those things to me, but it's all so new and raw, this motherhood thing, that I can't help but be self-conscious about it.
But, despite the bumps in the road, it has truly been a transformative experience for me. I have found new depths of creativity and joy that I didn't even know existed. I have loved so much of Benjamin's first year, watching him go from helpless little bean into my not-so-tiny buddy. Nothing melts your heart like your baby giving you kisses, or lighting up with glee when they see you from across the room or hear your voice. It's an emotional rollercoaster, and boy do I wish I got to sleep more, but if this first year is anything to go by, I'm so glad I'm on board.