If you’re anything like me then you’ve probably felt guilty for talking about your baby to the group when you finally get a moment away to socialise. Another thing to add to the long list of mum guilts. I have learned that talking about our babies is our protective barrier. It means we don’t have to talk about the career we no longer have, or the fact that our house is never clean anymore, or the fact that we haven’t spent alone time with our partners in months or any of the other massive changes we’re still processing and adapting to. It’s not that the old version of us is gone forever, even though some days it can feel like it. It’s just going to take some time and it’s something each of us has to go through in our own time. It can be deflating to think about how out of reach they feel at this very moment. No matter how ‘ready’ I thought I was, there was no amount of preparation I could have done to be prepared for a complete 180 and to my identity.
We don’t have to be experiencing post-natal depression or anxiety to be struggling with our new identity, but some of us are. It’s an added struggle not an exclusive check-box for maternal mental health struggles. Sometimes we get carried away with the relatability of our struggles between each other and forget about our individual struggles.
For a lot of us our tamariki are the constant. We feel whakamā about all the changes in our lives. Some of us thought we’d be back at work by now, or that it wouldn’t be this hard, that we‘d have time to take up a new craft, or start renovating, or at least decorating the house. Talking about how we are, or what’s been going on, can be emotional sometimes. Sometimes we just want to hide behind the new milestone or funny poo story our pēpi are up to instead of hearing the collective “ohh” from the group when you answer “when are you planning to go back to work?” with “I’m not too sure yet we’ll see where we’re at when he’s 1”. We don’t need all that extra judgement that comes with the hesitance of stumbling over words trying to say the right thing, we already feel it 100 times over from ourselves without anyone adding to it.
I’m not trying to only talk about my baby but it’s my safe space. It makes me feel like I’m still worthy and needed when everything else feels like it has been stripped away. It’s taken me 10 months to even have the time to sit back and assess that that’s why I do it and that actually maybe there‘s more going on underneath the surface of that throwaway comment or that funny pēpi story. Don’t worry māmā’s, I got this and you do too!