by KATE SELTH
I’m sorry. If you are ever thinking of having children then I owe you an apology. I’m the one you’ve heard describing my exasperating experiences raising babies and toddlers in fine, emotional detail. Actually I think it was me and every other mother ever to live.
We need to learn to filter. I think we’re freaking you non-mums out a little.
I’ve recently become aware of this issue.
It was about the time the phrase ‘paediatric chiropractor spinal realignment’ came up. My once confident and bubbly girlfriend looked at me as her hand slid slowly down to her tiny growing bump.
‘I can’t take it anymore,’ she said. ‘There’s just too much to worry about.’
My newly pregnant friend had been listening into our conversation. It was just a normal gathering of the girls for breakfast. Those of us with kids had started bonding. Sleep loss. Sagging bodies. Vegetable refusal. Lactose intolerance and colic may have come up. We talk about regular stuff too, but our kids are a big part of our lives.
The camaraderie gives us a boost. It’s nice to know you’re not the only one going through, or who has been through, the strange and challenging early years of raising a child. Mums need support and we give it to each other.
But only about half of us at that breakfast had children. And we were exposing the rest of the girls to the inner sanctum of early parenthood. We did it often. We’ve been doing it for years.
I’d never stopped to think about the effect it was having on my non-mother friends. Whether they were single, partnered, ready to rest or not, I’m sure the rotten image we were painting was one which would stick.
So the truth had come out. We had freaked her out.
It wasn’t just this conversation. It was the build-up of every piece of information from us and so many other new mothers she’d ever heard. Her bump was growing but so was her anxiety.
Instead of rejoicing in the miracle in her womb, we’d led her to fear it.
There is a lot of focus on prenatal and postnatal depression now. I think it’s important for mothers-to-be to be informed and realistic about the mini tornado about to pass through their home. They need to know life won’t exactly reflect a Huggies commercial.
Shared information is good – important, even. But how much is too much? Are how early is too early? Should we mums just be keeping our mouths shut? Should we change our tune?
Unlike the first round of women in our social circles to have babies, the second round is fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to be heading into the future with their eyes open. They have seen us first hand with bags under our eyes, spit smeared on our clothes and wiping squished banana off – well – off pretty much everything.
So how much more do they need to know? Perhaps we should keep the most menacing details to ourselves.
What good is it to be worrying about your baby’s sleep patterns before they are even born – or conceived? Or whether they will eat well before they’ve ever used their mouth? Or, god forbid, if they will need a paediatric chiropractor’s spinal realignment?
We early birthers had the chance to rejoice over what was to come. The downside was that many of us were shocked by the hard slog that followed.
Yes, when you suddenly go from being a pregnant woman to a mother, there are lots of gripes you will have. But there is also so much glory.
The hard bits of early motherhood are so much easier because of the glorious moments with your newborn. We do talk about those too, but maybe the scary stuff sticks more because we dwell on it.
Mums of the future need to know those positive moments carry a lot of weight.
There are the smiles, the exchanged loving glances, the finger holding, the giggling and the cuddles – oh the cuddles that can change a day, a mood, an outlook on the world.
So I’m going to tell my girlfriend about those. And I’m going to keep my mouth shut about the other mildy freaky stuff when I’m around her. There is such a thing as too much information. She, like other mums of the future, deserve some confidence. They should be allowed to leap in with their eyes at least squinted a little, if not tightly shut like ours were.
Let’s reserve our hard core ‘mum-bonding’ conversations for those who’ve already been there.
And if things go pear-shaped for our friends when their bubs arrive, we can be there to listen then and wipe the banana off their shoulder.
Kate Selth is currently a ‘career woman without a career’ spending time raising her two tiny tots in beachy Perth. She tweets her views about babycinos, politics and the world here.
Fess up mums – are you guilty of freaking your non-mum friends out? And for the non-mums, have you ever been freaked out by horror stories about pregnancy or motherhood?