What having a baby has taught me about my mother

I’ve not always had such a great relationship with my mum; I’ve pushed, she’s pulled; I shout, she sighs; I stand and she takes my fall. I’ve tested her to what anyone would normally assume is breaking point yet she merely bends and sways in my wrath – she never breaks.
Now, we’re close, more so now because of having a baby and how I have come to respect and admire the wonder that she is. Here’s what I have learned about my mother from motherhood

  1. Forgetting names makes perfect sense when your mind is occupied entirely by your child. Doubtless your mum has called you every name under the sun except your actual one. I’ve always gotten a little exasperated by this because HELLO, I’m your daughter, you chose my name and have known me by it for 28 years. But, I’ve started doing it, worse, I do it with everyday household items, “Mr H, fetch me that round thing for water.” (a bowl) “Mr H, plug that hot burny thing in” (the iron) – I swear, I didn’t just push out a baby, I pushed out half of my vocabulary. My brain has been rewired to think only of LR (when was her last feed, is her nappy still okay, is she happy, was that a fart or a present?) and anything outside of her sphere of existence is an added pressure that my mind can’t always cope with. Going out to see friends gets me a little panicked as I need to rehearse acceptable conversation topics so that I’m not just talking about my child’s feeding cycle.
    Mum, I get you. Keep calling me by my sister’s name, it’s cool.
  2. Leaving the house in 3,2,1….NO. The amount of arguments I have had with my folks about getting out of the house at a decent hour is almost a long-standing joke. You say 9am, they say 10:30, that sort of thing (ha, I can see my mother’s eyebrows rising from the UK). But, I now sort of get it.
    To leave the house with a baby can take two hours. NO JOKE.
    LR wakes fully at 7 and if she is in a good mood, I can then have breakfast and change her, and feed her and maybe do some work. Then she’ll want to go for her morning nap at around 8:30 and that process can take 30-40mins (no, a baby doesn’t happily close their eyes when they are tired). That nap should be an hour and in that time I can get the car ready IF she remains asleep. Then just before we leave, I need to change her and feed her and start the horrific car journey. This is not accounting for vomiting which can lead to another change of clothes OR monstrous number 2s which seep out like the creature from the black (it’s actually orangey) lagoon and require special forces intervention.
  3. I’ll sleep when I’m dead. No really, because no one will need me then. “Why don’t you just nap when she naps” is just one of the many comments that should earn its utterer a smack. I think my mum has been tired for 30 years because of all the actions needed to sustain life, sleep gets left at the bottom of the to-do list. When LR sleeps, I can then eat, or wash, or work, or clean. Maybe I can do all of those things! I am currently typing this with her little body cradled in the nook of my right arm (she’s teething, so is hating to be put down). If I sleep, I can’t do any of that. I now understand why my mum wants to sleep when she can, if she can. She deserves to have long lie-ins and when I come and visit, I promise to let you sleep like the sleeping beauty that you are.
  4. Losing a child for a mother is the worst thing in the world. In my selfishness, I thought that losing a brother was disastrous and that no one in my family could possibly understand. Staring into LR’s perfectly made face, the mere wisp of a thought that something might happen to her brings tears to my eyes.
    My darling mother, who carried her precious child for 41 weeks, went through a difficult, emergency C-section to save her boy’s life, then watched him, nurtured him, enfolded him in her arms and traced the words “I love you” on his skin – for her to be robbed of his life at only 7 years of age and to not be fully allowed to grieve, to pull the darkness over her and weep for the sake of her remaining child, is incomprehensible.
    To wake up and not see the face that you prayed over, kissed, laughed with – to see an empty bedroom and clothes that will never be filled by his body – for your hands to not hold what you lovingly created and adored…
    9+ months. 7 years. Gone in seconds as if it never really mattered in the first place.
    And through it all, she kept pulling our family through, kept repairing the fraying rope that tied us all together.
    I have never been more in awe of her as I am now.


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  • Reply juwayra August 7, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I also have not had a great relationship with my mom but as soon as I became a parent it changed. Everything I didn’t understand became clear to me. I’m just grateful that I still have her in my life still. Great post!

    • Reply Shante Hutton August 7, 2016 at 2:04 pm

      Lovely to read this Juwayra – it’s amazing how much motherhood changes everything!

  • Reply Brain Heiermann August 26, 2016 at 4:22 pm

    However, having a baby has also taught me something surprising about writing and drama. Writing With a Baby . Your characters are your babies , and I’m realizing that having a child of your own helps you become a better parent to your characters. Watching her in action has taught me to swallow my pride and just ask for what I need. Then, all of a sudden my screen went blank. My little baby girl had hit the power button and shut my computer down.

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