‘A mum is a mum from the moment they find out they’re pregnant’. I remember reading this before I was pregnant and it’s come up a few times since seeing that positive test result myself. But I wanted to take a moment to write about this from a really honest perspective and say that I don’t feel like a mum yet. I’m 31 weeks now and as it feels like the due date is speeding closer and closer and the fact there will be an ACTUAL baby at the end of it all is becoming more and more real.
This is not at all to say I’m not excited or ready. I’m SO excited, but also I’m nervous and very unsure of what lies ahead. I’m at the ‘final countdown’ phase that is the third trimester and post-Christmas we’ve started properly preparing and getting ready. I’m also feeling at the stage where I’m not only looking forward to baby arriving but also looking forward to not being pregnant anymore. Sure, I’ll miss the whole ‘excuse to eat everything’ and permission to wear elasticated/baggy things every day. But overall, I am looking forward to post-pregnancy life too. But actually, that’s a bit of a digression on what I wanted to touch on in this post. What I wanted to talk about is the expectation of an innate feeling of motherhood washing over you right from the get-go of pregnancy.
I’m sure for some this really does happen and that’s genuinely lovely. Maybe it depends on many other factors? From how long you’ve been ‘trying’ or wanting to have a baby or whatever your experience has been on the journey to becoming pregnant. In so many ways the idea of feeling like a mum before baby arrives is a little bit magic. But in all honesty, I personally don’t feel like I am a mum yet. I feel like me, but a little bit fatter and with a belly that has a wriggle and a kick. It can even be hard to really get my head around the fact that there’s an ACTUAL HUMAN BABY in there. I mean I clearly know that there is, but still – it is a bit of an alien concept. Alien being the key word…
But please don’t think this means I’m all detached and aloof from it all. I just wanted to be honest and say how I’ve been feeling about it. Because I think that with this ‘innate motherhood’ idea there comes an expectation or pressure that if you DON’T feel it then something is wrong. In fact in just writing this I sort of feel like I have to excuse the fact I feel this way, or apologise even. When all I’m trying to do is be honest.
So many mums I’ve spoken to mention the massive ‘mum guilt’ they feel. How they feel they’re doing it ‘wrong’ or being judged or being looked down on by other parents. From the ‘outside’ (which is still where I feel I am at this stage) it seems so ridiculous that there’s this much pressure ON TOP of the whole ‘actually raising a child’ thing. Which is easy to say, again from the outside!
I guess what I want to ‘get across’ with this post is to ‘admit’ that no – I don’t feel like I’m a mum yet. No I don’t know when that feeling will kick in. Will it be when I’m in labour? When I hold the baby for the first time? A few weeks later once we ‘get to know’ each other? Who knows. I have no doubt that I will love the baby and do everything I can to keep it happy, healthy and safe. But do I feel like a mum? Not yet. No. And in my opinion, that’s ok and definitely not something I (or anyone) should feel guilt for admitting.
Then, the next thought that pops into my head is ‘what does feeling like a mum actually FEEL like?’ Maybe it’s the daily worry and guilt that so many have told me about?! (doesn’t THAT sound like something to look forward to…) M1aybe it’s knowing you would do ANYTHING for your baby. Maybe it’s just some magical wave of a feeling I’ve never felt before?
I think for me it might be connected to how I generally feel about having a family and being a mum. Growing up I’ve never had this ‘ultimate goal’ of becoming a mum. It was on my radar as something you do in life, sure. But not any more or less so than say… going to Uni after A levels or getting a job after that. It was a step in the path of life I sort of assumed I’d probably take along the way. Later on, probably even post-30 was when I realised that I definitely did want a family. Not necessarily a baby as such – but I knew I didn’t want Ollie and I to grow old without a family around us and a baby is of course the first step to that. Maybe this is partly why I don’t feel that I feel like a mum at this stage?
Even as I write this there’s a voice in my head that just says ‘pah, what do you know’ and that’s the thing really. What do I know? Not much. Especially not about being a mum. I know I have an absolutely amazing mum myself and she would be the first to admit she isn’t a ‘mumsy mum’ as such. So maybe that’s what I’ve learnt from – mums come in all shapes and sizes and with all different approaches and attitudes and I don’t yet know what shape/size/attitude I’ll be bringing to motherhood. I’d love to say I will be able to shut myself off from the expectations and pressure, but how realistic is that? Not very. But I also know I don’t want or expect being a mum to define me – I’ve spent the last 33 years as Jen, that doesn’t stop or become obsolete the moment baby arrives (or at least I seriously hope not!).
Let’s just say, becoming a parent is a pretty daunting prospect at the best of times. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel truly ‘ready’ and who knows when I’ll feel like a mum. Right now it’s just about the next pregnancy milestone around the corner – which is rapidly becoming labour & birth… and sharing a few honest thoughts along the way.
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