Benedicte and Anne

Name: Benedicte

Child: Anne, 14 months

Location: Manchester 

Expectations of Motherhood: Oddly enough I never really thought about what it would be like to have a baby in our lives. We prepared for Anne’s arrival, but I never really thought about what it would mean to have her around. I guess I had never really been a ‘baby’ person before Anne came along. I didn’t know very many kids and didn’t really know what they were about. Part of me also consciously resisted forming expectations.

Not having expectations was perhaps a strategy which meant I would be better able to cope with any situation. I just had this image of me as a little old woman visiting my grown-up kids and driving their partners crazy…I hope it will come true one day!

Reality of Motherhood: I completely underestimated the total upheaval involved in welcoming Anne into our lives. The first six months were tough. At first, everything revolves around baby – that’s something I had not anticipated. I liked looking after Anne, but found it hard to accept how much my life had changed; I resented how little freedom I had. 

When I began to let go of my ‘old’ life, it all became much nicer. I also started to feel more confident as a mum. By that point, I felt I knew Anne and I understood her a lot better, we shared a bond, we had a relationship.

Now, she is 14 months, it feels strange to recall these moments and write these sentences. We know each other so much better, we understand each other, we communicate and the love we share feels boundless.

Taking your child home for the first time: I remember the car journey. For some reason it felt like a huge deal to get Anne in her car seat and drive her back home. I was so focused on the car journey (!) – I don’t really remember what happened once we arrived!

The best/worst advice: The best advice was definitely ‘trust your instincts’; it helped me grow as a mum, made me more confident. 

‘Cut yourself some slack’ was another good one…though really hard to put in practice.

Worst advice: A book came highly recommended by one of our friends. It basically advised parents to abide by a strict routine from day 1. I still wonder how that’s even possible. Go with the flow is the best you can do!

The hardest parts of being a mother:
The tiredness is an obvious one, but I think it’s more the sense of commitment and responsibility that I sometimes find awesome (in all the different senses of the word!).

The best parts of being a mother: Getting to know that little person and building a relationship with her. But more than anything, the forceful experience of sheer love, this is truly special.

Has becoming a mother changed you? For me, being a parent is making a lifelong (and beyond) commitment to your child. This commitment is life changing and it impacts on my day-to-day activities, but also impacts on the long-term decisions I make. I like to think I am still the same person (albeit wiser), but a person with an unalienable commitment which informs my entire life.

Hopes for your family: 
First I hope we can all remain in good health. I also hope we are all able to pursue our individual goals whilst staying united.

What advice would you offer to new and expectant mums: Being a new mum can be a lonely experience (especially when your family is not around and your friends don’t have kids!) so try and find other expectant/new mums to share your experience with, you’ll make new friends and so will your child.  

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