I was recently browsing my Instagram and something interesting struck me. On social media I have seen several mothers say (write), that after the birth of their babies they feel ‘they have known their newborns forever’. I personally have never felt that way. I have given birth to five babies over the past thirteen years, and none of the times I have felt that I immediately ‘knew’ my babies at all!
Even now, nearly 4 months after his birth and knowing every dimple, crease and curl of Bram’s little body (and since he’s been laughing out loud I know of his ticklish spots too), I am still getting to know him. Every day, with every little milestone in his development, I learn more about who he is. It’s a bit like a flower bud opening up, slowly showing us its leaves with all of its unique colours, shapes, patterns and scent. This is how, very gradually, I get to know the person of Bram. And I know, having gone through the process a few times now, that this ‘getting to know’ will take quite some time. Months, and in some way, years even!
I have been thinking about this quite a bit lately, for I have always felt a bit silly, perhaps even inadequate, to be a mother who didn’t immediately know her babies. But the more I think about it, the more I feel there is an explanation for it.
I think that at birth there is a difference between the sense of belonging and the sense of knowing (and with that, understanding). I have felt the (overwhelming!) emotion of belonging right from the moment my babies were put into my arms. Immediately and very strongly, I felt that they DID belong with us, forever and always. And I loved them for that. Instantly.
But I didn’t know them yet. I still had years in front of me in which they would develop into unique human beings. And I would gradually understand who they are and what their needs are. And in those years of getting to know them, the love for their unique personalities would grow and compliment that love of belonging I so strongly felt in the beginning.
Once I understood this all, some things have fallen in place for me. I have accepted that apparently I am the kind of mother who has to get to know her babies. And that it is only natural that this process sometimes goes hand in hand with misunderstanding and frustration. It simply isn’t handed on a silver plate to me, this thing called motherhood.
I have accepted that I have to learn, slowly and steadily, who my baby is in order to understand him and know about his wants and needs. With every baby again! They are all unique personalities, after all.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
PS All beautiful photos by my friend Maud Fontein. Thank you Maud for capturing the moment so beautifully.
PPS Tips on regaining your sense of self after becoming a mother.
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