By Riannah Roach, Mother & Villagehood Blog Volunteer
"We all have it in us to move from struggle to grace"
- Arianna Huffington
I always knew I wanted to be a mum, but I never really imagined how drastically my life would change when I became a mum and how difficult and lonely it would be, particularly at the start.
I was 34 years old when I had Spencer, my firstborn. That's geriatric according to the medical world. Having ticked most things off my bucket list to date, having a baby was the natural progression in my life, even though I'm not sure if I ever felt truly ready.
Does anyone ever feel ready to be a parent?
When Spencer was born, I didn't feel the instant connection that you often hear or read about. Yes, I loved him, but not like I thought I would. I remember looking at him, this tiny scrunched-up little baby, and wondering who he was. He had these big eyes that seemed to never close, just looking back at me with wonder - like I was his world. He didn't make it easy for me either, refusing to sleep for more than short periods of time both day and night.
Coming home from the hospital was a weird experience. We left as a family of two and came home as a family of three. There were so many questions rushing around in my head. What was I meant to do now? How do I know when to feed him? When will he sleep? How do I soothe him?
It seemed like the biggest job I had ever had, being a mum, came with no instruction manual. I had zero confidence in myself as a new mum.
After paternity leave finished and Spencer's Dad returned to work, I was relieved to begin to find a routine. But at the same time, I was angry... Why did he get to go back to work and leave me chained to the baby? The word chained is interesting and it reveals a lot about my state of mind at the time.
I cried every night for the first three months of Spencer's life.
I'd cry when he cried, I cried when he woke, I cried when he didn't go back to sleep after a feed, and I cried because his Dad was sleeping soundly next to me unaware of the turmoil I was experiencing.
I cried the most though, for the person that I used to be. She was gone. Nowhere to be found. No one warned me I would have to say goodbye to that version of me. I mourned for her in those first few months and even wondered why I had chosen to 'ruin my life' by having a baby.
Harsh, I know, but it was the raw truth about my introduction to motherhood, and I know I'm not alone in this experience.
We are led to believe that everything about becoming a mum is magical. That every woman has an instant connection with her baby. That every woman loves every bit of their life as a mother. That it's easy. And that we instinctively know what to do to care for our baby and our body knows what to do.
But I truly believe we need to be more open about the struggles of mum life. I believe we need to move back towards the village mentality when it comes to raising children.
It takes a village to raise a child.
I was lucky to have my mum support me during my journey into motherhood. I honestly don't know what would have happened if she hadn't been there. But some of us don't have a village, in the form of family or friends, to support us. And that's where organisations such as Villagehood Australia can assist.
Today, as the Blog Volunteer for Villagehood Australia, I am humbled and grateful to be able to offer support and guidance to mothers and expecting mothers in our community by sharing their stories. As mothers, we all face unique challenges and experiences, but by sharing our stories, we can create a sense of community and solidarity.
I strongly believe that storytelling is a powerful tool for positive change. By amplifying the voices of mothers, we can create a space for empathy, understanding, and connection. Every story has the potential to inspire, educate, and empower, and I am dedicated to ensuring that every mother's story is heard and valued.
Your story is your voice, and your voice is our voice.
We cannot create change if we do not know what needs changing. By sharing your experiences, you have the power to impact the lives of other mothers in our community and beyond. So, to all the mothers out there, I invite you to share your stories with me. Together, we can create a more supportive and uplifting world for mothers everywhere.
If you would like to share your story too, please connect with the Villagehood team.
To learn more about Villagehood Australia and the programs we offer, please check our website www.villagehoodaustralia.com.
Villagehood Australia is a registered charity with the ACNC and is endorsed as Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR). You can donate to the charity here.