I’m just a normal stay at home mum of one toddler, doesn’t sound too scary does it? Pretty much since the day she was born the same question pops into my head, “why is this so hard?”. On the face of it its simple, just you and a baby, you’re not being asked to solve world problems or fly to the moon.
During her first weeks people would ask the normal questions: “how are you finding motherhood?”, in my dazed and confused state the only word that seemed to sum it up was ‘relentless’. At the time I just couldn’t understand why it should be so hard, was I just complaining about nothing? wasn’t I meant to just be getting on with it? Most of the time I felt like I was on a sick-inducing fairground ride that I couldn’t get off.
I know that lack of sleep is a killer (believe me I KNOW!), as my health visitor said sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture, something I feel with every ounce of my being some days. So maybe that’s part of it.
If you’ve been used to a busy work life then shifting gear to being home alone with a baby can feel like someone has just abruptly turned off all the lights. You no longer have to use your brain that much (not for complicated stuff anyway), its more about figuring out what the hell you’re meant to be doing hour to hour, day by day. That’s not easy either. Its a lot of trial and error and realising what works one day doesn’t work at all the next. If you’re used to being an efficient, highly driven perfectionist who thrives on achievement and getting things done… well, you’re basically fucked when you become a mother.
I like to think its the intelligent cool mums who suffer the most after the transition to motherhood (well I would wouldn’t I?!). I think its precisely because we’ve been used to ‘doing our thing’ in the big wide world that we find the new ‘lifestyle’ difficult, in a more limiting way. We’re not planning strategy, contributing to exciting new projects, or testing our intellectual limits, we’re lets face it sometimes just watching Peppa Pig and hoping the little tot takes a nap REALLY soon before you go mad or die of tiredness.
I do feel bad for complaining, for many reasons but mainly because I do only have the one little precious and I’m conscious that for some ladies out there motherhood is unjustly impossible. So here’s another one… guilt. Guilt is something we become all too familiar with as mothers and contributes to life’s difficulties. I remember last year moaning and crying to my husband that I needed a break but then as soon as I got one a) I didn’t know what to do with myself and b) felt guilty and a big fat failure of a mother for not being with her during that time.
So why does anyone ever have kids? Its just mind numbing, monotonous, relentless rounds of wiping stuff up, tidying, making food thats literally thrown in your face, explaining why ‘no’ has to be ‘yes’ and in my case spending HOURS sat by her cot with her hand planted to my right eye (its a quirky comfort thing!) while she tries to go to sleep.
But of course, its not all bad. There are magic moments (and not just when they’ve finally gone to bed!). I feel incredibly fortunate to have had her and be able to enjoy every minute and watch her grow without having to hand her over to someone else (apart from that one weekend we escaped to Amsterdam on my husband’s motorcycle, but that’s one for another time!). This mothering lark really is a game changer and has given me a sense of purpose that goes beyond achievements in the workplace or anywhere else, and don’t tell anyone I said this but I actually love having her little hand on my eye when she’s tired or needs comfort!