New mums: This one's for you
For anyone finding life with a newborn isn't quite what you expected.
Does anyone ever feel like they’re really struggling but can’t quite put their finger on why? I’ve felt like that the past couple of days, which came to a head today when I burst into tears at the dinner table while out with my sister and her family. As she took the shambles of a human that looked a bit like her little sister outside, she asked what was wrong and at first I didn’t really know how to reply. I suddenly just felt really overwhelmed.
Talking it through with Kirst, I realised it was due to my earlier reflection on the fact that Rex is now three months old. And just how hard those three months have been. But that wasn’t the only reason I was upset. I was upset because I realised I didn’t know of anyone else who’d struggled as much as I felt I have in these early months, and it made me feel like I’m not coping or doing a good job with Rex.
Why was I, a fairly intelligent, level-headed woman, finding what everyone else seemed to make look so easy so bloody hard? It was then I realised how rare it is to hear or read about women struggling with motherhood. How we all need to talk about it more. And how social media can be really toxic.
The non-reality of social media
When I found out I was pregnant, I started following many new mum and baby-related accounts on Instagram and Facebook, because I felt like I needed all the help I could get. And ninety per cent of them paint the most amazingly beautiful but entirely unrealistic picture of what it’s like to be a mum. And I do it too. We post want we want the world to see, which isn’t that your kid has been screaming for hours and you don’t know how to stop them, or that you have no idea how you're going to make it through the next minute, let alone the next hour. The truth is that very rarely is someone’s social media accounts a true reflection of their reality. Mine included.
If you were to look at my Instagram account from when Rex was little, you'd think I'm the happiest mum in the world and that all my baby does is smile. The reality is that while that is true some of the time, when it’s not like that I’m struggling to stay awake, often haven’t brushed my hair and/or teeth and Rex is wailing somewhere while I’m willing him to shut the hell up. While I am very honest with my blog posts, my social media accounts make it look like this motherhood malarkey is a total piece of piss, when my reality is that it's anything but. In fact, it is, hands down, the hardest thing I have ever done.
Don’t get me wrong, the last thing I want to hear and see is mums struggling and having a shit time 24/7. I am also not begrudging any women who genuinely finds motherhood comes naturally to them. I just sometimes wish there was just a bit more honesty floating about. You never know who is looking at your accounts and sometimes knowing that someone else is going or has gone through the same thing as you is massively reassuring and can help more than you realise.
As much as my world was made when Rex arrived, it also fell apart in a way I never thought or dreamed it could do. Three years on, and I still have no idea what I'm doing, and wing motherhood every single day. But I wanted to take a minute to say to any new mums out there, it does get better, I promise. And if you need help, some of the most wonderfully understanding and brilliant people are out there waiting to help so please don't be afraid to ask. You can find more details on various services over on the parent support page, or contact your GP or health visitor for local support services in your area.