Posted on December 7, 2015
I was asked if I’m going to write about Christmas. And hopefully I will. But this is not that post. If you’re looking for heart-warming merry and bright stories of hope and joy turn away now. Abandon hope all ye who enter here.
There will be no recipes for gingerbread men ahead.
This post is another in the fuck I’m tired series of non-aspirational blogging. Grab that half-eaten toastie your toddler wouldn’t eat because it was too much of a toastie and not enough of a white iceblock. Snuggle into the sour-smelling breast feeding cushion you keep meaning to air out. Ignore the dishes or say something passive aggressive about them to your partner.
Take a moment. Of “me time” if you will.
Here goes – I’ve been thinking heaps about the weird juxtaposition of how you feel in your body versus how you feel in your mind when you’re a mother. And of course, it might not be the same for everyone, but this is what it feels like for me….
Physically, I feel like I am 800 years old instead of 30. I often feel like I might be dying because my body seems to be failing me all over the place. Melodramatic yes – but it does feel a bit like that.
Mothering seems to have drained me. Sometimes I feel there’s little of me left physically. I’m like a work horse or something. Three years of this parenting lark and I need to be put out to pasture or something.
Emotionally, mentally, psychologically – it’s strange because it’s the opposite.
Since becoming a mother, emotionally I have somehow been rejuvenated. It takes a toll on you – there’s no doubt about that. The anxiety, fear, the low-level worry that you have. But somehow even with all of that it feels as if I have been stripped to a new me. I feel more alive in so many ways. Like I’m who I am meant to be. Full of hope and wonder and all of those lovely things. I feel a lot more fulfilled, satisfied, by my lot. I feel lucky and overwhelmed. Creatively, all of this writing – doing, volunteering – I’m more productive than I’ve ever been.
A gracious plenty.
I never thought I’d be any different as a mother to who and how I was Before. And Before feels like a lot more than three years ago. But I am so different.
If my cup is full though (and indeed it is) it’s also chipped and cracked.
The physical side. It’s like my body is trying to catch up with everything else. My mind is – I want to be writing! Creating! Doing! Let’s go for picnics! And paint! And I’ll do this work, and that! And I have a new project and another one and more!
And my body is just like – yeah, nah, you’re not getting off the couch.
I don’t know if it’s the constant sleep deprivation, but I figure it must be. Because even when you do get some sleep – it’s never enough. I don’t know many mothers who are getting enough sleep if they have babies under two. I know many who have kids under five and they’re still not getting enough sleep.
Even when you do finally get sleep, it’s like you have to learn how to sleep all over again.
I never seem to be asleep long enough to get into a deep sleep. I used to day dream when I was first pregnant – I imagined a little baby tucked into me, sleeping peacefully. I too slept deeply and easily. How could I not? I had a baby so all my dreams had come true.
It actually feels more like I’m a zoo keeper and the pygmy hippopotamus I’m in charge of has finally succumbed to a 12th shot of sedation. I’m sweating, exhausted, and this plumb, pink, irritated little thing is finally asleep – taking up approximately three fourths of the bed.
You then make the decision – do I sleep now? Or try to get some paid work done? Try to get some work that makes me happy done (this)? Try to clean the house? Spend some time with my husband who I barely see these days?
I know I’m painting a bleak picture. And I don’t mean to. But – I am sick again. And again, the diagnosis seems to be – you’re a worn and weary mother. You’re not getting enough sleep. You’re not eating well enough. You’re not getting enough fluids. You need to rest more. You need to wean.
And when are mothers meant to be doing that? A mother is never really at rest. I want to do some uplifting post where I’m all – come on mums! Take some time for you! You deserve it! Happy mum, happy baby! You matter! Put yourself first! You need to be healthy to look after your family!
But to be honest – it feels like bullshit and it feels like I’d be lying.
Right now, answering my phone or checking a text message or replying to an email feels exhausting – let alone somehow trying to convince you that we can all just feel better if we just take some “me time”.
You know what me time really is? Half an hour spent wasted looking at Buzzfeed lists or reading the horrifically racist Facebook status updates of a distant relative and thinking – why the fuck did I ever allow myself to friend family on here?
And then the baby cries and it’s done. And you’re kicking yourself for not doing something worthwhile. Like showering.
And then everyone else tells you – relax! Happy mum, happy baby! And if I hear that one more fucking time – my kids are awesome. They’re thriving! My littliest is literally a suckling piglet. He’s a gorgeous little vampire. As I diminish he gets happier and chunkier. Happy Baby is not an issue.
Yes, I need to take better care of myself but gosh, saying that doesn’t miraculously change this point in time. My baby is wee – he’s not sleeping much. It’s teeth or colds or that goddamn fucking swaddle from Hell, or something. So that’s it for now.
For now I’m exhausted. And I have another cold. And I am fighting another virus and I’m fighting apathy.
But I also have all of these ideas and plans and things I want to do and my brain is still kind of working and I’m excited about doing things and I want to do things but also I can’t because I’m exhausted and sick.
And I just think this is our lot sometimes. And it would be nice if you weren’t considered a martyr for saying so. If it was just – yeah, this is it. I’m it right now. Just hang in there with us all until we have had a coffee or a wine or some valium and we’re back to chipper happy mum ready for inspirational instagram.That you don’t need to show how perky and together you are to show you’re a good parent. That your ideas are still good and worthy even if you can’t y’know – act on them for a while.
It’s normal (I hope, that’s what I tell myself anyway) to feel tired and a bit broken. Because you’re definitely fixable. And this right now is just this right now. It’s not this forever. It’s potentially not even this for longer than a few days. It’s always infinitely better after just one half night’s sleep. But until then – just a bit done. Unapologetically so. Or at least trying not to say sorry as much.
So for now, here’s to all of us who are over it for now. But will be back on deck eventually. Only to come falling off a few weeks later. And repeat the cycle.
It’s just a grumpy old Monday. Bleak with no chance of inspirational blogging.
But – a wee bit of – this too shall pass. Even though it doesn’t feel like it right now. And this has been an appalling pep talk but it was brought to you by – no energy to bullshit you because you know what it’s like and if you don’t – you might want to know what it can be like sometimes. And a genuine wish for a bit of compassion around that. We all have our shit, and sometimes things are bleak. So consider that when you make demands of people, anybody, not just mothers.
But since this is a parenting blog – yes mothers.