Today on Facebook, I came across a post that was going viral. It was from a friend to her ‘mummy friend’ about how she feels about watching her beloved bestie as a mother – proper heart wrenching stuff to know that somebody who you used to get drunk with every Saturday night notices these life changing moments that has made you an amazing person and mum.
We often worry when we become parents that our friends will forget about us, replace us, not understand that you no longer have the time, money and even energy to behave how you used to before children. Luckily, my own best friend has been considerate enough to know that as much as I want a break from time to time, my ‘party every weekend’ days are now over! She’s my sons godmother and now a part of my family.
Dear knackered parent
It’s currently 3am and my sons sleeping pattern is out of whack due to teething and being a typical monstrous toddler. I can hear him squealing through the monitor, keeping me awake because I’m unable to drift to sleep even with the sound of him through the walls. I’ve made the mistake of letting him sleep for too long during the day after a bad nights sleep because I was knackered too and wanted to sleep. Yes we have had pyjama days on the days I can barely manage to get myself dressed. No I can’t remember what I look like with my hair done nicely. Sound familiar to you?
Do you know that each moment that passes in your daily life you live for someone else? People underestimate how draining it can be don’t they? Sure we can make sure that they are clean and fed, but we also encourage them to walk, talk, learn, we discipline, we research ways to help them along to their ‘vital’ milestones and if we don’t think they are reaching them, we worry. We worry that we aren’t doing enough and we worry about the worst that could possibly happen. Your train thought goes from 0 to 100 in a split second. Each meal time can be unpredictable. Is it going to end up on the floor? Am I going to have to play a game with each mouthful so that they eat even though it takes an hour and a half? Are they eating enough? Am I feeding them enough? They’ve slept longer during their nap today, should I not let them sleep for over an hour anymore? If I wake them then they’ll be too ratty to eat dinner and then they won’t sleep because they’re hungry. How do I get my toddler to understand that hitting is not okay? They’ve hit me ten times today alone. Do other people find me boring now I’m a parent? Am I not making enough effort with people? Why has this person stopped making effort with me? I haven’t brushed my hair today, surely my partner must think I’m lazy? I have half an hour until they get home and I haven’t had time to do the housework which has piled up massively. How can they even stand me now that I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost my slimmer body, my hair is a mess, I have dark circles under my eyes and this tshirt smells like bananas and apple juice? They’ve come home after a long day and now they’re having to help me cope. Shouldn’t I be able to do that by now? Would it be rude to ask them if they can help with dinner whilst I finally get a shower? Bedtime finally. I’ll let them sleep because as soon as our heads hit the pillow, the kid is up for half the night again. The cycle continues…
You do this AND more every day without even thinking about how you’re feeling about YOU anymore. You forget that you need to think of you and instead, worry about what you could possibly be doing wrong according to everyone else. Stop it! A person who can get up every day and put someone before themselves without a complaint is strong and astounding. You’re not just sitting around and relaxing; you’re being a tutor, a Google lunatic, a spouse, a parent, a friend and more importantly, you’re doing your damn best. That’s what we all do.
Parenting doesn’t come with a guide. There’s no textbook. The ones who DO write books and guides are usually full of bullshit anyway that make you feel inadequate because they’re unrealistic. Parenting is about making mistakes, making hundreds of mistakes, and learning from them until your last dying breath. You do things that work for your family and you try to make it as perfect as possible. How about stop trying to make things perfect? Stop comparing yourself to the woman who uploads thirty pictures of her spotless home, made up face and smiling children every single day and realise that she also has flaws – you don’t know how she manages to do all of those things when you barely have time to have a cup of tea but does it matter? You’ll find your way eventually. Things fall into place. Don’t rush it. A happy, healthy, clever, clean and fed child is more important than worrying that your life isn’t as spotless as you’d have liked it to have been. Look around, do you see any mess? If your answer is yes, then that’s proof that you’ve had one busy day and a happy day for the child. If your answer is no, then you’ve had a day of achieving your housework goals whilst looking after your kids. Both answers mean that you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Your keeping your home alive. YOU ARE THE GLUE.
You know those moments where your (working) partner gets stressed at your toddler behaving naughty? They’re not used to being around them 24/7 so it bothers them that little bit more sometimes. Don’t resent them for it. Respect them for not sugarcoating how ‘easy’ it is. Understand that they’re vocalising their struggles just like you do. Finally, give yourself a pat on the back for feeling the way they do each and every day without letting it make you feel like it’s going to break you. You’re a determined, passionate person who needs to encourage yourself more often. You need to admit that it’s not unchallenging or effortless and forget the parents who get butt hurt that you’re not making it sound like a blissful experience. You go through this every day and still unconditionally love your kids, you’d never change having them despite the occasional moments of despair.
Don’t edit the truth but don’t forget to appreciate what you have and who you are. Who you are to your child and who you are to everyone else!
When my family have come round and I have laundry hanging up anywhere we can fit it, toys all over the floor, myself running around trying to move things for everyone to walk around freely, looking and feeling frazzled… they don’t notice all of that before noticing my happy little boy smiling up at them in his smart shirt and waving excitedly. They see him as a credit to his parents and a content boy, they don’t expect an unrealistic, immaculate life.
There will always be something to fluster about and there will always be something you’ll want to change; if you’re desperate for change then take your time and find your way. But never think you’re failing. Could you live with anyone else 24/7 so closely by choice and still love each day that starts and ends?
You’ll be hard on yourself again. We all are. But don’t forget that it’s just that – YOU are being hard on YOU. Nobody else shares the same judgement of yourself so feel like crap, question yourself for a while and then bounce back like you always do. Don’t waste precious years anxiously worrying, cherish each innocent moment before one day, they don’t need you as much anymore. Create happy memories whenever you can.
You are so worth the happiness.
A knackered mum that needs to take her own advice from time to time.
P.S – the last time I had an “Am I an awful mother” moment, my friend sent me this inspiring post it note doodle that she made especially for me. Safe to say it made me smile and it totally worked.