Even if you know about the sleepless nights, the dirty nappies, the self-doubt and constant worry, you might not know about the loneliness that comes with motherhood. After years in the workforce, surrounded by colleagues, meetings and lunch breaks, having a baby will leave you feeling very, very alone.
Sure, there's your gorgeous new baby but - spoiler alert – their small talk skills are even worse than Rodney in Accounts. In fact, they'll barely even give you a second glance for the first 6 weeks or so. Unlike Rodney. Dirty perve.
In the middle of the night when your baby is doing some roaring hiccup cry, you can't peer over the partition and ask Trish from marketing if she can take a second look for you. When you've spent days practising tummy time with your baby and they're finally lying there without bellowing at you, you won't get a pat on the back from Susan, your supervisor. Your work best friend Amanda can't debrief on your shitty day when you burst into tears because you burnt the toast. It's just you. You and google. And social media.
In those first few mystifying weeks, we tentatively reach out to other mums, trying to make connections based on nothing but your shared experience of giving birth. We trawl photos and blog posts and status updates, trying to find where we fit in this new, strange, scarily opinionated community.
What we find is not just overwhelming, it's often a severely filtered view of reality. We see happy mums and well-dressed kids in perfectly tidy homes eating freshly baked goods #cleaneating #madefromscratch while they play educational games designed to foster their imagination #livetolearn #soblessed.
For a mum who's sitting in her pjs, eating nutella on toast while her baby stares out the window, every image like can chip away at her self-confidence until she feels like not just a failure, but like something is wrong with her.
We are so afraid to admit when we're not coping (or when we're coping by watching a heap of TV and eating junk food) because someone might judge us for being a shit mum. We only show the highlight reel of our lives because we want people to tell us we're doing a good job and in 2017, we live for the approval of others.
What mums need is each other. We're the only ones who know what it's like to be us. We need to talk to each other and be open about what it's like, the good AND the bad.
Most importantly we need to say two words. Two words that give instant comfort, camaraderie and connection: me too.
Do you sometimes feel like walking out of your house and never coming back? Me too, sister!
Do you sometimes feel like you've lost a part of yourself and you're grieving the person you once were? Oh lord, me too.
Feel guilty for not being more grateful? Me tooooo.
Feel like your heart could explode with all the love inside? SO MUCH ME TOO.
Feel like you are mentally unstable sometimes with how fast you swing from that heart bursting love to pure volcanic rage? Yup! Me too.
Feel like every mofo out there is doing a better job than you and has better behaved kids? ME. TOO.
Me too. Me too. Me too. Me too.
After a day with a small child, the pressure builds and builds until your skin feels like it's going to explode. Hearing these two words is like someone reaching over and releasing the valve and letting that pressure out.
We are all in this together. We might all do things slightly differently but you'll be surprised how much we share in common. Belonging is one of the fundamental needs of human existence. Let another mum know that she belongs by telling her, me too.