Let me be completely honest; sometimes being Mummy can be a little bit shit, especially on the days that involve cleaning up plenty of shit from a wide variety of surfaces and materials. I’m not saying that being a Mum is totally shit. I do think that being Dad however, might be a better option. On very dark days you might find a little bit of shit in your hair or smeared across your forehead. Pooh aside though, because dealing with that is one thing, being mum is something I’m finding quite hard at the moment.
We’ve all seen pics of our Facebook friends doing wholesome activities with their children. Yes, yes, well done wholesome parent (I do like to post those pictures too!) but I want to be real about all the other bits too. The bits we choose not to share.
I was chatting to a lady at a wedding, a rather young and trendy looking vicars wife. She was being used as a climbing frame and slide by her three children and I was breastfeeding Arthur whilst glugging a glass of wine (must take at least ten minutes to make it to the milk right?). I asked her what it was like to have three children as opposed to two. Was it thrice the chaos? Or easiest third time over?
She got a little defensive and said that she never ever would whinge about anything that any of her children do and that God had blessed her with them and she would never be ungrateful for that.
Well, theology aside, I am also grateful for my kids but do believe that suppressing negative feelings is a great way to shortcut to a mental breakdown.
The struggles of women are often secret struggles. Heaven forbid we should moan (talk about how we are feeling) or complain (admit that we’re not finding things easy) or nag (try and delegate some of the tasks that our partners can’t take the initiative to help us out with). There are plenty of women seriously struggling and not talking about it. It’s pretty awful to suffer a miscarriage but many women keep them a secret. The tantrums of your child can reduce you to tears on really bad days but don’t complain about it. Aren’t you grateful for what you have? Aren’t they worth it all? Don’t you love them?
My kids each seem to be going through a rather challenging stage right now. To be honest, like many mums, the pictures that I post on Facebook of me and my kids having a lovely time is a mere snapshot rather than an overview of my day with them.
Not many people post pictures on Facebook of the horrible battle they have with their child about having their teeth brushed, the nappy which has exploded through every layer of clothing or the pasta sauce splattered, playmobil massacred state of their house.
Not many people mention, that for the first few weeks after having a baby, they can only pee by simultaneously pouring a bottle of water over their hoo haa.
Oh the joys!
At the moment, Arthur, who is six months old, has found a favourite and most effective noise. He squeals. It is very high pitched and he does it every few seconds. He does it very loudly and on some days it just goes on all day. Obviously when feeding or sleeping he doesn’t do it but on some days when playing with toys, when excited, when frustrated, when going for a walk, having his nappy changed, eating, bath time etc he is often squealing. It’s not an unhappy noise but it does make me want to duct tape pillows over my ears.
Audrey, who is soon to be four, basically wants to play with me all the time and I just cannot do that anymore. She gets very frustrated with me when I have to halt my role in her pretend games to entertain, feed or clean up Arthur.
At the moment I am not having a lovely time.
Actually, let me be really honest and say some things that I don’t often allow myself to say. Right, where to start.
I am finding this incredibly hard.
I am not enjoying myself.
I feel very stressed.
I feel very anxious.
I feel that the stress and anxiety of trying to cope with these two beautiful kids and all the poo and screaming and lack of sleep that comes with them sometimes builds up physically in my body and I will suddenly notice that my jaw and shoulders and fists and forehead are all bunched up and clenched like I am being slowly frozen from the top downwards by stress.
I feel that I should try harder and could do a better job of looking after my kids than I do now. Mainly I feel I should be coming up with wholesome and educational activities for them constantly and feel pretty guilty for how much I look forward to the little breaks I schedule in throughout the day where I breastfeed Arthur to sleep on my lap and let Audrey watch SpongeBob SquarePants.
I feel jealous of my husband who goes out to work where he will talk to other grown ups, use the toilet alone, perhaps have a cup of coffee, have a lunch break and where no one will scream at him or poo on their clothes and need it cleaning up.
When I go back to work it will mean putting Arthur in childcare. I can just imagine his sad tiny face looking around the room for Mummy. When Sam goes to work his kids are looked after by their mum, which, crap at it as I am, is what they want.
The thing is, some days are just really hard. Some weeks are really hard and everything feels much worse on only three or four hours of sleep. It has been a particularly difficult week because everything has been highlighted by having my car nicked and therefore feeling a bit trapped by our lack of mobility.
Am I not grateful for my kids? Do I not love them? Did I never want to be a parent? Do I wish I’d never had them?
Are you kidding?
I feel very very lucky to have them. They are quite literally my dreams come true.
It has not been an easy journey to become a family of four. We have struggled to conceive and I have struggled to stay pregnant and those two issues have been tough. Maybe that’s another blog post. If I am feeling brave enough.
The thing is though, is it ok for me to admit that there are some days when their (often very different) needs and all the rather boring tasks I do to fulfil them feels all consuming? The endless nappy changes, food shopping, the sodding laundry, playing princess fairies on a loop, scrubbing bits of ground-in spat out rice cakes off the floor, cooking, pushing swings, washing up, cleaning poo, sick and wee off various surfaces, managing and coping with tantrums, being kicked, bitten, slapped and soothing fractious babies who just will not go to bloody sleep, there are just some days when I feel a bit overwhelmed by all of it.
I feel so consumed by it all that I almost feel I have disappeared.
And if you don’t take pleasure in all the aspects of being a parent is it alright to admit that? Do you deserve your kids then? Do you still really love them?
Do you still love your kids if you hate washing their clothes and then hanging them out to dry and then taking them down and folding them up (have given up on ironing) and transporting them to the correct wardrobe/drawers to put them away?
What about if you are so sick of hearing the word Mummy (Mummy? Mummy? Mummy? Mummy? Muhhhh meeee? Mum? Mum? Mum? Muuuuhhh meeee? MUM-MAY?) or the sound of squealing that you find yourself fantasising about spending the entire day alone and in silence? Do you still love your kids then? Are you still a ‘good’ parent?
Well look, I am going to be bold enough to say that being Mum can sometimes be a bit shit. It is at times, but not at all times, a real struggle and if I admit that, then maybe it’s ok if you do too. Surely hard work and love, real love, go hand in hand. Not just for parents but for any relationship. Admitting that the work is hard doesn’t take away from the love at all.
I love my kids. They are the great joy and pain of my life. They are the people I most want to see happy and the people who I most want to leave me alone. When they are content, I have never felt more joy. When it is about four o’clock in the afternoon and they are so tired and whingy and crying and the baby won’t let me put him down and I need to make dinner and the place is in such a mess, I admit that at these times, I feel very alone and so very very grateful for kids tv. At these times, I am just counting down the minutes until my husband comes home to help me.
I am grateful for my wonderful children. Being their Mummy is a great privilege, but let’s just admit, for the sake of our own sanity, that on some days, being mum, is also quite literally, a little bit shit.