I can distinctly remember a good friend of mine telling me about hypno-birthing when I was pregnant. She’d used the technique and swore by it helping to keep her calm. She even loaned me her book, which I dutifully read, fascinated by the idea of being able to be pretty much Zen and high on my own endorphins enough to push the baby out without much fuss.
I remember reading the pages, as though I was searching for the Holy Grail, as if one key phrase or page held the hallowed answer to a stress-free birth.
Alas, the more I read, the more I knew that for me it may as well be a bunch of hooey that would never work, because you see I will just never, ever be one of those Zen mammies.
In labour, I held it together until 10 cms and then I became a screamer.
In life, I am one of the world’s great worriers with a serving of anxious on the side. I’ve always been that way and motherhood hasn’t really changed that. I’m forever on the go like some kind of perpetually wound energiser bunny who lives and dies by her routine.
I’m not a ‘just-go-with-it’ sort of person who can wing it and see how things pan out… generally speaking I need a plan, otherwise I’m in drama land.
I’m the mum with panda eyes and a messy bun. I’m the barely holding it together mum, who forgets the wipes and has to improvise with some old raggedy blue napkin that’s been under the back seat for months. I’m the mum with encrusted porridge on my jeans and an overflowing swear jar. Someone would never say I was a natural mum.
Some days that bothers me. Some days when I see all the other Zen mummies out there with their nice hair and calm demeanour, who seem to be able to float on chaos without it getting to them, I feel myself sink a little. I berate myself and tell myself I really am that shit mum I don’t want to be.
Why can’t I be the mum who doesn’t let things worry her, get to her, or bring her down? Why can’t I be that calm-exterior mum, navigating all of the challenges motherhood throws at them? Why can’t I just suck it up, deal with it and be a steady ship on stormy waters… Why am I one of those Castaway style rafts, rickety, falling apart and about three minutes away from coming undone and sinking in the waves?
And then the other day I had an epiphany. I was out with my son at a local house and gardens. We were queuing to get some coffee and cake and he was being the model toddler. Happy, jabbering away and pointing at things. There was a woman behind me in the queue, who I’d seen there before, we nodded in mutual acknowledgement. Any time I’d seen her and her brood at the sandpit, I would be a little envious of how perfect it all seemed. Her kids would play quietly and then come over to her and eat hummus and veg sticks, while I would have to tempt my son with Liga and smarties to even follow me.
But today her face was flushed and she was in a lather as her three kids played up. Crying, moaning, hanging out of her and complaining. She was clearly finding it tough and yet behind her people started to tut-tut and I suddenly realised that to an outsider, I now looked like the Zen mum in this scenario!
To them, I looked like the model of ‘mammy perfection’ (minus the good hair) with the well behaved child, as I sipped a latte and projected general ‘mammy-amazingness’… meanwhile, this poor woman looked the opposite!
I looked at her and flashed her the biggest warming smile and kind eyes I could and realised that despite what we like to think, there is no such thing as a ‘Zen’ mum...
None of us have this ‘mammying-thing’ figured out, we all lose our shit now and then. One minute we may look like we’re acing it, but the next is just as likely to feature us covered in baby sick, or dealing with an on-the-floor style tantrum over the wrong colour sippy cup and us wanting to hang up our mum badge and resign.
So maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself all the time? Maybe there are times I am a bit Zen without myself even knowing it?
Either way, I think when mums support each other, amazing things happen.