The realities of motherhood

Things have been really hard over the past few months.

And I’ve shared it with you in bits, ranting about how hard things are right now, how I’m lowering my standards to cope and accepting that things are hard.

I’ve been a bit worried (and so have people around me) that I was going to crack and I asked myself whether I was going through a delayed post-natal depression.

Things were unbelievably hard.

So hard that I’ve found myself wishing that I wasn’t a mum.

And if I’m honest, going a bit further, wishing that I didn’t have Jenson.

This latter point feels a lot more worrying to me because it wasn’t just a wishing for times gone by, but wishing that the son I adore wasn’t in existence.

This wasn’t how I knew I felt when I thought about it logically.

I love him.

I’d give my life for him.

I truly believe he’s here to teach me as much as I’m here to guide and support him as he develops.

But I felt so depleted, with nothing to give, and I noticed how he had started to bring less of a smile to my face. A smile that had always come regardless of the hour he awoke or the naughtiness of his actions.

Why am I telling you this?

Because it’s a narrative which is not spoken about much in the world.

Parenting is talked about honestly among good friends, but there’s not a dialogue in society about how hard it is to be a parent.

There’s the truth-based comedy about parenthood found in ‘hurrah for gin‘ or the ‘unmumsy mum‘. It allows us to laugh about waiting for 5pm to reach for a glass of wine to take the blunt edges off motherhood. We smile at the raggedy mother with her little despots who refuse to eat anything other than beige processed food.

But it doesn’t go as far to say ‘seriously, being a mother can push people over the brink’. (Or at least, this is not what I’ve seen in the parts of it I’ve read).

We remain mostly silent as a society about the realities of motherhood:

How far it pushes you.

How serious an endeavour it is.

How challenging it can be.

And in this silence comes a lack of understanding, a lack of support, a lack of honesty.

There are the reassuring looks of other mums when they see other children in meltdown and the ‘how’s it going?’ that we give out to new mums. But there is the sense (at least from the experience I’ve had) that once the newborn stage is over – with the lack of sleep, poonami explosions and trials of breastfeeding – that you should just be able to get on with it.

And in my experience, this is a relatively easy stage compared with what comes after.

Don’t get me wrong, I found the newborn stages hard, but not nearly as hard as the shuffling around of my life to make space for the desires and wishes of my son as he starts to know what he wants.

Now life is dictated by his desires, his wishes, his needs.

And mine have to come second for the most-part, which is so hard if you’re like me and need space and time alone to stay sane. If you’re opinionated and have wishes of your own.

At the early baby stages, Jenson was my shadow and I was allowed to pretty much do as I wanted.

But now, even when I get to meet up with other mums and friends, I’m only able to be half-present as my mind is scanning for hazards to Jenson – where he is, what he might do to himself, how he is interacting with other children.

And yet I’m left to get on with it.

There’s no support apart from the support I cultivate around me, risking other people’s judgement as I dare to say how I sometimes wish I wasn’t a mum.

How I sometimes wish that I didn’t have Jenson.


I thought long and hard about sharing these thoughts with you, dear friend, because they seem like a slap in the face to all those I know who wish beyond measure to have a child and are struggling to do so.

And I’m half-worried that, in a Handmaid’s Tale-like twist, these words will be used against me in the future. Judging me unfit to be a mother in the same way that June and Luke’s relationship was invalidated because of their past.

But I want to change the narrative that we hold as a culture.

I want to see more honest, open conversations about the challenges of parenthood at all stages.

I want us to be honest as a society about how hard parenthood is – it’s the most difficult job I’ve ever had.

And I believe that starts with people speaking out about their truth.

Thankfully I’m starting to feel more like my own self, due in part to the support of my family and close friends and in part due to speaking up more and saying what I need from my husband.

Thankfully I’m wishing less that I wasn’t a mum and am grateful for having my son.

Thankfully I’m able to smile more.

But it doesn’t take away from the truths I’ve shared with you in this post. Motherhood is the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to go through.

And I know it will continue to be challenging along the way.

I know I’ll continue to need the support of family and friends to get me through it.

I hope if you’re also struggling, you’re able to share how you’re feeling with those close to you.

Or I hope that, at least, my words help you to feel less alone.

