Why I'm glad I didn't know what being a mum would be like

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When I was working as a doctor in a paediatric emergency department, the most common personal question parents would ask me was: "Do you have kids?"

They would ask me as I examined their child, worry painted on their faces. I shook my head, as I didn't have kids at that stage.

They didn't treat me differently after finding that out, but there was a moment, a kind of recognition, an unspoken look on their faces that seemed to say: "Then you don't know how this feels".

They cradled their sick children in their arms and I felt awful for them, but they were right. I didn't know how it felt to be a mum.

The truth is, before having kids, no one does.

Of course, I thought I had an idea. That idea was more than a little flimsy, and based on romanticised versions of parenthood, as played out on TV, movies and in the snippets in which I saw other people's children in my day-to-day life.

But snippets don't tell a full story. How could they? They're only a glimpse, a few minutes in a day otherwise brimming with emotion and activity.

But I'm so glad I didn't know what having kids would be like before I became a mum.

I'm glad I didn't know how painful labour would be, and how out of it the drugs would make me, so that when my husband would call out, "Sweetie, it's a girl," I wouldn't even react - that's how far away I was.


I'm glad I didn't know how awkward breastfeeding would be, and how, just because I knew its benefits, I wouldn't be able to simply "do it" easily.

I'm glad I didn't understand what it means to feed 'two hourly', and how those two hours are measured from the start of one feed, meaning you could be left with less than an hour between feeds.

I'm glad I didn't know how much I'd love my little girl. How that love would swamp me and toss me about, make me lose direction and rebuild my world so that every atom in my body would now be infused with this new material called 'mother'.

I'm glad that, when my first baby was still just a baby, I took that leap of faith again. I didn't know much about toddlers at that stage, nor did I know what life would be like with a baby and a toddler, but I jumped in anyway.

And I'm so glad I took that leap once more, eventually bringing our third baby into our family. I had no idea how much she was the missing part of our family until she arrived.

Even though a lot of it sounds difficult when laid out like that, I've discovered that being a mum is so much more wonderful, enriching and joyous than I could have ever imagined. It has filled my life with unimaginable love and I really feel so lucky to be a mum.

Which is why I'm so glad I had no idea what it was like to be a parent until I became one. Because if I did (and if I focused only on the 'difficulties'), I might have been too scared to take the plunge.

And more than anything, I'm so glad - no, not glad, thrilled - that I did.

Did you 'know' what it would be like to be a mum before you became one? Are you glad you did/didn't?