Not the mummy I thought I’d be…
Everyday, for at least one moment, I give myself a hard time for not being the mum I always thought I’d be. I think I always knew I would like to have children, but I had a completely unrealistic view on it as a twenty-something with no real insight to the life of a mummy. I remember thinking that I’d enter motherhood completely relaxed about it all, and I’d be the sort of mum that would take everything in her stride, letting my children play all day, make messes, stay up late, whilst I’d cook, clean and play with them all at the same time. I had this vision of how I’d thought I’d be, but 4 1/2 years and I’m scarily nowhere near.
With one child I was fairly relaxed. I wasn’t too strict about sleep routines and Lylah slotted into most aspects of our life, but naturally, it’s a massive change and your focus shifts to your child and what their needs are. I started maternity leave imagining how beautifully clean my house would be and how I would be the mum who had it together. I have fast learned that I hardly ever “have it together”, and that most time of the time I’m keeping my head above water whilst frantically paddling away under the surface.
Since I’ve had two children, a lot has changed. I struggle with something every single day, and before I go on, I do want to note that I know there are so many more parents out there who deal with more than two children, as well as many other difficult aspects of parenthood, but I am experiencing a whirlwind of emotions daily, and this is my account of them.
Things have escalated since having Malachy, not only because there are 2 small humans to look after, but because he is a much more active and boisterous child than Lylah ever was, something I’m really struggling to get used to! He is equally adorable, sensitive and cuddly, but when he is hanging off me by my hair for the twentieth time in a day, I find it hard to remember that!
When I put the children to bed in the evening, I take a deep breath, sit down and enjoy the freedom of my own body, i.e. not being sat/jumped/climbed on, and I also enjoy a few moments of quiet and sanity.
At the moment, the minute I hear Malachy shout my name in the morning, (and I mean shout, he literally starts the day shouting), I brace myself for the rest of the day. Ahead of me lies the daily struggles. He cries when I get him dressed, he hits my face, he races around the house threatening to run into everything, he tears every piece of paper in his path, he destroys toys the instant he touches them, he pulls Lylah’s hair ALL THE TIME, he won’t let me put him in the car seat (he has to climb up himself), and this goes on and on and on and on, until I put him to bed. Even bedtime has become an ongoing struggle of throwing toys out of the cot, demanding his music, his blanket, actually no not his blanket, “turn my music off!” – get my gist? It’s a constant, exhausting battle of wills and I’m at my wit’s end. Alongside this, I’ve got my beautiful 4 year old, who whilst is very well behaved and actually listens to me for the most part, is extremely demanding and bosses me around like she’s the mummy!
So contending with my two darling children, working part-time, running a makeup business, keeping a household together, keeping in touch with friends and family, catching up on my own interests, and oh yes, remembering to talk to my own husband, feels like a mountain of effort and it builds up to the point where I feel like I might explode. And the mummy I always wanted to be feels like a million miles away. I look around at my house, every room a chaotic mess, with my job list growing and growing, and I just want to cry. I see other mummies cope with it all, why can’t I? I feel constant guilt when I am home with the kids and they are asking me to play this, draw that, build this, and my constant response is “not right now sweetheart, mummy still has to do the washing”. I just can’t seem to find a way for all the cogs to work together, and I’m always on catch up mode.
I’ve talked to some friends about this recently, about the constant chaos of everyday life, remembering kids parties, and birthday cards, and packed lunches, along with the work deadlines and cleaning your children, and it seems it’s not just me. One fellow mum is getting through the school run with the help of rescue remedy – I tried it, it helps! One thing is for certain, you should not put too much pressure on yourself. Be the mum you actually are, rather than the one you think you should be. Let your children see the real you, rather than a polished fake version of you. Enjoy the motherhood experience for what it is, warts and all, and don’t try and pretend it’s anything else. Let us help each other feel good about being mummies, rather than judging, and most importantly, look at your children. Are they happy? Well fed? Clothed? Clean? If you can comfortably say yes to the above things, then even if they are lost beneath a mound of toys and you are panicking because you’ve run out of ham for their packed lunch again, then you’re doing a pretty amazing job.