“I never had a desire to have children,” says Brigiet. “Until I met my current husband when I was thirty. A year and a half later I was pregnant.” When her oldest daughter was born, now 13 years ago, Brigiet only noticed how big a child’s impact on your daily life is. “The spontaneity was gone. Just going to town or going to the hairdresser was no longer possible. Then I had to think about what to do with my daughter. I also changed emotionally: I whimpered when I watched the news and suddenly I dared to stop driving. I felt so vulnerable. “
Talk about the difficult sides
Brigiet already knew some people who had a child: a few friends who lived further away were already mothers, and her sister gave birth to the first nine months before her. But talking about the tricky sides of parenting, the things that are not fun about it? They did not. Also Brigiet herself, when she just had a child. “I found that difficult, did not want to admit that I was struggling with things. I felt that it made me a less good mother.”
It is that taboo that maintains the situation, says mental health psychologist and owner of Psyche and Pregnancy Merith Cohen de Lara. Cohen de Lara sees “certainly monthly” women who seek help because they are caught by the changes that come with having a child. “They think they are a bad mother, because they don’t just like it. And they are so ashamed of that that they need psychological help. If more women would honestly say that it is sometimes very tough and they sometimes unhappy, a fair amount of the clients we have now shouldn’t be joining us. Once we convince them there is nothing wrong with them, a real burden falls off them. “
Get used to motherhood
Laurinda Griekspoor would also like to throw open the taboo. Griekspoor is the owner of a maternity care agency House of Care in the Haarlem region, author of the book De Baby Bijsluiter and herself mother of two children aged 16 and 21. According to her, at least half of the women should get used to motherhood, and it is very logical that you should not be there during pregnancy fully prepared for.
“Everything changes when you have a child,” she says. “The relationship with your partner, with yourself, your daily rhythm, you suddenly find other things important … Really everything. It is perhaps the biggest change that a woman experiences in her life. With every other change we say: of course someone has to get used to it A new job, a new school … Why shouldn’t you get used to this? “
Can’t make a performance
She compares it to the situation we are in now with the corona virus. “Did you know a few months ago how it would feel, for example, to have to keep 1.5 meters away from everyone, not to be able to go to the supermarket with too many people and not to go to work? Even though it was talked about because in other countries already happened, it’s something you’ve never experienced before, so you couldn’t imagine it, it’s the same with motherhood.
Almost every woman, and probably every generation, has to get used to this, say Griekspoor and Cohen de Lara. Our mothers had to, and so did our grandmothers. Because also for them a lot changed in their lives, many of them – whether or not obliged – to stop working, for example, as soon as children came.
Must find great
What’s new is that we all seem to just love it. “With our grandmothers and mothers, having a child was just part of life, they thought much less about it,” says Griekspoor. “They could just say to someone else, ‘I don’t remember, can you help?’ That now seems not done. ” Cohen de Lara: “Now everything has to be so makeable: you consciously choose to have a child, so you should always like it. Otherwise you should not have chosen it. But that is absurd, of course.”
It is also what is most shared on social media: happy children in beautiful clothes, mother clean and in make-up. “Those photos really need to be taken in the right nanosecond,” says Brigiet. “Then Olvarit goes over the table or spits the baby on your blouse.” Cohen de Lara: “And if a photo is placed of a disheveled mother, then she will be perfectly tousled again. Where are the pictures of normal mothers?”
Farola, mother of three children, also notices that the image on social media is often only positive and that you are also expected to be a mother. “I try to be very open and honest about motherhood, but when I put on social media that I don’t like something, people say: you should be happy that you have children.” She is, she says. But those things can go very well together.
It is exactly what Cohen de Lara teaches women who come to her because they feel like a bad mother. “Just because you love your child and would do anything about it doesn’t mean you like crying at 3:30 AM, bingeing or not meeting friends because you don’t have a nanny. You really have to see those things separately. “
Living with a baby
Farola was 26 when she had her first child. She then had one friend who already had a child, but she always took that “under the arm”. So for her having a child, not much had changed in Farola’s eyes. Also, no one had told her what it’s really like to have a child. “When I was pregnant, people told about their delivery in aromas and colors. But nobody told what life is like with a baby. ”
A lot changed for Farola. “I was really shocked. My whole world suddenly revolved around the baby. When I could sleep, do my housekeeping … I had never seen that coming. It made me lonely, I had not seen that coming I always went by train to friends who lived further away, but how should I do that with breastfeeding, for example? “
It is mainly an issue for highly educated women, Farola sees, who is now using her experience as a postpartum doula. And Griekspoor also sees that in her practice: “They think they should do everything perfectly and keep all balls high. Someone who is less educated often has a child at a younger age and has less expectations of motherhood.” Farola: “Highly educated women are so busy with the mental development of a child, what a child should do, what you should do as a parent to get that child on the way, which is safe,”. ” My mom used to say, I just did what I thought was right. But now we have the idea that we should be perfect parents. Added to this is the pressure from friends who give a lot of unsolicited advice. “You don’t do that, do you?” “You do that, don’t you?” They don’t ask what you need, but think they know better. And you have to struggle through that jungle of conflicting advice, while you don’t know it yet. “
All four women advise new mothers to give yourself time to get used to your child, to accept that you are not doing everything right and, above all, to know that it is part and that every difficult situation will pass. Griekspoor: “Suddenly you have another person who is totally dependent on you. You do not yet know why it cries or why it is quiet, what it likes and what it does not. And you cannot know that, because you know not yet. “
“It took me years to think: now I have it under control,” says Brigiet, now mother of three daughters. Now that she does talk to others about it, she thinks 90 percent of moms sometimes like it spicy or dislike it. “I just went for a walk with a friend who also has children. She talked about her motherhood blunders. So nice to be able to share that. Fortunately, I think. It’s not me and it doesn’t make me a bad mother. “