Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the things we feel we must be doing that we are blind to the things that are actually happening.
Since becoming a mother my life feels like it has been turned completely on it’s head. For the better, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love it. I will admit though, it is the hardest thing I have ever done.
All of a sudden, there was a wee small tiny human that depended on me for EVERYTHING!! You become their whole world and, for me, that thought was terrifying. I was just about capable of looking after myself and hubby (and he is a grown man).
In the early hours of the morning, in the midst of a night feed, I looked at Elsie snuggled in my arms and realised that everything I do with her, everything I say, will help to shape the person she will become. Wholly petrifying! And then, because I had never done anything like this before, I started questioning whether I was a good enough mother and whether I was doing it right. Compound panic.
When she was about 3 weeks old I started going to a mother and baby group. I’ve never been one to “fit in” and I really noticed it then. I was acutely aware that I was doing things slightly differently to the majority of the other ladies there. I was one of only two women to be breastfeeding, I didn’t put my baby down, she was in baby grows and not proper clothes and, more evidently, I looked like the living dead whilst they all had nice clothes and make up on and hair beautifully straightened.
As the weeks went on I felt increasingly more alienated, which looking back on it now, had nothing to do with the ladies there and everything to do with my own feelings of panic and inadequacy. At the same time as this, I started to get well-meaning advice. In my head all I was hearing was that I needed to change everything I was doing with Elsie and then I would be parenting properly, she’d sleep through, I wouldn’t be tired, I’d be able to present a clean and tidy house to visitors, I’d look like I actually wanted to see people and maybe I wouldn’t be so miserable. In short, I’d be normal.
I’ve realised this year that I spent the first 12 months of Elsie’s life trying to do what I thought I ought to be doing for my baby and family from a picture I had built out of what other people were doing and what I was “meant” to be doing. So ultimately, by Christmas I felt like a complete and utter failure. I failed at being a mother, I failed at being a wife, I was a crappy friend and just a useless human being in general.
Since September last year I have met two amazing women from totally different parts of my life who have helped me to start seeing that this actually isn’t the case.
I have a brilliant family, I can’t have done too badly as we are all still here and most days actually clean and dressed.
I have the best friends any one could ever wish for, I have just realised I need to let them in. Ladies, we shall call you S, H, C and N, you know who you are.
I have a wonderfully supportive (and crackers) group of women on the interwebs whom I would never have met without becoming a mother.
Your story won’t be the same as mine, but you will have moments, days, weeks where you feel so overwhelmed by something that it is the only thing that matters, that you are the only person that can do anything about it and no one will understand, or care.
We all need someone to stand with us, even if they cannot actually fix it for us. Let them in. You don’t have to tell them everything, you don’t have to tell them anything but just let them know you need them.
Find your person and be kind to yourself. You are ARE worth it and you are most definitely not a failure.
p.s. It is now my belief that you cannot have a tidy house with a toddler.