28 July 2017

Watercolour painting made by me!

Motherhood, in all its glory and challenges is hard work. Nothing can prepare you for what your life is going to be once you become a mother, your whole being will shift dramatically. I say dramatically because if anything, hormone-charged emotions are abound. All of your pre-conditioned upbringing will come into play and it will be heightened because suddenly you are now responsible for another human life and all you have are memories of how you were raised and the values your parents instilled in you. In my personal experience, eighty percent (80%) of the time, Motherhood is pure joy, immense love, total admiration and incredible pride for oneself and your baby. And the other twenty percent (20%) is a mix of heartache, disappointment, frustration, sleepless nights, self doubt and unwarranted mother's guilt.

The reality is, no books (not even the amazing Maggie Dent) can truly teach you how to be a mother but it can guide you to become self-aware in what works for you and your family. Our babies play a big part in shaping us to the mother we are meant to be.

I once read somewhere that the best thing you can give your children is a happy mummy. A statement that spoke to me more than any other pieces of advice I've received and welcomed since joining the motherhood tribe. It was the one thing that got me through the low points in the early weeks of motherhood when I had William. I felt lonely and isolated from the rest of the world, even to my new found mummy friends, why? Because people's views are different and sadly judgement is given more than kindness. I was judged for bottle-feeding my newborn, for co-sleeping,  for not wearing my baby, for using a dummy, for choosing my baby over drinks with friends, for saying no to late dinners, for letting my baby "rule" / "change" my life and many more. It was hard and shocking because you'd think that every mother in the world would have compassion to another, but it's always easier to judge. I've done it, I judged mums too and joined mums who judged other mums. Insecurities play a big part when judgement is thrown to another mother. And like I said, your pre-conditioned upbringing will play a big part in the early days when you're new to the role and you are just as blind as every other new mums navigating this new path.

You know nothing Jon Snow. 

I knew nothing about motherhood. I had pre-conceived notions of what it is going to be but I didn't realise how "generic" they all were until now. It's not one size fits all. So when it became lonely because of the judgements, I vowed to choose my happy-self because it was said the best gift you can give your children is a happy mummy, and I believed it.

I've shared it to new mums in the hope that it will be as powerful mantra as it was to me. But that was before Thomas. Death of a child also shifts your whole being so dramatically and it messes the emotional balance you once established for yourself. Grief is so complex that no two days are ever the same even if you do the exact same things. It's neither linear nor straight-forward. Once you lose a child, your happiness will now co-exist with sadness forever.

And so now my stance has changed which means I am changing as a mother (once again). I don't believe that the best thing we can give our children is a happy version of ourselves.  I think and truly believe that our children need, an authentic version of ourselves. We show all kinds of emotions to our children like love, happiness, adoration, anger, frustration, exhaustion but it's often concealed when we're sad. I've told myself many times to not be sad, to gather myself together, it's the last time I'm crying, I am stronger than this. I told my William countless times that there's no need for tears or "you can't be sad" or "Don't be sad" or "What are you sad about, you should be happy because...". I've been told by my parents (and other elderly members of my family) that If you're sad you're weak. Crying is for the weak. Boys don't cry. Big girls don't cry. If you show your tears they will take you as a weak person.

My son needs a mummy who is not afraid to show emotions, especially sadness. A mummy who is willing to admit that it's ok to not be ok and it's ok to talk about it. A mummy who acknowledges that life is not all about the highs, there are lows too and they are equally essential for ones emotional and mental maturity. Compassion is often birthed by sadness and in today's world, we lack compassion.

Suppressing ones sadness can lead to anger. I know, I've done it and sometimes I'm still doing it subconsciously. 

Happiness is one of the many things we seek in life and it's important that we make a conscious decision to be happy when we can, where we can. I think life is magical when you're happy. But life isn't perfect and we shouldn't create a facade of happiness for the sake of "staying happy" or "being strong" or "being the best role model". Happiness doesn't equate strength, authenticity does.

I still don't know anything about motherhood, I only know how to be a mother to my sons, one in my arms and one in my heart. But one thing is certain now, I'll be challenging myself to be more authentic for my sake, for my babies' sake, for my family's sake. I am challenging you too.

As always, thank you for all the love sent my way. You are all magnificent human beings. How is your heart today?

Be kind always,
Sheryl xo

*It's ok to seek help, it's more than OK. It's not a sign of weakness, not one bit. If you feel you're being consumed by your grief, loneliness and sadness, it's ok to seek help.