Giving birth might happen overnight – but transitioning into motherhood takes time. Becoming a mother is a process, and it’s guaranteed to turn your life upside down. Antoniya shares her experience with us.
Transitioning into motherhood wasn’t easy. In the antenatal classes they talk about the physical changes and that your life will change; but nobody really talks about what the change is, and how it’s going to be. Nobody tells you that. And I don’t think a person who’s not a mother yet can actually get it. I think it’s very difficult to comprehend before you’re a mother.
You don’t know it until you’ve experienced it
Looking back, my expectations were childish and naïve, because I wasn’t a mum yet. They weren’t realistic or practical; they were more like dreams than expectations.
I realised you don’t know anything about motherhood until you’ve experienced it. People ask me sometimes how it is being a mum, and I just say “you can’t explain that”. You can talk about it, but you can’t explain in a way that they would really understand it.
You discover motherhood bit by bit
I think motherhood is like a flower that’s opening a little bit more with each day. You discover it bit by bit.
It was quite difficult to figure out not only how to live life as the mum of twin boys, but also as a regular person who happens to be a mother. It took me a long time to realise that I can still live my life – but it is now entangled with the lives of my children. My life is not only about doing things for them, but in a way our lives are entangled and everything happens at the same time – my life and theirs.
With time their lives will be more distinct from mine. At the moment they’re still babies and I take care of everything; but with time it will be more and more distinct, and instead of this entanglement the lines will just be crossing and crossing at points.
Find a balance
It took me quite a while to get to this point, maybe three-four months to actually start to believe that although life is not going to be as it was before, it can still be the way I want it. It’s not only ruled by the needs of my kids but I can also include my own needs. And I have to find a balance and start to really recognise what my own needs are.
This took me the help of family and friends. When I talked to them about my feelings of confusion for example, they gave me advice and support, and told me how I can open my mind and my heart to these changes. So again, family, friends, and community is very important.
Lately I’ve been reading a lot about this village-idea, how children were taken care of not only by the mother and father, but the whole village. We used to have grandmothers and great-grandmothers to help first-time mums into this new role; but they’re not around as much anymore. Now you’re supposed to do it single-handedly – which is not natural and not healthy for anyone.
Finding a balance between your life and your children’s life, and finding who you are again – this is a thing we have to do every day. It’s very easy to slip into only thinking about them and taking care of them, and forgetting about our own needs; but if you don’t put yourself first at some point every day, intentionally, then you slip into this bad habit. I think of it as a bad habit.
Don’t give up the things you enjoy
It’s important for you to be aware that you need to take care of yourself every day, do something that is “me” and stay in that zone. It’s important to remind yourself, because it’s not going to happen naturally; at least for me it doesn’t happen naturally.
Because of our female nurturing nature we prioritise the kids and forget to nurture ourselves. I have to remind myself every day to go and do some yoga for example, because I’ll feel better about myself, better about my life. Instead of cooking another meal or cleaning or doing something else for my kids, I need to do this for myself. If there is one piece of advice I would give to myself, it’s to continue to remind myself every day to do that.
It is a conscious effort. If I want to go somewhere and see something but I have another job to do I tell myself “no, I have to go” and I have to make time for it. I’m not going to give up on things that interest me. I don’t like the person I become when I rob myself of experiences.
I used to run an etsy community, and although I don’t work full time now I still do little bits here and there. It helps me stay current and active, and meet new people. It’s a bit different from the everyday jobs of looking after the kids, it’s varied.
Focus on the little things
I do less creative work these days; sometimes I draw or make mandalas, but not as much as before. Having the time and peace to create something from start to finish is not really possible right now. But if creativity is part of your life, then this is also self-care – and you have to make time for it for yourself.
I try to keep my creativity alive with small things: making small drawings, creating something little, cooking a new meal. Something that’s little but still keeps my creativity alive because I know that one day I will have my time again. I will be back to it. But now I need these little things in my life. Instead of thinking in big projects and saying “I don’t have time, I can’t do it” I focus on small things to keep my creativity alive.
It’s important to find opportunities to bring in small pieces of consciously you and who you are; every day. And most importantly you have to give yourself time. A lot of time. Time to find the balance in between who you are in motherhood and who you are yourself. It takes time, and it’s different for everyone.
You shouldn’t push yourself to be perfect in any role – just give yourself time to feel comfortable again. Do the things that make you happy.
Thank you Antoniya for sharing your story with us ♥