Happy Bleakmas

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.

Worn and weary mothers.

15 Comments on “Happy Bleakmas

  1. This! —> “…..Even when you do finally get sleep, it’s like you have to learn how to sleep all over again….” I totally agree!! Recently I have had (somewhat) better sleeping babies/toddlers, and still I lie awake f-o-r h-o-u-r-s, or wake the 4 times a night I used to wake, and wonder why on earth I can’t go back to sleep when I am so damned tired??!!! LOL. I definitely think we have to learn to sleep all over again, once our kids (finally) start to do it a bit….

    Great post. All power to you. 🙂

  2. You are amazing, this spoke to my soul like no other blog ever has! I love you! 😉

  3. a) PYGMY HIPPOPOTAMUS! (we saw one today at the Night Safari in Chiang Mai! And its BABY PYGMY HIPPOPOTAMUS!

    b) yes, ‘this too shall pass’ seems like a reasonable thing that isn’t pretending or minimising but has a drop of solidarity and encouragement.

    c) thanks for an excellent, thoughtful post. again. xx

  4. Yes! Sleep deprivation is a tool of torturers for a reason. It right royally screws you up. There were times when I thought I was mentally ill because of chronic sleep deprivation. I’m a life long insomniac so I’m used to existing on very little sleep but that was on my own body’s terms. Having my own body’s crap sleep rhythms disrupted by the crap sleep patterns of others felt very different. It was definitely difficult to be fully functional at that time. Many days were just foggy blurs of stumbling from one thing to the next.
    It does get better. I had four babies to care for with a six year gap between oldest and youngest so I just lurched from one non-sleeping child to the next for years (I had non-sleeping babies) and it almost became my norm to feel like a zombie. I felt almost perpetually on the brink of fever. I had mild hallucinations. All because of lack of sleep. Finally I reached a point where my youngest was sleeping properly, my middles were out of their night terror phases, and my oldest had finally learned to self settle or occupy himself if he couldn’t sleep or woke early. Then I could sleep like normal me again – which is still crap but better than I had experienced for years. It was like a miracle had happened the first time I slept for 5 hours.
    Hang in there and don’t burden yourself with expectations. My husband used to tell me that if I had kept everyone alive all day then my job was done. Everything else was a bonus. So don’t allow anyone else to expect too much of you either. Somehow I think you can handle telling people to piss off.

  5. Yes, happy baby is not the issue…as I diminish, she gets chunkier and happier. So true! And every time I spend what seems to be an hour trying to get her down for a nap…either A) I lay my weary head to try and put a few pennies back into the sorely depleted sleep bank account, and she wakes up ten minutes later, or B) I decide to do something productive, but first must check facebook! and she still wakes up ten minutes later…so not only did i not nap, i did not shower, or clean something, or sew something for my business, or anything cuz im a mom to a beautiful, thriving vampire, too. ? If i survive (which we all know i will, because i have two teenagers to prove it) i’ll let you know it was all worth it. ?

  6. I’m sorry. You probably don’t want to hear that because what does sorry do really, and you’d do it all again for them in a heartbeat but I hope that someday when I am equally exhausted, someone will come along and say they understand, and that they’re sorry it’s happening. And hopefully, when they tell me to “enjoy it while it lasts” or “happy babe, happy mum” or “sleep when the baby sleeps” I will channel your strength and not punch them. Sometimes I think this is a terrible blog to read as a first time pregnant person, but you sound like me, and I love it. That, and I naively think that it will all be okay, since I have raised babies and toddlers before. How much harder can it be to nurse them and be the main guardian of their health and well-being? I’m guessing about a million times. But I’m still sorry that it’s hard. For everyone.

  7. Every. Single. Word.

    Just how I’m feeling right now. I never felt like this when there was only one sprog. Forget inspirational blogging- truthful, honest, say it like it is blogging. Made me feel better just knowing I’m not the only one feeling this way.

  8. As usual, reading your blog is making me want to throw my arms around you and never let go again and sob uncontrollably for joy of feeling understood! (I won’t, don’t worry, but thank you for writing it so perfectly.)

  9. Reading this made me feel really understood. Thank you for being honest and hilarious and great. You rock. May your babies sleep through the night without you weaning or sleep training, may your dishes always be done, etc.!

    • I’m with Petra too! And thank you for your wonderful blog! I go here and read some posts and then I don’t feel so alone in this being a sad, sleep deprived mom thing. And often your blog even manages to make me put up the energy to laugh. And for that I am grateful!

  10. This post completely resonates with me. I love to write too and would love to do it more regularly than I do. Life just has a way of just sucking it all out of you – and my children are older than yours so I can hand on heart say it doesn’t get any easier to find those pockets of time to just retreat into my own head and capture my thoughts before they all evaporate. I haven’t published a blog post for months because I’m just too worn out. Maybe other people are just better at time management? Maybe there lucky they’ve got a really supportive family network nearby? Dunno, if you work it out, tell us how to do it all, okay?

  11. yes! this was me this entire year! My brain goes a million miles an hour thinking of all the cool thinks we can do today/this week/in the future and basically since the middle of the year we have passed round the same shitty virus to each other constantly and my body has broken down in really dumb ways (needed fillings. cricked neck. bung hip) babies almost 1 and 3, crossing fingers that the summer sunshine will bring change for our whanau and yours xx