I'm a mum but...
Updated: Apr 14, 2018
Whilst having a ponder over what subjects to write about in this blog, I've realised that there's a recurring desire within me to confess all manner of thoughts or foibles. Now I don't actually think that all of them should be spoken out loud (there's no need for everything to be told after all) but it's made me think about the temptation to keep some of my 'parent moments' to myself.
You know what I mean, those times when something happens with your kids or you do something as a parent that you just don't think you can talk about without someone doubting your capacity to be a 'good parent'. Like the fact that I can lose my shit while trying to get the kids out of the door in the morning, or that I don't always feel capable of helping my kids with their homework. Or even the fact that our, still nightly and lovely, 'cuddle time' on the sofa actually started off, when they were really little, as me just wanting to grab a few minutes shut-eye while they were occupied. Not terrible but not a particularly proud mum moment either!
Do you know what I mean?? I think you do but I also think there's a tendency to not let on about those kind of 'winging it' moments.
I'm going to have one of my confessional moments at this point and admit that I've felt like I don't have a flipping clue about this parenting malarkey from day 1. And I mean from when I left the hospital. I can remember me and my partner deciding it was time to leave the hospital - it was about 5pm, I'd had no complications with the birth at 9am that morning, my daughter was fine and I'd managed to feed her, my partner had already been back home to pick up the car seat we'd forgotten in our 6am panic to get to the hospital, I hadn't had any sleep since waking up at 1am with contractions and quite honestly I just wanted to be at home. My baby and I were ready to go but when we got out to the nurse's station to leave, there was nobody there - could we just go? Nobody knew I was taking my baby, didn't I have to sign out or something? Shouldn't somebody be taking responsibility for letting me out into the world with an actual real live baby??
Apparently not. Apparently, people just expected me to get on with it. I got her home, had a bath, we all got ready for bed and...she wouldn't sleep. I mean she would, in my arms, just not by herself in her crib. My partner was exhausted after a long day of watching me give birth and quickly fell asleep (gee thanks) but I couldn't put my baby down so that I could sleep because she'd start crying. I can remember sitting on the edge of my bed, crying with exhaustion and frustration, and thinking 'what the HELL do I do??'. And that's pretty much been me ever since.
OK maybe the tears and exhaustion aren't quite so regular any more, I'm ten years into this after all, but that feeling of 'how the hell am I supposed to know??' is definitely still there.
A few weeks ago I wrote a post called Being Goodenough where I talked about the 'Good Enough Mother' concept of letting mothers follow their instincts and not be perfect in order to allow their children to follow necessary developmental stages. But what do you do when you don't have any instincts? Is it OK to admit that I never wanted to be a mum?
I always felt that my lack of interest in having a child, and inability to coo over anyone else's, set me apart from other women. After all, that's what we all want right? Well, I never did. Until I met the person who turned out to be the father of my children, I was damn sure that I wasn't going to get married (an outdated, religious institution that symbolized woman's submission to man and prevented her from living freely - ugh) and I definitely wasn't going to have kids.
Ha! Joke's on me. Would you look at that face - does she look like she knows what she's doing? Does she look like she even knows what day of the week it is??
Well no, she did not. She muddled through those early years, sleepless nights, exhausting days and scary, confusing, frustrating (and yes, happy at times!) moments that have made up my motherhood so far. And you know what, I don't mind admitting that's what it's been like for me. Because see, here's the thing, we all have those moments. And it's mainly because, despite being parents, we're still humans. We're actually just normal, everyday humans who don't necessarily do things by the rulebook (which ever one you choose to look at) and don't do things perfectly. The funny thing is that we all probably feel guilty AF about it (because, you know, parent) and consequently don't say anything to all the other parents. And then we all feel like we're the only ones. Irony huh?
So many of the times that I've ended up talking to another mum about something difficult that one or other of us is experiencing, it's resulted in both of us having that wonderful 'it's not just me!' feeling. Because of course it's not, it's just that you don't usually talk about it. So, for the sake of all you other parents (and not just cause I like to over share), I'm breaking my silence. And if you're having a difficult parenting moment (day, week, month!), rest assured that there's at least one other person here who understands how you're feeling.
Thanks for reading.