A few months after giving birth I asked my husband how he thought I was doing at this whole motherhood thing.
“I always knew you’d be a good mother. You’re good at everything you do, you’re such a perfectionist”.
He complimented me. He comforted me. He stroked my ego. But (me being me) I didn’t really believe him and put his kind words down to him just knowing what to say.
That’s just how my brain works: an over analytic, over critical machine that errs on the glass-half-empty philosophy. I’m working at learning how to switch off the over critical side and, instead, embrace the flaws and live in the unpredictable present. I repeat, I am trying. I’m just not there yet.
My husband, on the other hand, is 100% totally there. Heck, he’s been there so long he’s already set up camp.
As I sit with G and try to meticulously plan out the day, including planning out each variable scenario that could occur, my husband is busy actually getting on with the day.
While I fret as to what G should eat for breakfast and frantically search the fridge for “something healthy… something with carbs and protein… something she can chew but that’s not hard to swallow”, my husband has already dizzied up an omelette with whatever cheese and milk we have left. And, of course, G gobbles it up.
Whereas I would fret about taking G for a walk because “she could get sun burnt”, “she could catch a cold”, “she could get swooped by a magpie”, my husband has already locked her into the pram and is halfway out the door.
“But what about A, B or C?” I’ll usually say before he escapes outside.
His reply is always the same: “Don’t worry, we’ll be fine”.
And they are. They always are.
While torturing myself with the gazillion variables that could occur (all negative, mind you), I cheat myself out of the present. The very precious moment I’ve been gifted with my daughter is overshadowed by the what ifs of the future.
I am deeply jealous of my husband’s ability to first seek out the positive in every experience. Actually, scrap that, because there isn’t much seeking out going on. It’s almost as if his brain were set to positive by default.
He doesn’t even have to try. He just is.
I wish I knew what that felt like, you know, to not immediately jump to the worst possible conclusion with any given scenario.
Let me make something clear here: I’ve always been like this. I have high-functioning anxiety and depression. I get therapy. I take medication. I cope really fucking well. This scenario isn’t new to me. I just wish motherhood had softened that macabre Jack-in-the-box. I wish motherhood had acted as a kind of sedative to this endless narrative of negativity. But it didn’t. It hasn’t.
That said, I don’t just blame my preexisting condition (although I know it plays a mammoth part), I also blame the obscene fixation on the rise and rise of online mummy groups that masquerade as supportive communities, but are really just a cesspool of judgy negativity.
The sad thing is most of the women are there for the same reason: Just to have someone say “yes, you’re doing this right, you’re killing it”. But, instead, every question is met with a hundred different answers with most of them admonishing the mother with a faux sense of superiority.
Ironically, these very communities that are supposed to comfort new mothers make them question the most valuable aspect of motherhood: instinct. It is through that raw, primal core of our being that we can connect to our child on a level no one else in the world will ever be able to replicate.
Anyway, I know I’m still going to continue to be anxious, but the slow burn of experience is now helping me to lean on that instinct with a confidence I never knew I had.