Seven ways motherhood can mess with your head

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 Photo: Getty Images

From day one, motherhood is full of contradictions - and oh boy, can they mess with your head.

1. The days are long but the months fly by

If you're raising small children you've probably heard the expression, "The days are long but the years are short."

When it comes to early motherhood the months are blisteringly short, too. As you capture your baby's "month days," (if you're organised enough!) you'll be amazed how quickly the time comes around, how quickly tiny limbs become delightfully chubby and your newborn disappears before your eyes.

And yet, as fast as time seems to pass, those days at home with a young bub can feel interminably long. They're the ones when the crying doesn't stop, no matter how much you bounce and pace and rock. When you're covered in vomit and aching with fatigue and the clock seems stuck on 3pm. 

Time both stalls and speeds up when you're deep in the trenches of parenthood.

2. You're often lonely, but you're never alone

Motherhood can be an incredibly lonely time. Many women go from working in an office, surrounded by colleagues, to the very different world of maternity leave, of limited adult contact and life in the isolated baby bubble.

Despite feeling lonely, however, one of the realities of motherhood is that you're so very rarely actually alone. There's always another little person (or two) nearby, crawling at your feet, curled in your arms, or breastfeeding. 

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And, as much as you love the cuddles, sometimes when you're feeling "touched out", you desperately crave space too.

3. You can be in awe of your body - and uncomfortable in your own skin

During your pregnancy you stood side-on in the mirror, admiring the curve of your bump. You watched as your body changed, as it grew to accommodate the life you carried. You learnt the language of a brand new catalogue of odd symptoms - (varicose veins "down there" anyone?)

When you give birth, you're full of awe - at what your body can do, and what it did, to bring your baby into the world. Mixed with these feelings, however, are other feelings too. 

You don't recognise this body you now inhabit - its stretch marks, loose skin and the dark linea nigra. You feel torn between pride and discomfort, wanting to love your new body – and wanting your old self back, too. It's a grief we don't speak to often enough, despite how many of us feel this way. 

4. You chant, "this too shall pass", but you don't want your babies to grow too quickly

It's 2am. You've lost count of how many times you've crawled out of bed. You can't remember when you last slept a full two hours, unbroken. "This too shall pass," you say, as you shush and shush, rock and rock. "This too shall pass." And how quickly it does.

It's bittersweet though, this wishing away of time. As much as you want the challenging moments to pass, you don't want your baby to grow too quickly, either. For you'll miss those teeny tiny fingers and teeny tiny toes - and just how small your little one was, nestled in the crook of your arm.

5. You crave nap-time, but you miss your bub

If you've ever desperately wanted your baby to nap, only to spend the time looking at photos of them on your phone, then you're not alone.

And if photos just don't cut it, you've probably snuck back in to their room, despite the risk of the floorboards creaking, just for a glimpse at that sleepy little face.

6. You can feel completely invisible, and oh-so under the spotlight

Feeling as though you've lost your identity, as though you no longer know who you are, is something many women encounter when they become mothers. It can be hard to reconcile the person you were pre-kids, with the person you are in this brand new life.

And yet, despite feeling lost and invisible at times, at other moments you can feel firmly under the spotlight, your every decision, every choice scrutinised. Whether it's a look when you're breastfeeding in the park, or a comment from a relative about using a dummy, your life is suddenly up for public discussion – and it's exhausting and demoralising.

7. When you finally have time to talk to your other half, you talk about your baby

Date nights can be few and far between when you're a parent. But what do you do when you finally score yourselves a rare opportunity for baby-free time? You spend the evening talking about all the cute, adorable, amazing, terribly advanced things your bub did that day – of course.