When it comes to mothering new babies, well-meaning advice can come in all forms – both the crazy and the sensible. So it’s a lovely relief when you can get your hands on a treasure trove of common sense information.
Much-loved writer, Maggie Groff has condensed her hard-won mothering wisdom into a single delightful book, Mrs Groff’s Mischievous Book of Motherhood Management that’s a must-read for all the frazzled multi-tasking mothers amongst us.
Here are some of our favourite bits:
The inconceivable truth
It is an extraordinary thing when someone you have never met before comes out of your body. It changes you completely. In that unforgettable moment of miraculous life, every woman instantly becomes vital, strong and fiercely protective. Her carefree, halcyon days of independence are over and she is now living for two people, one of whom is definitely in charge, and it isn’t her.
At first, the new mother is shocked beyond belief and totally bewildered that her life is no longer her own. And she is completely unprepared for the overwhelming presence of her newfound maternal instinct, which is as powerful and drawing as gravity itself.
Women older and wiser have whispered to her that motherhood is the most challenging and most rewarding thing she will ever do, and that its life-affirming teachings have no parallel. And in that self-assured way of hers she had laughed, certain her previous challenges and achievements were higher, bigger, better. She had worked in New York and married in Venice. Climbed to base camp at Everest and canoed the Irrawaddy. Even hiked the Milford Track. She is certain the old ideas are no longer relevant to her global generation. She does not heed such antiquated thoughts about motherhood. But she does not know that those whispers have been passed down to every mother since Ancient Babylon. And for good reason. Because they are true.
In the euphoric early days she wonders why nobody mentioned that having a baby was like a wildly passionate love affair, unrelenting in its continuous power over her emotions. Or that when her child looks into her eyes, the outpouring of love and sensation of pure happiness is so strong it’s tangible, and the high is so magnificent it is indescribable.
And then later, between daily labours of love and the seemingly endless grind of sleepless nights, the new mother secretly worries about everything, especially how she will cope. She is unaware that Mother Nature has her back, and that thousands of years of evolution have readied her mind and body for this experience by giving her incredible strength, intuition and capability, all of which will be there as and when she needs them. For the rest of her life.
Motherhood is nature at her best. And the wonders and rewards are like nothing else. You’ll see.
Was your baby on time?
A human mother’s delivery date is calculated early in her pregnancy. It is assumed that women have twenty-eight-day menstrual cycles and ovulation occurs fourteen days into this cycle.
Your due date is the first day of your last menstrual period plus 280 days (forty weeks). As pregnancy occurs during ovulation, if you subtract the fourteen days from the total, this gives you 266 days (thirty-eight weeks), which is roughly the average human gestation.
However, according to some figures, only around 5 per cent of babies arrive on their due date. As we know.
Raspberries to a new baby routine
You will receive plenty of free advice from well-meaning people to quickly establish a new baby in a routine, but ask yourself this: how can a living being who is growing and changing their cellular makeup at the speed of sound possibly have a routine? So don’t panic – save the routine for later, when you have settled into motherhood.
Honestly, for most mothers with a new baby, the fact that Wednesday and Thursday follow Monday and Tuesday is as close to routine as they’ll get.
Don’t expect your newborn baby to do exactly what the experts tell you. I was told that a newborn baby will sleep for twenty hours out of twenty-four. I am still looking for that baby.
7 sterling tips from super-savvy mothers
- If you’re lucky enough to have her around, listen to your own mother’s advice. Then do what you want.
- Be lenient with your personal expectations. We are all amateurs when we sign up for first-time motherhood.
- Don’t waste this precious time trying to regiment your baby. Take things easy, and fit in with your baby’s needs for a while until you have both found the middle ground.
- You must be the mother you want to be. You are not performing for the approval of others.
- Accept all help that is offered. And offer help when it is needed by other parents.
- Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie down, and never tell anyone you are doing either. Because if they see you, they will ask you to do something.
- Enjoy your babies and children (in case no one else does).
2 things you might as well accept now
- Your lazy days at the beach are over. You are now on full alert at the beach (and the swimming pool) for the next twelve years.
- You will have white stains on the shoulders of all your clothes for at least two years.
No matter how hard you try not to, you will turn into your own mother.
This is an edited extract from Mrs Groff’s Mischievous Book of Motherhood Management by Maggie Groff published by Penguin Random House RRP: $24.99