I was inspired to write this post after reading Carly Shankman’s “Don’t put me in a box” post last week.
What kind of a Mom are you?
Are you a hippy Mom? A modern Mom? A traditional Mom? A go-with-the-flow Mom? A by-the-book Mom? We’ve all been given some type of a label in life. As teenagers we may have been known as ‘shy’ or ‘a rebel’ and as we go through the different stages of life, their are multiple labels for each period. We belong. In fact it feels nice to have a tribe.
When I was pregnant I was at the stage in my life where I was on a mission to do everything the most natural (and against the grain) way possible. And there is a huge tribe of those Mama’s that I got to become a part of. Facebook groups galore!
I was going to have my baby at home. I would breastfeed until he/she was at least 2. “What on earth are all these Mom’s with such small babies even doing in this formula isle, what is wrong with them? Don’t they know how bad this shit is for tiny babies?” I would think to myself as I strolled around Baby City with my 7 month old bump and my attitude.
I did a hypno-birthing class and I was going to have my baby without any animal-like sounds coming out of me, there would be Ben Harper playing in the background and candles lit to set the mood. It was going to be so peaceful and perfect. My Instagram feed was going to look blissful. Hashtag #naturalmama
And then… I had a baby. New stage of my life. I was thrown into a wide open space of a stereotype that didn’t exist yet. There I was, standing alone without anyone who knew what to say to me to make me feel like I wasn’t alone. As if I was the first women in the world to feel this way.
“Why do I feel like this? What is wrong with me? Why is my baby crying so much? What am I doing wrong? How am I ever going to cope? It wasn’t meant to feel like this. Will my life ever go back to normal again? I can’t even go meet the girls for coffee because I can’t breastfeed my baby without milk squirting half way across the room. This is a fucking nightmare!” This struggle… it is real.
But you can never know it, until you live it. It’s the most alone you will ever feel in your entire life. It sucks. But as every mother will tell you (if you ask), it’s beautiful too.
The problem with this period though, is that we don’t talk about it enough. You don’t actually know it exists, until you arrive. Until your body splits in half and one become two. It’s like waking up in an empty field, standing up and looking around you and seeing people standing in the very far distance, but they are so far away you could never possibly walk there to join them.
Becoming a Mom is a lonely space for the first few weeks, even months.
My most recent box “natural mama” was a very strict box. If you don’t birth your baby naturally… you don’t belong. If you don’t manage to breastfeed… you don’t belong. I was kicked out of that box quicker than I could say “but I tried I swear, please let me stay”. So which box do I belong to now?
I had a homebirth, but it turned into a cesarean. I breastfed for 4 weeks, but then switched to formula. Soy used to be the devil to me, but then it kept my baby healthy. We co-slept, but we often used the cot. I did baby led weaning, but I also fed him puree. I don’t vaccinate, but I give him Nurofen when his teeth hurt. Every morning he has a loaded fruit smoothie, but his favourite treat is Jumping Jack popcorn. I practice gentle parenting, but I lost my cool the other day and gave him a smack when he hit the TV with his broom. I let him play games on my iPhone. I toddler wear. I let him stand up in the booths at the Spur and look at the family behind us. Some of those parents find that rude, which I find really funny.
So which box do I belong to now?
I am not breastfeeding or formula feeding.
I am not baby led weaning or anti-vaccine.
I am me.
I am a mother to my child, in whatever form the moment that presents itself requires.
If there has been 1 thing that becoming a Mom has taught me, it’s that as soon as your baby is earth side, that lid comes right off the box and you are forced to make choices for yourself and the well being of your family. All those little boxes that you were once a part of, they very quickly fade away.
This is a new era.
It’s like being born again and starting from scratch. Which is scary, but pretty exciting too. You are no longer limited to a little box anymore, you have a choice. And eventually, you will find, that your tribe is much bigger now. They exist everywhere. The doctor’s office, the beach, the toilets at the mall, the isle at Woolies, a friends wedding, the car license department, that restaurant.
It feels kind of weird not belonging to a tight group of individuals anymore. It feels weird having no actual feeling of belonging. Different. Good. New. And it’s from there that we grow. We learn and we rise as Mom’s raising our babies together. I’m on my baby’s team now. And if you’ve read this far, I’m sure you are too.