Being a mum… Bleurgh.
That’s right, I’m back bitches, and how better to burst back onto the blogging scene after three months in the wilderness than a good old honest post about how much parenting blows sometimes. (I agonised over whether to add the sometimes to the end of that sentence, right now I feel like it’s most times)
Approximately two and half years ago (!) I wrote a post called ‘Not enjoying it? That’s okay.’ It was all about how when you have a newborn loads of parents with older kids say crap like “cherish this time, it goes so fast” and you smile and nod in a way that implies that you’re finding ‘this time’ truly precious, whilst internally you’re screaming “I FUCKING HOPE IT GOES FAST! GET THIS CREATURE OFF MY BOOB AND LET ME SLEEP FFS!” Or something along those lines…
So that post was all about how it’s okay to not enjoy parenthood from the outset cos it’s bloody hard and you’re sleep deprived and all that. It was an attempt at reassuring those many millions of humans out there who think they should be feeling things they just aren’t feeling. Well, I’m here to tell you, my ‘Bubs’ just turned three years old and I’m still not enjoying it as much as I think I should be. True story.
Some context: Dear Reader, you know when you feel like you’ve got your shit together and life decides to give you a good hard throat punch? Without going into any detail (this ain’t that kind of blog) this year my particular throat punch has resulted in becoming unexpectedly single after ten years, and consequently becoming a single mum. Now, things aren’t that bad; we share childcare fairly evenly and in many ways I’m happier than I’ve been in years. But still, FML. My life admin requirements have soared in recent months and, I’m not sure if it’s a direct correlation but enjoyment of parenthood has somewhat plateaued. #understatement
“I love my son… I’m a frickin’ lioness of a mother.”
Let’s get something straight from the start: I love my son. I love him fiercely. I’m a frickin’ lioness of a mother. And I like him, he’s a frickin’ joker. Sometimes we cuddle up on the sofa and watch a film and I’m all loved up. On the other hand, I like him a bit less when he comes up to me just as I’m trying to show the gas man how to read our electric metre and says, with a gleeful look in his eye, “I did a wee on the sofa”. But you know what I mean.
He’s a great kid, I wouldn’t swap him for any other kid (except maybe my friends little girl who hoovers up after herself, that is the dream). But loving my son is a very different thing from enjoying doing all the shit that comes with parenthood and sometimes, more frequently in recent months, I just don’t enjoy it. I don’t, and I don’t care who knows.
Being a parent is hard. And doing it alone is hard. Even if you’re in a partnership you can feel like you’re being stretched too thin, like you’re fraying at the seams with all the different directions you have to push your mind in. Money, work, family, friends, children, children, children, children, children…
Recently the classic “I’m a bad mother” thoughts have begun to enter my head. Why? Because whilst I’m bathing, reading stories (and doing all the voices) and singing lullabies to my happy, healthy son I’m longing to be downstairs with a Pinot Grigio. Because occasionally I get so wound up that I raise my voice a bit too loud at an unnecessary moment. Because, basically I am a human with flaws that I sometimes let my child see.
Big. Fucking. Deal.
“Most of us are fumbling around, just doing our best not to completely fuck our kids up.”
The problem isn’t really any of that stuff; it’s my feelings about that stuff. I know that some people genuinely do love being a parent; it’s their vocation and for one reason or another they just take to it. But most of us are fumbling around, just doing our best not to completely fuck our kids up. We are loving them fiercely and trying hard but also occasionally wishing that this wasn’t our lives. Right? You can admit it, Dear Reader, this is a safe space.
Every now and then I have a momentary thought that I just want out. Out of this motherhood malarky. I can’t cope. I’m shit at it. Let me out!
The consequence of this split second thought is utter, corrosive guilt. It’s as if that very thought proves I am simply not qualified for parenthood. How could any loving parent think such thoughts? Am I the actual worst?
The answer, of course, is no. Those thoughts (and I think it’s safe to assume I’m not the only one who has them) aren’t directed at our children, but at our lives in general, at the relentlessness of it all and the fact that, in that moment, we really can’t deal with a small person shouting ‘I hate you’ in our faces. We just need some sleep. And some fun. Leave us alone!
“There is literally no thought that can make you a bad parent. None.”
The thing – as this is a big one so listen up – there is literally no thought that can make you a bad parent. None.
It’s very hard to define what a ‘good parent’ is, but we could all list the traits of an objectively bad one: neglectful, demeaning, abusive. We are not those parents. We are simply not.
Because, whilst you may be thinking “someone get me the fuck out of here I can’t watch another fucking episode of In the fucking Night Garden” you are also making your child something to eat, playing whatever strange game is the order of the day and, yes, letting them watch CBeebies for a bit so you can clean up their mess/check your email/drink a cup of tea. You are making sure there is enough money so they can eat and be clothed and have stuff. You are probably doing a thousand things besides this, with very little credit for any of it. Women, especially I think, are just expected to do all this, you not gonna get a medal for motherhood, though it’s the hardest, longest serving job you’ll ever have. And on top of that, there’s some weird unspoken thing that requires you to ‘love every minute of it’.
“The real wonder is that we enjoy it at all!”
When you think about it in that way, the real wonder is that we enjoy it at all! These small people are unfathomable and unreasonable in the extreme, but we love them fiercely. And they make us laugh. And sometimes it’s really really nice. Like, the nicest thing ever. In the whole world. But sometimes the nice moments seem rarer and the tense clock-watching-til-bedtime moments feels much more dominant. We’re tired and often lonely and we can’t love every minute, or even most minutes, however much we love our kids.
Well, all I can say is, that’s okay. And it’s bloody normal!
Do you also not always feel completely in love with the whole parenting thing? Please share! The comment section is waiting for your outpouring of FMLs!