Help I’m Having the ‘Mumopause’

It’s all dreamy. You’re rubbing that baby bump and floating along thinking of all the wonderful days to come with your new bundle. You carefully select the coming-home outfit, the cot, the buggy, the room. Everything is perfect. You’ve read every page of every book on what to expect. How hard can it be, right?

Nothing prepares you for the arrival of a new baby. But the absolutely biggest shock for me was the moment I realised that this little person relies on me 24 hours a day for the foreseeable. I was on a high, full of joy. I got over the delivery part and actually you almost forget it fast. Almost. When all the visitors have gone (and partners too!), in the middle of that first night, you realise that you have to cater for that baby’s every need. At that time, your heart beats a little faster and that pulse in your chest never really goes away. It just gets louder or quieter but it’s always there like an inbuilt ticking clock.

That pulse is now the new speed of things to come. It races and slows in parallel to the fogginess in your head. Some days are really foggy, others slightly misty. Your body tries to adjust to the beating pulse in your chest, the fog in your head and the absolute fear in your heart that you are not doing enough or doing it right. Enter ‘motherhood guilt’ stage left!

Your regular life as you know it gets put on pause. This craziness goes on for a few years. The gears change often; every tooth, every temperature, every tumble. The accompanying guilt races along for good measure. You get lost in the everyday bends and roundabouts of motherhood. Some days, it’s all in cruise control. But one sleepless night and the whole engine falls out. But no time for a pit-stop. Oh no. You’ve got to keep moving at this frantic pace.

Your regular life as you know it gets put on pause.

They start school and all of a sudden you realise that maybe things are actually calming a little. The pulse in your chest has stabilized. I think I’ve kind of got the hang of this. The running and racing at 1000mph has slowed a little. You have time for a hot cup of coffee. He can pour his own cereal now. She can dress herself and brush her own teeth. They are starting to become a little more independent and don’t need me as much. But I’m not sure I’m ready for them being ready?

I’m confused.

Up to now, my body has been given over to carry and nourish them. My priorities and career have been rearranged to care for them. My hairstyle, clothing and footwear have also changed accordingly throughout. My brain has been preconditioned to put them first. My vocabulary has changed from the ‘go on so’ voice of my twenties to this ever so sensible and cautious ‘no, stop, hold on, mind yourself’ version. Phrases belonged to your mother keep spilling out of your mouth like ‘isn’t it grand and practical’ or ‘you’ll catch your end’.

Though the days are still full and busy, there is a sense of emptiness starting to creep in and I am wondering what my new purpose is and how I need to adjust accordingly to this new phase. Lost in yourself is the only way to describe it. Again, cue the guilt that goes along with all of these feelings. (Yes, we even get feelings about our feelings!).

So essentially we are raising them to ‘out-need’ us, so that we go back to what we were doing before we had them. So what was I doing? You start to wonder who you’ve even become and how come you don’t even recall losing track of the person you used to be. It’s all very confusing and happened so fast. Somebody needs to flick that switch and put me back to factory settings, so that I can put my brain and my body back together.

I’ve entered a new phase of life. It’s called the Mumopause. That time when you come out of the ‘Mommy fog’ after having kids and have to figure out who the hell you are and how you even got here. Time to pause, readjust and take stock of what the next step is.

How will I ever find my way back to Oz, Dorothy?