I was talking to my friend the other day about how other mum’s in her baby group had told her their babies slept through the night from like 2 days old and she panicked thinking she was doing something wrong because her baby still didn’t. I looked at her gone out because as a third time mother (in a three for two kind of way) I had totally forgotten the time when I too believed without question everything other mums said.
I’d forgotten the time when I would see a nice picture of a friends family on Facebook and I’d think their lives were ‘perfect’ and their kids were angels, the time when I thought only my son had a night feed until 13 months, only my son had tantrums, only my son drove me round the bend.
It dawned on me that somewhere between having one child and having three I had realised that the day to day crap you go through as a parent and the ‘oh my god I can’t handle this shit anymore’ that we all feel is universal. I had realised this, changed the way I viewed myself, my parenting and the picture people present to the world and I’d forgotten just how horrible and daunting taking what you see and hear at face value can be.
The truth is there is no rule book or guide, we are all told this but we ignore it and compare with our friends anyway, your baby is an individual and it’s not something waiting to be slotted into your life or a parenting style you’ve read works well. It will keep you up all night, it will cry and won’t settle itself, if it wants a feed in the night until its 18 months well then good luck stopping it, I certainly can’t stop the twins! You have to find a way through that works for you and your baby and shut out the white noise of people’s opinion.
More importantly though is the truth that for some reason women don’t like to say to one another perhaps because we worry it makes us sound like ‘bad mothers’ or like we don’t love our children, all of which is ridiculous. This truth is that being a mum can be unbelievably hard. It is COMPLETELY normal to want to smash your head against a wall, chew your own ears off, lock yourself in a cupboard, cry, scream, feel like you can’t cope any longer and swear a ridiculous amount (under your breath of course). EVERY mother feels like this from time to time, hell I pretty much feel like it on a daily basis, this doesn’t mean you can’t cope and it doesn’t mean you don’t love your children, it means your normal and parenting is tough.
In my opinion admitting this makes you a strong mother not a weak one because you’re speaking the truth that every single mum knows but not all say. We need to admit that sometimes we struggle and feel we can’t stand the moaning and endless “mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy” anymore. It broke my heart to see my friend question herself when she was doing such an amazing job, we need to stop feeling inadequate to other mothers, to stop comparing ourselves and competing.
All mum’s have days where you seem to chant in your head ‘FFS shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!’ where you are having to grit your teeth so hard you think they might shatter and you have no idea how you are managing to hold your shit together, days where your head feels like it is actually pulsing as anxiety, stress and anger race around you. This doesn’t mean you don’t love your children it means you are human. If you were put under the same amount of pressure and stress in any other situation you would walk away and admit defeat but as mums our love for our children means we stay and we endure and we persist. Only our children can make us feel we may actually have a nervous breakdown one minute and the next feel love so overwhelming and beautiful that we cry uncontrollably because they smiled at us or said they love us or simply because they are them. NEVER think that because you feel frustrated and stressed that you don’t love your children and never feel ashamed to say what most mum’s are thinking but are too scared to admit.
I have lived the last two years believing 100% that all mums go through the same ups and downs as I do, they feel the same fears I do, the same frustrations and the same overwhelming love for their children. Believing that has freed me from comparing myself to other mums or questioning my parenting skills, it’s made me secure in what I do, who I am and that how I feel is normal. All mothers should feel that way, we should stop only telling each other only the good and start telling one another the harsh realities so that we can all feel liberated and strong as mothers, surely that can only be positive thing t help us cope with the challenges of motherhood.