Motherhood is a journey of personal development: the things I’m learning about myself

Six months ago today, I was bringing a new life into the world. One of the days I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The start of a new journey. The day I became a mum. The day our team of two welcomed a bundle of energy and smiles. The day I embarked on the most amazing, yet challenging learning curve I’ve ever been on.

The past 6 months have flown by. Six months of joy and fun but also six months of sleep deprivation and trying to find my feet as a new mother.

There are days I feel out of my depth and others I feel confident about the choices I’m making for my family. But most days, I’m winging it… Trying to work it all out as I go along. So far, we seem to be doing ok.

Motherhood has definitely opened a part of myself I didn’t know about. I’ve discovered resources and fears I didn’t think I had.

The things I am learning about myself by becoming a mumI am much more patient that I thought I was

I didn’t know I had this in me. Getting things done takes so much more time than it used to… Who knew you could spend an hour solidly breastfeeding… Ok, it is an opportunity to sit back and relax but an hour can be excruciatingly frustrating when you’re someone who’s on the go all the time.

You ‘just’ have to learn to let go and surrender to the process. An opportunity to slow down and go into a contemplative state I guess. It really isn’t easy for everyone. The same goes with getting the baby to sleep: singing, rocking, stroking, putting the baby down and picking him up again to repeat the whole process… At any time of the day. And night.

Without mentioning venturing out into the world. Getting ready to go out can sometimes be is always a challenging mission!

I am not a naturally patient person, let’s be honest. I am relaxed but I like to get on with things. However, babies are unpredictable and need a lot of comfort and attention, understandably so. They can’t really have a word with themselves and answer their parents’ needs. It works the other way around. And it’s fine. It’s actually good for me. Learning to be patient and surrender to the process is making me a more flexible and tolerant person.

I would do anything for him

Wow! We are definitely animals. Protective instinct kicked in the minute Babou came into the world. That day, I knew I would do anything in my power to protect and preserve him. This ranges from defending our parenting choices when these are being questioned by closed ones or strangers to taking a bullet for him if his life was ever being threatened.

I am scared of dying and missing out

This is the biggest challenge for me. It comes and goes but it is often in my thoughts. I always used to think I was ok with leaving the world one day. I thought I was at peace with the idea of dying. Until I had Babou.

I have sat next to his crib sobbing many times since he was born. Both grateful that I’m by his side able to see him grow into an amazing little person and extremely sad at the same time realising the impermanence of life. My last breath might be in an hour, in a week or 50 years. There is a fine line between death and life and everything can be gone within seconds. It’s overwhelming. Yes it may be morbid but this is life and I don’t want to bury this fear, it’s real and I need to look at it in the face and work on making peace with it.

I don’t want to go and leave my loved ones behind. I want to be by their side, always. I don’t want to miss a second of my kids’ and husband’s life. In terms of personal development, this is huge. I need to work on that. I want to leave with a serene heart. For that, I must savour every single moment, the joyful times as well as the more challenging ones. Life is precious.

Being a mindful communicator preserves your relationship

Becoming a parent inevitably impacts on your relationship. Sleep deprivation is a killer. That combined with not knowing what we’re doing and riding the roller coaster of hormones can create an interesting cocktails of emotions. A cocktail that can burst every now and then as the pressure just has to be released.

I realise that learning to communicate effectively and non-violently with your partner is important, more than ever.  I wrote a post about this when I was pregnant, explaining the power of non violent communication and how it can quickly pacify a situation. You can read it here.

My husband and I are lucky in the way that we rarely argue but I have noticed that sometimes, I expect him to read my mind and know exactly what I mean, want, need. This has inevitably resulted in complete miscomprehension and unnecessary tension.  I blame lack of sleep. I am so tired there are days I can’t even talk properly. I end up speaking Franglish, my sentences are about three word long and not even in the right order.  I look forward to a non interrupted night sleep, to feeling refreshed and being able to have a full conversation with people without switching off and staring in the empty every now and then. It is hard to watch your communication style when you’re sleep deprived and suffering from baby brain syndrome but it’s worth making the effort.

I believe communication in a couple (and with friends and family) is one of the keys to happy and long lasting relationships. Not any type of communication: mindful communication. Actively listening and communicating one’s needs clearly.

