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I was a terrible mother. In fact, had there been a global mothering examination when I joined the motherhood, I would have scored in the lowest one per cent. Easily. Those stern examiners would have taken one look at my score, shaken their heads in utter disbelief, then summoned me to Mothering HQ for a complete dressing-down. “So, Mrs Breeze, what do you mean you didn’t realise that breastfeeding doesn’t come easily?” “You expect us to believe that you’d never heard the term colic before your son was born!?” “You really thought your body would immediately spring back to how it used to be? Ha!” “Didn’t you ask anyone with previous experience? Didn’t you read the required textbooks?”
But the thing is, I did ask women with previous experience and the majority told me how lovely it all was and how great it was all going. And as for the truth-telling textbooks, well, we all know they don’t exist. So, what was a new mum supposed to do except struggle on until it all made sense?
But that is not the way it has to be. Oh, no! I cannot stand by and allow one more innocent woman to enter parenthood without full and complete disclosure. And with Mother’s Day upon us, what better gift to give all mothers-in-waiting than the kind of knowledge we wish we had been given in advance. The perfect advice to prepare for life after pregnancy, if you will.
So, with this in mind, I sent out a call to the mothers of Hong Kong and, sure enough, they responded in force. No more shall the mysteries of motherhood remain secret! No more shall shock descend upon an unsuspecting parent! No more shall … OK, I’ll just get on with it. Behold our words of wisdom:
• Babies cry. More than you think. No, even more than that.
• Crying along with your baby in the first few weeks is normal.
• Finding yourself on the sofa in your pyjamas at 3 o’clock in the afternoon without having had a shower or breakfast is also normal.
• Sometimes wondering why you thought having a baby was a great idea is, yes, you’ve guessed it, normal. It’s called hormones.
• Viewing baby puke on your clothes as a fashion statement will start to seem like a better option than having to constantly change your outfit. (And by outfit, I mean pyjamas.)
• Convincing yourself that you look fabulous in maternity clothes for the first six months of your baby’s life will be preferential to going on a diet.
• Guilt will do its best to trip you up at any given opportunity. Acknowledge its presence. Just don’t look it straight in the eye.
• You will be busy. Very busy. Busy in a way that even bees have never been.
• Anyone who says their baby is sleeping through the night at four weeks is lying or has some incredible secret technique that they need to share now!
• If your baby loves to be on the boob, don’t fight it! Simply take up permanent residence on the sofa whilst ensuring access to remotes, beverages, food and phone.
• And, finally, there will be times you will feel like a train wreck, a basket case and a complete nuthead all at the same time. This, my friends, means you have finally arrived!
So, mums-to-be, there it is – a gift from us to you. It may not be chocolate or jewellery or a nice bottle of champagne but, with any luck, it will last a whole lot longer. And to all the mums out there, here’s a little piece of advice from me: Don’t ever underestimate the incredible job you do every day simply by being you.
Happy Mother’s Day!
Orla Breeze is the founder of Joyful Parenting, offering workshops, evenings and individual sessions that focus on changing your kids’ behaviour by changing your own. Her popular workshops, including Daddy 101 and Second Time Around, are run in partnership with Annerley (www.annerley.com.hk). For more information, dates and times, visit www.orlabreeze.com.