I wish I’d known that books like this were out there before I’d had my first, or second child. Because, I, like many of the contributing authors, had a very different idea of what motherhood might mean, and found those early months (truth be told, chunks of the first years) utterly shocking. This book captured, heart wrenchingly, the hugely personal, individual roller-coaster ride of motherhood. What resonated for me particularly was the seismic shift many of the authors – people who excelled in exacting professional environments – felt upon the arrival of their babies. The contrast between the control they had over their existence professionally vs the newfound, necessary chaos of new baby-land was enormous.
I confess, tears came to my eyes as I read this book – tears of remembering the joy but also the overwhelming terror of responsibility, tiredness and total body exhaustion.
Daisy Garnett’s account of her experience in managing/riding/surviving a difficult 2 year old phase really hit a nerve for me. We all want to do our best; be the best parents we possibly can be, and it is comforting and welcome to hear that for many, it’s not as easy or as straightforward as we might have imagined.
One line I couldn’t help but scribble down as I was reading was Anne Marie Scanlon’s – ‘I wish I had known that other women lie’ – exploring this inexplicable urge for mothers to compare, contrast and often, lie, about their baby and their experiences, in order to make themselves feel better about their own circumstances. This dawned on me too far into my first year of parenthood, and I also found it liberating to decide not to spend time with certain parents as they made me feel worse, and not better about my baby and how I was parenting.
My personal mantra that several of these writers reinforced was ‘everything’s a phase…’ – nothing could be truer of caring for a newborn or toddler – the good days, the bad days, the tantrums, the colic. All of the ups and downs are merely a phase on the way to the next phase. And it does get easier.