In Praise of You
Since becoming a mother, I have been surprised at how few people actually ask ‘How are you?’ ‘How are you feeling?’.
It appears that you are supposed to be floating around in a little bubble of constant happiness following the birth of your child (and all throughout pregnancy, come to think of it). I know I am guilty of applying general well-meaning commentary to friends in the past. Since experiencing it first hand, however, it is the mum and her emotional and total wellbeing that I am more concerned with when I see a blooming belly or a bouncing baby in someone’s arms.
How many times have you heard people exclaiming ‘oh, what a beautiful baby you have’, ‘how old is he/she?’, ‘you must be thrilled to be pregnant’?
Yes! It is wonderful to have the appreciation of almost anyone that you meet in the street, but sometimes it can be alienating when you just want to scream ‘I was sick 8 times today’ ‘I’ve had no sleep!’ ‘My boobs are sore and my nipples are cracked’ ‘I’m exhausted’. Instead, to save other people’s embarrassment, you simply smile and jolly yourself up (and later have a chocolate biscuit to ease the frustration!). There is also a great deal of judgement and guilt placed on mums-to-be and mums on what they should/should not be doing, especially when it comes to how they look and weight management (and fitting back into your pre-pregnancy clothes).
I am ashamed to say, that many years ago, I had a very simplified view of exercise and how people do/do not adhere to it. I used to feel thoroughly disappointed when clients would stick meticulously to their exercise programmes (lovingly prepared by myself) and then stop suddenly when they became pregnant, or return to the gym following their long awaited birth, only to peter out their training within a short time.
I now know the reasons why from my own experience. I know that people can feel absolutely rotten through pregnancy, that even when the will is so strong, the body is just working so hard to cocoon the new life within that it is exhausted and a sofa looks a much more appealing option at the end of a long day. I know that information and advice on exercise at any stage of pregnancy or postnatally is extremely conflicting, even sometimes from your health professional. I also now know that just getting out of the house when you’ve had no sleep/are breastfeeding or have endless bottle sterilising to do/a mountain of washing/a partner who thinks that all you do all day is sit and look lovingly at your baby/ies sometimes feels like mission impossible!
For all those reasons I know that I have become an even better fitness instructor through my new understanding and empathy. I am here to shout your praise if you get out for a walk, do a gym session, fit in a few exercises whilst your baby has a nap or even contemplate starting a new fitness regime whilst pregnant or after having children (no matter how long ago it was!).
This is why the following piece struck a chord when I saw it doing the rounds on social media, and I think it should be shared with every mother, no matter how old her children. Oh, and I will ask how you are, not judge how well you are by how jolly your baby appears!
Have a lovely day/night, and keep smiling.
“To the mum who’s breastfeeding: Way to go! It really is an amazing gift to give your baby, for any amount of time that you can manage! You’re a good mum.
To the mum who’s formula feeding: Isn’t science amazing? To think there was a time when a baby with a mother who couldn’t produce enough would suffer, but now? Better living through chemistry! You’re a good mum.
To the cloth nappy mum: Fluffy bums are the cutest, and so friendly on the bank account. You’re a good mum.
To the disposable nappy mum: Damn those things hold a lot, and it’s excellent to not worry about leakage and laundry! You’re a good mum.
To the mom who stays home: I can imagine it isn’t easy doing what you do, but to spend those precious years with your babies must be amazing. You’re a good mom.
To the mum who works: It’s wonderful that you’re sticking to your career, you’re a positive role model for your children in so many ways, it’s fantastic. You’re a good mum.
To the mum who had to feed her kids from the drive thru all week because you’re too worn out to cook or go grocery shopping: You’re feeding your kids, and hey, I bet they aren’t complaining! Sometimes sanity can indeed be found in a red box with a big yellow M on it. You’re a good mum.
To the mum who gave her kids a homecooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for the past week: Excellent! Good nutrition is important, and they’re learning to enjoy healthy foods at an early age, a boon for the rest of their lives. You’re a good mum.
To the mum with the kids who are sitting quietly and using their manners in the fancy restaurant: Kudos, it takes a lot to maintain order with children in a place where they can’t run around. You’re a good mum.
To the mum with the toddler having a meltdown in the cereal aisle: They always seem to pick the most embarrassing places to lose their minds don’t they? We’ve all been through it. You’re a good mum.
Sometimes we all need to hear this, and stop judging each other.
Please share this with all the mummies you know, they may need to hear these words!
This was written by a Midwife.”