Our co-editor Alison McEvoy write a beautiful piece for our Spring 2020 issue, on the joys and lessons of becoming a mother for the first time. We loved reading it!
What I’ve learnt from being a new mum
by Alison McEvoy
I’ve had to snatch a few minutes here and there over the past 6 hours in order to patch this article together from the array of thoughts this title evokes. That brings me to lesson number one – time.
Time is all we really have in life. Time is the container for everything. It is the most precious thing we have to spend, to give and to receive. Time is the sun that nourishes our goals in life. Whatever we give time to will grow, develop and advance. As a new mum, almost all of my time goes into my baby.
I’ve spent my time on many things before this. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in ashrams, and on courses, learning the ‘art’ of presence, being in the moment, mindfulness – whatever way you wish to phrase it. A baby teaches, no, demands, this and more. Being a mum is selfless service. It is presence and being in the moment. It is obliteration of the self with a small ‘s’. As a new mum, almost all of my energy goes into my baby.
Many who read these pages are aware of the kind of self-inquiry involved in ‘inner child work’. This is the unearthing of the roots of our discontent, our stressors, triggers and our deepest hurts…all of which tend to stem from our less than perfect childhoods in the company of our less than perfect care-givers. What I now realise is that the kind of pure, perfect and undivided attention, love and affection we all need and crave to varying degrees, is actually a gift to be able to give, as well as to receive. It is as much a mother’s dream to be able to give her all to her baby, as much as it is a child’s dream to receive this level of care. It would require a mum to have her s**t so much in order, her inner complexes resolved, her own needs fully met, her support system securely in place, her finances in order and her house clean … all in all, it’s a big ask.
I’ve learnt that many of us mothers exit the ranks of the young and able bodied individuals, for whom society caters, and enter the ranks of the vulnerable, along with our new-borns. Think about it; neither streets, nor buses, nor trains, nor cafes tend to be made with buggies and infants in mind. Baby changing units are a sorry sight in most places and nursing your baby is still a hugely isolating phenomenon. The places where you can go out and know you can feed your baby sanely and privately are ridiculously few and far between.
I’ve learned to think of my fore-mothers. The women behind my existence who brought baby upon baby into the world without any central heating, running water, pampers, buggies, google or changing tables. I am amazed by all our fore-mothers who existed generations upon generations ago.
I have, of course, learnt how much sleep I can live without, how to burp and change nappies and what this particular strain of love feels like that we call a mother’s love. It is a river of giving that starts in the heart and pours out in streams of holding, feeding, cuddling and playing that never ends until those beautiful, baby eyes drift off to sleep. Then, what feels like a long time later, my eyes are no longer open and the two of us lie dreaming together.