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Four months in

I’m sat here in the dead of night (my greatest blogging time since the arrival of my son!) thinking about parenthood. The four month sleep regression has hit my household with force, coupled with potential teething, and things are pretty tough.

Not a ‘I can’t cope’ tough but a ‘this is really unpleasant’ tough. I’m tired, it sucks being up in the night so much and am feeling slightly buffeted around from the tremendous highs of love that I feel for this little guy and the deep lows of feeling stretched beyond my means and super crabby from lack of sleep.

And here are some of my mid-night thoughts about it all…sorry if it comes across as ranty, but here it is!

You do what you can do

I spend a lot of time walking around with Jenson as that’s when he seems the happiest. Able to stare at the world and take it all in, he’s pretty content this way. I think that I’m setting myself up for years of having to be constantly on the go and already feel the pavement pounding in my knees. But as a good friend recently joked, he’s not going to be 16 and still need to be walked to sleep. You do what you can do to get through the current situation and that’s ok.

Parenting books are bullshit

Well, not all of them. I’ve read a lovely one that’s called ‘the kind sleeping book’ and is really helpful in thinking about sleep in general. But the ones I read before are irrelevant and unhelpful. They peg babies into generalised groups and is about as helpful as sweeping statements like “all men are bad at X” or “all HR professionals are ‘people’ people”. Nope, babies are individual and you need to treat them as such.

Intuition is key

How I parent is as individual as how I decide to dress or what beliefs I hold. As much as all babies are different, all parents are different. So there’s no manual that can tell you what to do. You just have to use your intuition.

For example, you’ll know if you read my blog about how Jenson has struggled to put on weight. He’s in the 9th percentile (9th lowest weight grouping based on all baby weight) but is as bright as a button, feeds lots and isn’t overly sleepy or lacking in energy. I’ve been worried by his weight but I know in my gut that he’s well. I know that he’s very vocal and if he was hungry would be constantly crying as he did at the start when he had a tongue tie and couldn’t feed enough.

So I’m learning that I need to trust my intuition because there’s so much in the world, so much contradictory information, that could cause me to worry if I don’t trust myself and follow my gut.

Sleep when you can

I can’t really sleep in the day because Jenson usually naps while I’m I’m on the go, walking somewhere around town. But with sleep becoming rarer and rarer in my life I’ve started to go to bed earlier. And when my bedtime creeps to 10:30 or later I invariably regret my decision to watch one more episode of whatever it is I’m devouring.

To get through the next few months, especially the return to work with a baby who is still co-sleeping, I’ll need to put my sleep first. Even if that means I do little other than just be.

Opinions aren’t facts

A friend of mine, as I was telling her about not feeling able to be physically affectionate to Gregg as much as I used to be, indicated that I should be putting more effort in with him.

And I should.

But I didn’t need to hear those words from her or feel judged during a really trying period of life. As my good friend Charlie said to me yesterday, it’s still so early on, I am allowed to feel ‘touched out’ after a day of carrying, cuddling and holding Jenson close to me in a sling.

This time will pass and we’ll get back to where we were in time. Yes, I should make more effort with Gregg, but I know he understands the pressure I’m feeling and it’s ok if I can’t be the perfect wife at this time in my life.

Selfishness is ok

I’ve dragged myself out of the house sometimes when I’ve felt I would have preferred a day snuggled up or when Jenson was napping. And when I’ve been around friends and family who have taken Jenson off my hands for a bit, I’ve been on edge, hoping they’re ok and coping with my little diva prince.

I also probably let people visit far too soon when Jenson was born. Time when I was trying to get my balance as a new mum and was still feeling vulnerable and unsteady and needed to just cocoon.

During these first few months, my one regret is that I haven’t been selfish enough. I haven’t said ‘no’ enough or put my needs and those of Jenson first.

It’s strange got me to think “I wish I had been more selfish” but is also really telling of how hard it is to be a new mum.

Even at 2am, one smile from Jenson makes the world right

Being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The simplest thing – play, feed, burp, change a nappy, sing to, kiss and cuddle, sleep, repeat – but also the hardest.

It’s all made worthwhile though when I see his cheeky grin at 5am, when I hear him coo or take a new step in the world.

I’m head over heels for him and no sleeplessness or challenging times can take that away from me.