parent opinion

If you have a new mum in your life, Mother’s Day is hers.

I was not even four months into parenthood when I celebrated my very first Mother's Day. 

It felt weird. Suddenly, a day that had been about recognising one of my favourite humans was about me too.

Suddenly, I was waking up to breakfast in bed and a bunch of flowers, weary but grateful after a night of constant wakes.

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I could still feel my episiotomy stitches and my broken tailbone as I propped myself up to enjoy the coffee made by my husband. 

But then three sips in, my son started fussing, my boobs started dripping, and all got abandoned for a morning feed followed by a poo explosion followed by a little vomit (his, not mine), down both of our shirts.


I was only a few hours into Mother's Day when something crystallised for me. Of course mothers in all their forms should be celebrated today. But if there's a new mum in your orbit — Mother's Day should be about her. 

Never is a woman more selfless than in the first year of her child's life. Her sleep, her nutrition, her comfort; everything comes second to her child. Her world is upended in a way that her partner's is not. Her entire existence is rocked on its foundation in a way that is both incredible and overwhelming all at the same time. 

You can imagine the sleep deprivation, but until you're waking with a newborn baby, it's impossible to actually articulate. Somehow your body just does it, even though it hurts.

The worry is all-consuming. Are they sleeping enough? Are they eating enough? Is that normal? Are they pooing enough? Are they happy? Do they love me? The questions in your head (some of them slightly unhinged) are endless as you get to know your child.

They say the transition to motherhood is called 'matrescence.' Like adolescence, it's a transitionary period where your hormones, emotions, body and even perspective on life shift forever. Except matrescence isn't a gradual evolution like its teenage counterpart — it hits you like a freight train all at once.

After graduating from the newborn phase, I remember replying to people's questions of 'how did you find it?' with a confused and fumbled mixture of "I love him beyond words" but... "I found it kind of shocking".


My first Mother's Day, my son had only just 'graduated' from being a newborn.

I had never, physically, experienced something as monumental and body altering as birth. It was an intense shock to the system when I realised rest and recovery were going to be near impossible given it was my body that also had to sustain the new perfect little being I had just birthed.


Breastfeeding took some getting used to. My body was bleeding and leaking and swelling and deflating all at once. My hormones were like nothing I had ever experienced. The primal feelings of love, and the intense protective scream my head would do when I would hand my baby to anyone else, made me feel a little insane. Even when I was surrounded by people, I felt weirdly alone with in my postpartum comedown.

Unexpectedly, I really needed my first Mother's Day. My partner was wonderful during birth and in the days, weeks and months that followed, but when you're the one that has given birth, there's only so much they can do. I am yet to meet a new mum who hasn't at least had a twinge of resentment towards their other half as they watch their entire world change while their partner's remains largely intact.

So having one specific moment to actually reflect on what it meant to be a mother, and to be a little spoilt, was a welcome treat while deep in the trenches of brand new motherhood.

Understandably, the focus for visitors is the baby. As a new mum, watching other people coo and ahh over your child makes you feel super proud. To you, your baby is perfect, so watching other people reflect that back is magic. But when well-meaning guests offer to hold the baby, feed the baby, change the baby... it's not actually that helpful at all. 


I get it. Cleaning my bathroom, unpacking my dishwasher or making me a coffee isn't nearly as cute and cuddly.

But I often found myself silently thinking, 'hold the mother, not the baby' as I looked around my messy, unkempt house. In that moment I vowed to never turn up to a new mum's door without caffeine, a treat or an offer of service. Because when others offered that to me, I felt seen and heard in exactly the right way.

On my second Mother's Day, I feel less unmoored. Less shocked. A (tiny bit) less tired. With every month I have regained a bit more independence. My body feels like mine again and I feel much more confident in my mothering.

I am still very much in the thick of it with a 15-month-old, so I am looking forward to enjoying my breakfast in bed and a little treat this Mother's Day.

But it's nothing compared to that first year. 

This year for Mother's Day, I am a toddler mum.


So today I pass the baton to the new mums — the women in the midst of a whole new beginning.

If you have a new mum in your life, throw everything at today. Buy the flowers, make the food, organise the outing, clean the house, organise the gift for her mother for her. Do what you have to do to make her smile.

I'd argue that today is more about her than the mothers who've seen dozens or decades of this day already. For her, this is brand new in the most wild and wonderful way.

She's tired and (likely) overwhelmed, and still trying to figure it all out. 

She needs this. She needs today.

Feature image: Supplied/Gemma Bath.

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