At an amazing gathering of inspirational mommas this afternoon thanks to Mothers Meeting, the wonderful Yvonne Fuchs asked a question that resonated with me and has bounced around my head and heart since she spoke these words: Why do we lose our confidence a little when we have kids?
While I haven’t really been able to articulate it or perhaps even recognise it, hearing Yvonne ask that question was like a slap in the face…in a good way. It was like metaphorical smelling salts under my nose and in a heartbeat I realised that I had been wandering around for the last sixteen months with my confidence dripping slowly away.
I’m no wallflower. I’m not backwards in coming forwards and I love nothing more than an audience, but we all know that outward bravado is not the same as confidence. In fact, nine times out of ten it’s a defensive mechanism to actually hide that lack in confidence.
So, the more I thought about it, the more it consumed me. Why do we lose confidence after we’ve popped out our small ones? After all, in creating a whole new human being haven’t we just created a real-life magical miracle? In giving birth to a brand new person, we have literally achieved the most astonishing thing. Shouldn’t we be strutting about and patting ourselves on the back? Instead, the experiences often leaves us feeling raw, rattled and somewhat confused and maybe this is where it comes from.
We are a generation of women who know that they can do whatever the fudge they want. There are no boundaries. We have grown up believing that we can have it all – we know it’ll be busy and bonkers and beautifully exhausting – but we can do it. We are the first generation taking back our independence as mothers and sharing it out more equally amongst our partners. This is a great thing – but it might just be setting us up for a shock when it comes to motherhood.
You see, becoming a mother for the first time is shocking. It doesn’t matter how much you prepare, how many books you read, how many conversations you have with other mothers…there is no way of fully preparing yourself for what you are about to undergo. The transformation, the morphing from the old you in the new, reborn mothering you is as painful and traumatic and exhausting as it must necessarily be.
As empowered women we are used to facing challenges, to overcoming obstacles but motherhood isn’t something to be overcome or faced. Motherhood is, in the nicest possible way, an infectious virus that you have to let in, that you have to surrender to. It’ll change you from the inside out and all you can do is accept it and embrace it. Motherhood isn’t something to beat or learn or conquer – it’s not like your career, or your goals, or your dreams…it’s bigger than you, more powerful than you and it will beat you.
And so it should but this doesn’t mean that we feel good about it at first. At first we can feel violated, trapped, insecure in our new role. We can feel powerless in the face of this new reality that has muscled its way in and settled down with its feet up. It’s not going anywhere and, for the first time in the millennial woman’s life, you will be rendered powerless in the face of it.
So maybe it’s this…this shocking hijacking of our lives and souls and hearts that happens so instantly and without our permission that initially knocks our confidence. Perhaps it’s this that makes us feel that we’re not as empowered as we thought we were. Who knows?
What I do know is that this should only be a temporary state. You’ll find your feet – you’ll happily sink into your new reality as a wife, worker and momma. It’ll all settle into a new you who you may not like at first, but who, with some time and tenacity will turn out to be the biggest love of your life yet.