We expect ourselves to mother
Without stumbling
To fall in love instantly
To instinctively know
What our babies need.

But the truth is our babies are
Little strangers
From the off
Never the ideal babies
We have carried in our minds
And hearts.

And to mother
We must allow ourselves to learn
To fail
To grieve
To meet our babies
Where we least know or understand
Or ourselves.

Staying close
Love-laden efforting
To understand
And put words to
The earliest vocalisations
Ensures the warp and weft
Of neural pathways
Are laid down

To mother is
To become familiar with
And less fearful
Of this not-knowing
So that in gentle repetition
Of our sometimes synchronous dance
We are strangers no more.

Julianne Boutaleb

Consultant Perinatal PsychologistDirector of Parenthood In Mind Consultancy

London Hub Lead to December 2022

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