Some days you are winning at Mum life. They nap when you need them to, they are all smiles and generally a joy to be around.
Other days, it’s like drowning in a vat of treacle. Today is one of those days.
And it’s only 10am!
I am now 30 weeks pregnant. I am tired, whale like and extremely hormonal, which probably is a lot to do with why I was weeping at 6.30 this morning. With the husband being stuck on his shift work and early starts for another three weeks, Josh is continuing his sympathy early morning starts and excelled by waking at 5am this morning. It was the straw that broke the exhausted mummy camels back. I decided I’d be smart, and give him some milk; usually a sure fire way to soothe him back to his slumber.
And it worked. He did fall back to sleep. For all of 45 minutes. I did NOT fall back to sleep at all because when I tried to go back to sleep my head became inexplicably filled with worries over the baby towels I’ve not ordered and my lack of maternity bras. And of course once you start trying to switch off, those thoughts multiply and deny you any sleep.
By now, Josh was once again awake and putting his best efforts into what sounded like him giving singing a go (quite sweet really but not at 6am) in his cot. I attempted to stay in bed and ignore him. My body was crying out for rest. But then new worries enter my head; “if he gets up now, he’ll want to nap when we’re meant to go out, he’ll be a nightmare at our playdate and I’ll be solo parenting and have to deal with the impending tantrums and his desire to make his body rigid when he undoubtedly goes to play in the one part of the church hall he’s not supposed to go in”. I can normally do this; cope, handle the tantrums or whatever he’s decided to throw at me, I manage peoples curious stares when they look at us mid struggle by returning them a confident “I’ve got this” smile. Today though, no confidence. No strength for the struggle and certainly no patience.
As the clock hits 6.30 I give in and get up, much to Josh’s delight. He has lots to look forward to in his innocent head; he’s up in time for the Twirlywoos and he knows he’ll most likely get a bottle of milk. As I settle him with his two favourite things I go and make myself a cup of tea. A cup of tea always helps right….
Buy by now, the flood gates had opened and I started to cry. And once I started, I couldn’t stop. I hid away in the toilet knowing Josh was too occupied with Peekaboo or whatever the bloody hell they’re called, and cried and cried. I thought letting it all out would be a good thing; it’s never good to bottle things up. But once the tears started they didn’t stop for a good couple of hours. I cried into my tea, into my weetos (I know, I must stop eating them) and I cried watching my happy little boy contently laugh at Hey Duggee.
I cried cause I felt like I was a shit Mum. I felt doubt about myself, about how I will cope when I have two. I had that womans voice in my head on repeat “I don’t know how you’ll cope with two”. I scrolled through Instagram wondering just how some of these Mums are SO happy at all times, polished, put together beautifully, with well behaved children and houses that look like they are straight out of a showroom. Usually I look at these Mums as inspiration; something to aim for on a good day. Today it made me just think how the fucking hell are you doing it? I know – Instagram isn’t necessarily real life; it’s a snapshot into life where things look pretty and put together when behind the scenes it’s like Fisher Price has vomited all over your house and you still have porridge in your hair from where this mornings breakfast was hurled. I know this; I am guilty of it myself. For every flatlay I proudly post, there is an array of mess cropped out the picture, and chaos behind the pretty fairy lights. That’s reality. I had to remind myself of that this morning.
I also had to remind myself that I am doing OK. That I am not a shit Mum. I guess that’s why I am partially writing this post; to remind myself it’s OK. It’s OK to have days where your head is spinning, you feel overwhelmed and you wonder how the hell to cope when you are just so tired. Its OK to have days where you need a good cry – I sometimes forget I have a gazillion hormones tornadoing through my system as I grow this much loved baby. It’s OK to sometimes say “hold up, I need a hand here I am spinning several plates and one of them is going to fall and smash any second”.
I beat myself up too much at times. If I go out today I will be stressed trying to control a (nearly) two year old who will be overtired, miserable and who will not understand why he can’t just run where he wants! I will have no patience and certainly no confident smile. I will most likely crumble, cry in public, make my excuses and leave with an air of shame about me and the fear that people will look at me and think “she can’t cope with that one”. If I don’t go I will have the Mum guilt; I won’t have taken Josh to something active and although he’ll be rested and have caught up on sleep, will he be stimulated. I can’t always win can I. Because as Mums, sometimes no matter how hard we try, we can’t do EVERYTHING.
I have a healthy, happy and very active child. Next weekend he turns two and I couldn’t be prouder of him. Yes he’s hard work(aren’t all toddlers); many people tell me they can’t believe how “busy” he is as he constantly runs around, and I have concerns over things like his speech and even his independence when it comes to him preferring to play by himself and finding large social activities overwhelming. But I deal with it, as best I can and isn’t that all any of us can do. Doing your best is everything your child needs. In my eyes I keep seeing failures in myself. But to him, I provide him with cuddles, milk, good food (the only one I actually like to cook for in this house, apart from weekends when I relax a bit and go all pesto pasta and Annabel Karmel ready meals – God, I am so hopeless today I even feel guilty writing that and am praying no one judges me), I am a constant play mate, I make sure we go out every day and get fresh air and I am there to wipe every tear, snot smear and smelly bum. To him, I like to think, I am everything. I am his world as he is mine.
So why is it that sometimes we can’t see for looking that we are doing just fine. No, maybe not all day every day do we feel entirely happy or like we are kicking arse at motherhood, but for the vast majority of the time we are! And when we have those toilet crying moments when we’re not, were we’re doubting ourselves, we need to cut ourselves some slack. It’s not always easy to take a step back and gain some perspective; it can be a lot easier said than done. It’s not always easy to remind yourself how lucky you are when you’re crying and sleep deprived. I think one of the things that really got me this morning was knowing I am already so tired, and I know the tiredness is going to get worse and that is what is really scary.
Motherhood is rewarding, amazing and something that truly is a gift. It’s also challenging, exhausting and the most difficult job in the world. Everything is all about balance isn’t it and I know that despite having a tear fuelled day today, there is every chance tomorrow will be an absolute joy and I’ll hopefully have caught up on sleep. And when baby number two arrives I will cope. I will have an idea of what to expect; I won’t be thrown in at the deep end as I was with Josh, instead I will be wading in the shallow end and somewhat prepared (stocking up on coffee as we speak). Worrying that I am going to be rubbish is something I simply have to let go of. Thankfully these days the logical side of my brain does seem a lot louder than the emotional side and I know in the midst of tears, I can hear that voice saying “it’s OK, you are going to get through this shit storm of a morning even if it means biscuits for breakfast (mine, not Josh’s)”.
So today I chose not to dwell on my morning of sobbing. I vow to get up, out of the house and get some fresh (but bloody freezing) air, and to remind myself that this is largely down to sleep deprivation and insane hormones. Because I am and will continue to be a good Mum. No matter how much doubt or exhaustion I feel.
It’s just one of those days.