19.02.21 – In Which I Document My Failed Attempts At Parenting, The Dark Lord (Little M – 2yrs9m) And The Tiny Tyrant (Baby F – 5m)
(Some Of My) Honest Parenting Adventures: Thoughts I Probably Shouldn’t Say Out Loud, Things I Find Funny, Musings And Ramblings; Read With Your Tongue Firmly In Your Cheek.
WAS I BETTER AS A “ONE AND DONE” MUM?
COMING TO YOU LIVE FROM THE BATHROOM.
Yes, I am serious. I have locked the door and I am perched on the toilet. I am uncomfortable and I am cold, since I didn’t have the foresight to bring a jumper with me and the minute that anyone hears the scrape of the bolt unfastening, I’ll have lost my chance to do anything for me. The constant drip from the tank of the aforementioned toilet, which is broken by the way, is torture, but I am nothing if not resilient and ever ready to seize any opportunity that presents itself.
Sense the tone.
I suspect that I will find it hard to write today without swearing but since I’m not that kind of girl, you can insert the swear words, whilst I keep it clean.
There are things I suspected about life as a mother of two (five if you include the dogs and the Mr – at least one of whom can be harder work than all the others combined if the mood strikes, namely when the PlayStation controller goes missing); the thoughts and emotions I’d be faced with for example. I discussed life as a family of four with friends and family, I read a few token books on the matter and I scoured blog posts on it; every one assured me that I’d be fine. Let’s face it, it’s hardly a unique position: There are millions of parents out there raising tribes so big they need to trade-up their cars, for buses and they’re nailing it. At least on Instagram. I was prepared for some of i but there are have also been plenty of surprises along the way, and I have no doubt there will be a great many more. “Your heart will double in size,” they said. They were right. It does. I’ll tell you what else happens… your buckets of mum guilt grow too. They become carpet bags, endless in depth, so you can walk around like Mary Poppins gathering more and never filling it up. Meanwhile your patience has left the building. Well, mine has, along with any sense of who I am without children, any hint of there once flat stomach and just the one chin, and worst of all, any remnants of self-confidence. I’m not proud of it but there it is and these are my honest parenting adventures after all.
In the six months prior to Baby F’s arrival and in the nearly six months since, I have told myself that if I plan enough, try harder, get up earlier, crack daytime napping and a bedtime routine that has gone awry, I can make sure each child gets enough attention, that I can achieve balance. But the ugly truth is – I can’t.
Between postpartum healing, running a household (barely), even the most sub-par personal hygiene, keeping everyone fed, in nappies, clothed, minimally entertained, and dealing with my own regular life droll like walking the dogs, all the “magic” seems to have been sacrificed. My bright ideas to start my own business, to get my blog up and running and to begin projects in preparation for our house move, have been pushed to the bottom of the list repeatedly. There’s simply no time left in the day to prepare an inviting Valentines themed play table or a Chinese New Year activity tray for the DL, let alone paint my nails, straighten my hair or paint on some eyeliner.
The disappointment in myself, weighs down on my shoulders.
I am disappointed that despite all the time stuck at home that lockdown has afforded me, I still can’t pull myself together and use all I know from being an experienced teacher to provide days full of magic and wonder for my children. I am disappointed in how shabby both my house and I look, but that I never get around to doing anything about it. I’m disappointed that I let it get to me like this.
I miss Little M. I know that sounds strange but I miss her and I miss ‘us’; I miss a me who was present and fun, with endless time to “Cuggle, cuggle,” or to do whatever else she asked “Again, again!” Between the late-night feedings and the out of character behaviour that arrived when Baby F arrived, she grew up. Just like that. She’s a little girl now. I miss the infinite patience and understanding that I had. I also miss something that I never even had with Baby F – all that I shared with Little M, the delight, awe and wonder of being a first-time mum, and time just for us. If I could share any advice it would be this: Don’t look away, even for a second. The hours are long but the days rush past. Don’t let yourself wake up one day having missed this time. The weight of the fear of missing precious time because I was preoccupied with something meaningless keeps me up at night.
To be honest, I don’t consider myself to be a great mother of two. I was better as a “one and done” mum. But I knew that I wasn’t ‘done’, that I had enough love for two, and even now I’m not convinced two is enough. But the purpose of this post is not a pity party… I believe I’m good enough, and in parenthood that’s all you can truly hope for or else you’ll break yourself jumping for a bar that can never be reached. I love my children, I will always do my best by them. We’re all just pretending to know what we’re doing at the end of the day. Do I miss feeling like a super mum? Well, it didn’t happen very often but now it never happens, so yes. Could I go back to a life without Baby F? Absolutely not. I can’t comprehend happiness without them, it would be like losing a vital organ
I don’t write any of this to scare or deter you. I adore both of my children with every cell in my body. I wanted and planned for them both. My role as a mother is a role I cherish. I have no regrets. No matter how much I whine for alone time, alone time feels empty. But if like me, you’re dragging your carpet bag of guilt around with you, struggling to reconcile yourself with certain aspects of your life, lifting your eyes to survey the chaos of your home as you scroll through perfect posts on Instagram displaying swoon-worthy interiors and inviting playrooms, and because of that packing a little more guilt into your already bulging bag, know that you’re not alone.
Perhaps you’re on the fence, debating whether you want to produce another tiny human? For some reason people feel like they have a right to get up in the business of your uterus almost immediately after you’ve had a baby, apparently shocked that you’re returning from maternity leave without another bun in the oven, wanting to know when you are going to be trying for number two. Trust your gut and don’t let anyone guilt you into doing something that makes you uneasy. If you’re happy with one it’s okay to not have another. It’s okay to change your mind too. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. Maybe you don’t want to think about it for a little while.
One of my best friends had those feelings until she didn’t; this week she welcomed her second daughter into the world. I cried when she texted me the news from her hospital bed I was so happy for her. I met her at our NCT classes, a mummy-to-be that I immediately recognised as a kindred spirit. We talked about the stuff that matters. Not recipes or the best schools, but the dark bits of motherhood – the depression, the exhaustion, the arguments. Adult conversation can be hard to come by, never mind worthwhile conversation with another mummy who doesn’t leave you feeling even worse about yourself. We soothed each other in our joint awkwardness and discomfort, at least that’s how I felt. Anyway, she was determined that one was done; I on the other hand was not impressed that this news would mean that maternity leave round two would see me without her. Very selfish! Turns out that even though she did decide that she was up for another batch of sleepless nights, Covid-19 forced me into the most isolated pregnancy and maternity leave I could of ever imagined this time and we didn’t get to enjoy the classes, cake and coffee we were once so fond of.
Points being: The biggest joke in motherhood is the word NEVER and Mummy knows best when it comes to herself.
The time has come when my MacBook is running out of charge and the toilet is required so I will say my goodbyes. I must say that I thought this post would have been a bit funnier. It seems that for today at least, the funny has left the building. Until next time,
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SHARING IS CARING
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