Wanting the best for your child can affect your mental health

I am talking about my personal journey with breastfeeding. There is so much pressure on new mums to breastfeed these days. It is hard not to feel guilty if you choose not to or if you choose to stop after a few weeks. I had a good first couple of months with no issue except the first week which is hard for everyone I think. Then suddenly, I started having issues and ended up having to exclusively pump and feed Babou in a bottle. So my days were structured around my express sessions. I couldn’t go out for more than 3 hours. All I talked about was breastfeeding. I spent a lot of time justifying to people why I was giving the bottle, going into far too much detail about my situation. They couldn’t care less but it was my way to let me off the hook and not feel guilty. I felt the need to explain why I wasn’t giving him the boob. I worried people might judge me if they saw a bottle, perhaps thinking I was giving him the dreaded poison, formula…

I did this for a couple of months. I was exhausted. I was starting to get really miserable. I could tell my mental health was suffering. I had a honest chat with the husband and it helped put things in perspective. I had a word with myself, I did some Sophrology which helped me look at my situation with more distance and non-judgment. I realised I was running myself to the ground with this obsession to give the best to my baby, the so-desired white gold! What was best? A fully breastfed baby with a miserable mum which would only result in an unhappy baby. Or a formula fed baby with a relaxed happy mum? I slowly transitioned onto formula. I cut myself some slack and gave myself a big tap on the back “I did well, 4 months of exclusive breastmilk is good enough”. I gave myself love and permission to let go. Babou is a thriving and happy baby 6 months old baby, 100% formula fed.

I feel so much better in myself.

I am much stronger and more resilient than I thought I was

Strange how you can be utterly exhausted, mentally and physically, yet able to keep on going… I am so much stronger than I thought I was. So much more resilient. No matter how you feel, you somehow find the resources within yourself to keep on going.

I am sure that motherhood has a lot more surprises in store for me. I look forward to discovering more and more about myself through this process.

And you, what have you learned about yourself when you became a mum or dad?

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4 thoughts on “Motherhood is a journey of personal development: the things I’m learning about myself

  1. Love your blog. Funny, yesterday I wrote a post on similar topic.
    It’s interesting that we have learned so many new skills and things about ourselves that we never even knew before they existed. Like this good old patience – just like you (if I had to diagnose myself I would say I’ve got ADHD and attention span of a hummingbird ) I’ve always struggled with being patient (everyone around me knows that) – now I’m the last man standing and trying to teach it my husband. I guess there are some things that only a mother is capable of.
    Love your blog (have I said it already? )

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Aga and I’m so pleased you like my blog. I know… it’s incredible what we discover about ourselves when we become a mum. It shows we had these resources within ourselves but it took a new challenge to bring them out to the surface. We change so much in these few months. It’s a real learning curve. We’re so much stronger than we thought we were. It’s beautiful. Like a part of ourself was born at the same time as we brought a new life into the world…

  2. Hey Marion,
    Tout d’abord BRAVO, hein ça fait toujours du bien…
    Deuxiemement, je te souhaite des nuits pleines, longues, ressourcantes, et là je vois tout à fait ce que tu traverses, j’ai eu droit à des nuits entrecoupées pendant presque 15 – 16 mois et je dois dire que ce fut le pire de tout… Sisi avec presque des envies de meutres parfois ( sur le conjoint ) bref… Tiens bon.
    Troisiemement, bravo encore, tu as allaité puis tiré ton lait et maintenant le biberon, bravo, tu as fait au maximum de ce que tu pouvais, piur toi, lui .. Et tu as su prendre de bonnes decisions … Ici il a eut du lait de riz special bébé, puis du lait de riz, amande et autres maintenant et ce n’etait pas mon choix premier. Mais ses allergies ont redessiné la donne, pour lui, moi, notre santé mentale.
    C’est génial de ne pas se cantonner à se qu’on pensait vouloir, pouvoir faire mais évoluer… Allez plus que 6 mois, et la vie changera petit à petit, promis.
    La premiere année est la plus dure. Et ici pas de ciné pour maman – bébé 😉
    Au moins tu n’es pas isolée et c’est important.
    Ne sois pas dure avec toi meme.
    Gros bisous

    1. Vio, merci beaucoup pour tes mots qui me touchent beaucoup. Oui je confirme, les nuits saccadées are a killer! C’est bien cela qui m’affecte le plus. Je ne sais plus ce que ça fait de ne pas être fatiguée 24h sur 24! 15-16 mois, c’est sportif! Wow… c’est fou comme nous sommes des êtres résistants! je crois que je suis bien partie sur la même lancée. ça me donne de l’espoir de lire que ça va devenir plus facile et puis un jour, il fera ses nuits et je me sentirai de nouveau humaine.
      Des fois, je me dis que je n’aurai pas la force en moi pour un deuxième!
      Au plaisir de papoter, pourquoi pas sur Skype un de ces jours si tu veux, ça fait très longtemps! Grosses bises

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