Still not enjoying it? That’s still okay.

mothers-be-like

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.

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I made this chart a while ago, on reflection I think 25% was probably quite generous.

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’.

Fuck that.

“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!

Isn’t it?

 

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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!

You can also tweet me or show me some Facebook love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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24 thoughts on “Still not enjoying it? That’s still okay.

  1. Oh my GOODNESS I feel you. Your whole blog really! I also became unexpectedly single nearly a year ago. Charmingly it was four weeks before our second child was born. With an 18 month old too. Before Christmas. It was proper shit.
    I love the absolute bones of my boys but I’m exhausted. For various reasons childcare isn’t split at all equally and the responsibility of being ‘on’ all the time is overwhelming. I’m terrified I’m not going to spot something dangerous or predict whatever ludicrously stupid act my toddler may next commit (he’s a night roamer and a climber and has worked out how to open the front door just for funzies) and there’s nobody else to cover my back. And then there’s the rage at being so horribly let down by someone who was supposed to love me.
    I am strong. I am coping. People tell me I’m doing incredibly but sometimes it’s very hard to believe this when they watch Pingu on loop because I’m just too bloody tired and wrung out to play anymore. But I keep hope that it will improve, it has already in the 11 months it’s been so far and there are glimpses of light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to keep ploughing on I guess! Plough on and harbour fantasies of one day being able to leave the boys with a babysitter for a whole weekend so I can check into a hotel and sleep!
    You write amazingly and have so often spoken to me. I hope you have a lot of support and love in real life x

    • Nell, what a gem you are. Thanks so much for your kind words about my blog, it’s so encouraging. The whole the reason I started this was to reassure others a tiny bit if it I could. And make you laugh!
      You situation sounds overwhelming in the extreme and PLEASE never feel guilty for Pingu on repeat. Like, NEVER. TV is lush, I watched loads and I have a Masters degree, which is basically scientific proof that it makes you clever. Right?
      Big up yourself, thanks for reading! X

      • TV is DEFINITELY lush! And he does an absolutely cracking impression of the stroppy penguin now so he’s obviously honing his acting skills! X

  2. All I can say is, you will survive this. It’s so hard, so exhausting but it changes over time. The front door opening ability is worrying though. Hang a really noisy wind chime just inside your door so if it’s opened you hear it. A more sophisticated alarm is an electronic beam across the door threshold so your son going to the door will trigger an alarm that sounds like a doorbell.

  3. The gagantian task that is motherhood would be so much easier if these feelings were widely acknowledged. As it is I feel we are all encouraged to perpetuate the myth of blissful mothering. We all suffer as a result. Thanks for being gutsy, honest and articulate enough to help set the record straight.

  4. I also love my son to bits but it only became easier when he turned 4. I remember some mothers of older children telling me that it never gets better, the problems just become different but I’m please to say things have got easier for me.

  5. It’s nice to feel I’m not alone. I feel I’m supposed to be in love with my kids all the time and it’s hard. I love them like you say I’d stop anyone hurting them but it’s demanding and draining. Thank you for saying out loud what lots of us are thinking and feeling xx

  6. I have been through exactly those thoughts/feelings recently where I felt like I was just rubbish at this while mother thing and sometimes wondered why on earth I had embarked upon it in the first place. Around the time my daughter turned three. Two months later I a,s tarting to feel the love big time – somehow she has started to become more grown up and it makes it much easier, I still drift close to the desperate zone regularly and into it some days, but it does seem like a good patch has emerged from what was a fairly grim mother funk . And I totally think it gets easier, three and a bit is WAY WAY WAY easier than the baby that is just in you all the time. Thanks for validating the pain and torture it sometimes is.

  7. Yes, yes, yes! I often say being ‘his’ mum [my toddler’s] is fab but being ‘a’ mum in general is not really my cup of tea haha! I love the bones of him and wouldn’t swap him for the world but Jesus Christ how do some people cope having loads of kids non stop for whole portions of their lives? This was a great read and I’m glad I’m not the only one!

  8. Great post! Totally get it and loved reading it. In real life no-one seems to ‘get’ me when I tell them I don’t like being mum and can’t wait for the kids to grow up. So I’ve stopped talking about it. I love my kids to bits and can be a real lioness to protect them but oh boy, why they are growing up so slow?!? They are 7 and 10 now, and to be honest, my feelings of not liking being mum are still there, nothing to do with being tired and fed up with day to day parenting. I’ve learned to live with it, and I think you can still be great mum without truly enjoying it. x

  9. I wish I had money for the amount of times I’ve had to explain after “I don’t like children” “but you must, you have three!”

    No. I love MY children. I like their personalities. But no, I don’t like children. I have no idea what to say to them. My first being ASD was a blessing as she never wanted to talk like a child.

  10. Thanks so much for this. I constantly feel guilty and I’m made to feel less superior than other mums who regularly post on facebook about what a fabulous mumsy life they live. Their posts comparing their lives to something out of The Waltons or The Sound of Music make me want to throw up. I literally spend nearly every day counting down the hours until my kids’ bedtime so I can spend a precious hour by myself, drinking wine, before collapsing into bed in an exhausted heap. I love my kids more than life but being a mother sucks most of the time. But what depresses me more than anything is that one day, so I’m told, I’ll miss these days. How bad is it going to get that I will miss the days when my 2, 5 and 7 year olds don’t give me a minute’s peace??!!

    • Yeah, that’s bullshit I reckon. That’s what people said to me and my son being a baby and I DO NOT miss it! Yes there will be a tug at my hurt strings when he no longer wants me to sing him a lullaby at bedtime etc but actually I’ll also be happy to see him growing up I imagine!!

  11. THANK YOU!!!!! I’ve had a really tough time lately with my daughter and feel like running away with a G &T for a month so this article really hit home…and made me laugh so thank you x

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