This Saturday, I was all over it. Parenting the shit out of life, being a super mama, a mum boss, working it, etc… For about an hour or so.
I’d planned and organised (with some help) a local event for new and expectant parents, and was selling my hypno- wares there too.
Louis (3) was handing out goodie bags and charming the ladies like a little cockney cherub. Rory (8 weeks) was in the sling, mostly asleep, eventually awake to feed, being super cute and smiley for anyone who engaged with him.
I lost count of the number of women who told me, “You’re amazing! You’ve got a 3yr old and a newborn and you’ve sorted this! You look great. It looks so effortless with baby in sling. You’re feeding him standing up- like a pro. You’re so on top of things!”
Now don’t get me wrong, that felt nice. Who doesn’t want to hear that stuff? The sisterhood was strong- it’s important to build each other up, to say out loud the encouraging things that go through our minds. I was grateful. But you know what else is important- REALITY CHECK.
Yes, by some miracle, the stars aligned for a short time, allowing me to appear as if I’m nailing it all. But let’s review the last 8 weeks, in brief.
-For the first 6 weeks, I cried. Every day. More than once. Some days hysterically sobbing, stopping only because I nodded off. I remember one day crying so hard whilst feeding Rory that my nose was streaming onto him as I fed him, but there was nothing I could do as I needed both hands to keep him in position otherwise my nipple couldn’t cope. Truth.
-I am tired. All day, all night, every moment. In the first 2 weeks, with 2 hospital stays, there were 5 entire nights where I actually did not go to sleep. I am yet to recover from this, because pretty much every night since I’ve been awake more than asleep.
-I need a facial. The third trimester glow has long gone, my cleansing regime is 99% baby wipe and so my skin is horrendous. But there’s always make up. Shit loads of make up.
-I feel guilty. All the time. About everything. Failing to meet Louis’s needs because I’m feeding the baby. Failing to respond quickly enough to the baby as I’m taking Louis to the toilet. Snapping at anyone and everyone, not keeping up with the washing, not replying to messages quickly, or at all, the amount of TV we are watching, the amount of rubbish we are eating. All sources of guilt. It’s all consuming.
-I’ve been anxious. Initially about the feeding, as it’s been so important to me, and we’ve had so many issues, as per an earlier post. But more recently about my work- I LOVE my work. It’s weird even calling it work. I find such joy and satisfaction in supporting families on this journey into parenthood- it’s a dream come true to make a living from it. But taking time off is risky when you work for yourself, and I’ve made some questionable decisions about the logistical arrangements for my courses, booking systems etc. I’ve acted in haste in order to try and make the most of the fleeting moments where a child is not strapped to me/ feeding from me/ needing me to wipe their bum/ wash their hands/ read to them/ switch the channel/ find a random toy we haven’t seen in months. I’ve created all sorts of little stresses. I’m ironing them out. Just.
Does this read like the life of someone who has got their shit together? No. Because let’s face it, none of us have. And I’m absolutely blessed to have a mama gang around me who I can be honest with about all this.
I remember plenty of times when Louis was a baby feeling utterly useless because other people seemed to be gliding through motherhood, whilst I dragged myself through treacle to make it to the end of each day. It’s only when I started to really connect with other mamas, women I could be honest with, and who would be honest with me, that I understood we are all in the same boat.
There are mothers I am in awe of. Women who have quickly gotten back to work, who have strong and lean bodies, who can bake a cake, who look immaculate, who stay at home with their children and seem to love every moment. I have huge respect for so many incredible women around me.
But I know that my perception of them and their lives is false. Not because they are trying to deceive me, but because the darkest times are when we are alone. Up for the tenth time that night, dealing with a nappy explosion when you were just about to leave the house, screaming at your husband for no real reason at all. You know what I’m talking about.
Of course, most of us don’t go around declaring these difficulties to the world, instead sharing perfectly filtered Instagram snaps of our #mumlife and right we are to celebrate the good times.
But I am an oversharer by nature- if you’ve read any of my other posts you will know for sure that this is true. So I was quick to correct the lovely women who chatted with me on Saturday. My silence in the face of all those lovely compliments would be compliance with the lie, and believing the lie does none of us any good.
Yes, we can achieve amazing things-women are strong, mothers incredibly so. We are resourceful, resilient, and super productive. But let’s not pretend it’s easy. I’m calling an end to the great mothering fake off.