As much as we may try to prepare, there is really nothing that can truly prepare you for what life will be like after your baby is born.
There is life before baby and then there is life after baby. While things may look more or less the same to an outsider, life after having a baby – especially your first, but also for subsequent babies – is so incredibly different; and so are you. What once defined you has shifted. You are now a Mother; the most powerful force on the planet.
Motherhood is so many things. You are the first teacher for your child, the instructor of the next generation. You are the first place love is learned. Your role is sacred, and that responsibility can feel heavy.
But being a mother in this world today can be a painful experience. We have lost the Village. Instead of spending our days talking, creating and raising children together, we are parenting alone in our homes. Clock watching. Waiting for our partners to return from work to provide the relief of company and conversation. Or to give us a few golden moments to be alone. As a result, our primary relationships now bear the weight of what was once filled by a tribe.
Being home all day with a baby can be hard, and it can be hard not to feel resentful of our partners. Things have changed for them too, profoundly. But after a few weeks they often go back to work, to return to a life they recognize. Your partner likely moves through their day with an enviable freedom.
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So how do we navigate through the shifting landscape of this new life? And how do we do we keep our relationship healthy as we grow?
Here is a list of considerations:
Be a woman first.
Remember who you were before you became a mother. You are YOU. Take time everyday to be yourself. This advice may seem strange – of course you are always you. But in this new role you have relinquished your time, space, and body, in service of another. Find time everyday to just be YOU.
Ask for what you need.
One of the mistakes we make in love is that we expect our partners to be able to anticipate our needs. Perhaps you had a long time together as a couple prior to having a baby and you felt that they could anticipate your needs. However, when things change on a dime with the birth of a child, that is likely to change.
In order for your child to thrive, you need to be well. Ask for what you need. A hug. A shower. A half an hour to scroll mindlessly on your phone. And if you don’t know what you need, spend some time considering that very thing. Many of us won’t know what we need right away, and that’s ok too.
Find a confidant.
Do you have someone you can talk to who will not judge you? You need that person. That person will keep you sane. Find someone other than your partner, because sometimes your partner will be the THING that you need to talk about without judgement.
Build a tribe.
Find your people. The more support you have the better. And in the same breath, release the relationships that drain you. Time and energy are so precious.
Teach and learn.
You are the expert on your baby, and you will always know the most about your baby because odds are that you will spend more time with them than anyone else (even your partner). However, be generous with your partner as they try to figure it out. Allow them their own discovery.
You are biologically connected to the needs of your child; your body responds to the subtle differences in your baby’s cries. Your partner does not have that guidance system. But this is the most important thing they have ever done, and they have overnight become the least important member in your home. Be generous. Let them learn. And let them teach you too.
Build a happier future
Creating a family is alchemical. A baby is the result of two distinct individuals and personalities that then becomes something altogether new. When it’s done well, love becomes a practice of service and sacrifice, where all members know they are safe, loved and cared for. It is from this space of safety we do our best work and thrive in life. Science has proven that healthy partnerships mean a life lived with greater health, wealth and satisfaction. Individuality is important, but we thrive in interdependence.
It is said that one single generation of children who feel good about themselves could change the world. Your children are looking for you to teach them that very thing. How to feel good about yourself and how to feel good about each other. By honouring yourself and your relationships, you can not only enjoy a happier life for yourself and your children, but you could potentially even be changing the future.