It’s a question I ask myself quite a bit.
Who am I and where do I fit into this equation of our family and day-to-day life?
Being a mum for the past almost-year has been an all-subsuming, totally rewarding, utterly exhausting and overall transformative process. Positive. But inarguably challenging on many levels.
As an aside about being all-consuming and mind-bending: I’m re-reading the title of this post and thinking that I’ve subconsciously started to style my language along the lines of a children’s book – we read so many each day, and my waking minutes are so focussed on looking after you. (The book it’s based on has slipped out of my mind, but the language persists. It’ll come to me, just give it about 36 hours. Dead of the night. I’ll sit bolt upright in bed and remember.)
Some days I think I’m coping really well, and all is gleeful (Wednesday). You play beautifully, sleep beautifully, reward me with fits of giggles and laughter and delight at the simplest discoveries. Only to be confronted at night with a not-so-pleasant situation with your dad, when I’m left questioning if I’ve overreacted, or have just gone slightly bonkers with lack of perspective, or just got him on a bad day at the end of a long day. Some days you’re a fright (whingey, bored, seemingly sick of me, unsettled) and I’ll get to the end of the day just exhausted but then have an absolutely lovely evening with your dad, eating and talking, and everything seems right again. Some days are all up, some days all down, and some up and down like a yo-yo in the space of an hour.
Yes, I love it. But yes, it’s also tough sometimes. No, I wouldn’t change it. Yes, I think it’s ok to talk about the fact that it IS a HARD job to do even when your heart is in it.
What else makes it hard? My general level of anxiety. I don’t think I suffer from post-natal depression, but it still sure is stressful sometimes. And a particular part of it that I personally find stressful, and having talked to a few of my mum friends in mum’s group, they have a similar experience – is that my general levels of anxiety have increased 10-fold. Anxiety about all sorts of things and nothing specific. Anything really. So when the council turns up at our house for three separate issues this week, the last one at 5pm today (a Saturday), I nearly have a meltdown. After the council guy left the house after our mutually assertive conversation at 5pm, despite parting amicably, I started shaking and nearly cried. I think in a previous existence it would have just been easier for me to say “ce la vie. Some neighbour is for some reason harbouring a grudge about something and has lodged as many spurious and random complaints about our house as they possibly can but whatever”. But I find it harder to do than ever. (So I phoned council and complained about the overly assertive office they sent).
The days fly by. Up and down.
The constant in all of this is how much time I spend looking after you, and how I still find it a struggle to push to find the time in the week to have to myself. I’m not sure that 20 minutes in the day when you’re sleeping counts, I need to find the time for me that’s a bit more planned and not quite so ‘snatched’. Though I do admit that one of the best ‘snatched’ moments I do find time to enjoy is a quick soak in the bath (maybe once every two weeks) or a few extra minutes of peace under the hot steaming shower. A regular mini ‘me-time’.
Where is the mother?
So, where is the mother? I’m here. I’m me and I’m still me. But just changed slightly, with a different perspective on life and different priorities. And it’s hard for me to get used to the new me too. So I’m still working it out (which goes on your whole life, but this past nearly-year has been the biggest, most rapid and most challenging ever).
This mother’s day I’m going to enjoy my day. I’m going to try to relax into the ‘being a mum’. But next week, I’m going to try to get out to yoga in the week. All by myself. With me. And if I do, great. If I don’t, great, it just didn’t work out. But I plan to try the same thing the next week and the week after that. And still enjoy my hot showers in between.
But tomorrow I’m going to eat the lovely breakfast in bed that I know you’ll cook me (perhaps with a little help from Dad). And relax, and enjoy both the ups and downs of being a mum.
I love you!
P.S. I was wrong on my 36 hour prediction. It’s “Where is the Green Sheep”…. That is the book and voice I can hear when I read the title of this post. That Green Sheep, she’s fast asleep. Like you.
A large thank-you!
P.P.S. Thanks to everybody who has helped me keep my sanity throughout this year. Mostly your Dad, but everyone else too. From the close family and friends who’ve given positive encouragement and support endlessly and generously; to the random people in the supermarket who’ve given me a friendly smile or a nice passing word. Particularly to all my other new-mum (and mostly new) friends (real and virtual) who have commiserated, commemorated, shared, laughed, cried, fought with their partners and wiped poo at the same time. Happy first mother’s day to you too!