Joys of new motherhood

Mom, look I'm telling you 2

photo by Susan Kauffmann

Today women are talking openly on CBC radio about feeling overwhelmed and exhausted as new moms. They’re also speaking of isolation and boredom. We didn’t dare say so when I was young, but it was real for me. They’re now suggesting an app to help moms find others in the same boat living nearby. Maybe, but that wouldn’t have helped me.

When I became a mom, I’d been working at an interesting, challenging job. We were ‘expected’ to leave when pregnant. I did. What a shock awaited me — no one told me how tough it was to be a mom, or how much I’d miss adult conversation.

If baby slept, I was afraid she was dead, if she cried, I knew there was something terribly wrong. I fed, changed, checked and bathed her, and washed diapers. (Disposable diapers didn’t exist) I was exhausted, but the worst of it was — babies aren’t great conversationalists.

My husband suggested I attend a ‘Coffee Klatch’ some of the young mothers in our circle attended. I was desperate. I tried and failed miserably. In those days doctors didn’t encourage breastfeeding, so I diligently packed bottles of formula, diapers, bibs, extra baby clothing, and goodness knows what else — 15 pounds of stuff, 10 pounds of baby. I lugged baby in her carrier and everything else out to my car and off we went. (My children would have a heart attack at the lack of safety available at the time for transporting infants in cars.)

None of us were homeowners. Apartment buildings in L.A. often came with buzzers outside, where your mail was left. Seeing some right there, after buzzing, I carried it in.

“Oh, no!’ our friend cried ‘Jeffrey doesn’t like me to pick up the mail.’

Jeffrey was one of those brilliant men who marry simple women. (That’s interesting in itself.) He didn’t like her to pick up the mail?? He didn’t TRUST her to pick up the mail. She ran outside to replace it immediately. (I could never forget that?)

 

group moms:babies

Looking for a giant headache?

Looking for a giant headache? Try four mothers having coffee

crying baby

If mine was quiet, another screamed

accompanied by four infants. Migraine guaranteed. When my hellion on wheels was quiet, another screamed and/or required attention. When mine wailed and set off a storm of crying, I felt guilty. It’s not rational, but when have I ever been rational?

Following the conversation over the constant noise was beyond me. I missed much which was no great loss. What did they talk about? The best way to wash diapers and how to make spaghetti sauce (the use of the word ‘pasta’ came later). Surprise, surprise. It was the last ‘coffee klatch’ I attended.

I couldn’t take a class because we couldn’t afford a babysitter. What to do? I needed something or I’d go mad. I called the accountant who worked for my former boss, asked if he’d help me find a part-time job. He did. It wasn’t the most delightful of environments, being a locked facility for people with dementia, but I dressed like a real person and went to work two days a week and earned enough for the baby-sitter.

A plus: I learned patience and understanding. I even smiled and thanked the resident who carefully placed her urine sample next to my sandwich on my lunch tray. She was part of what saved MY sanity.

Have you seen my scarf?

She helped save my sanity

We are all different and have different needs. If meeting with other young moms and babies is for you, more power to you. However, be aware it doesn’t make you a terrible mother if you find, as I did, you need time away from your little one.

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8 thoughts on “Joys of new motherhood

  1. There is a comedy show called “Catastrophe” on Amazon in which an intelligent Irish women ends up pregnant by mistake and has the baby, the accidental father also wanting to be (and very much being in) the picture. There are many funny moments around the fact that she is DYING to get back to her job, even wanting to cut short her paid maternity leave. Also some fun stuff about her doing exactly what you tried to do — hanging out with a group of mothers and their babies. She can’t stand it, and renames the mommies “Mombies”…after the word “zombies”. I think you would relate to that show, Mom!

  2. Ha Ha – sounds apropos, Susan!
    Muriel – nice to hear how you felt about motherhood – I’m sure many young Mom’s feel better upon hearing such things… Its nice how we get much more open as we age – I feel like I can be much less careful about what I say – and try to say things to put people at ease by showing my own foibles and fears!

  3. Oh, Muriel, truer words were never spoken! If only more new moms could read this, and find out with great relief that they are not alone in feeling so overwhelmed with their new life! It was the initial isolation that got to me more than anything. And you experienced the same thing. I’m hoping that things have changed for the better for new mothers, but I wonder! This topic is so important, and there must be many groups and also online sites available to help, at least I hope so!

    • Yes, especially the way we transported kids. My son Rafi walked home for miles carrying my precious grandson rather than take him in a cab without proper protective seating. Things have certainly changed — and in that way, much for the better. Thanks for reading, Muriel

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