Being a mum is tough. And admitting that out loud is also tough.
I’ll never forget the first night with my newborn son. He was born at about 6am and had been asleep most of the day. Of course he woke up and became unsettled just after the family visitors had left. And as the evening went on he seemed to get more unsettled and it resulted in me in tears saying ‘I’m a bad mother, I should be able to settle him’.
Of course I hadn’t slept for probably 48 hours which makes it hard to function at any time, and I had just given birth. But at that moment in time - I felt I was doing something wrong.
I think we as mothers are automatically programmed to feel like we should know what to do. No-one ever said we should, that never came up in ante-natal classes - it is something we have told ourselves.
I wish there had been a midwife around at that moment to help me see that.
The challenges continue as the children grow. and they come in various forms, again there is the ‘I should know what to do here’ thought that pops up, and the self judging ‘I can’t do it, I’m useless’, we sometimes wear the comparison lenses - ‘she’s a much better mum than me’, ‘why won’t my children behave like her children?’, ‘she’s so stylish‘. Sometimes it feels like life as a mum is so difficult and it’s only happening to me, whilst everyone else has the perfect family and perfect children.
Life got a lot more challenging when my son was diagnosed as autistic. He is not yet speaking and life is a challenge. He can’t tell us what is wrong when he is upset, and that ‘I should know how to help him and comfort him’ thoughts are always there, like that first night with my newborn. I am constantly researching ways to support him and always questioning what I am doing and whether I should be doing a different sort of therapy. I’ve had to get used to asking for help and not feeling guilty for doing so.
I am registered as my son‘s carer as he needs a lot of support. With health issues, school appointments and the added complications of Covid, it seems to be near impossible to live a ‘normal’ life that other people seem to manage.
We can’t seem to make any sort of plans as they always fall apart on the day. I take my hat off to any mums who somehow manage to work and raise their children. I don’t know how I could ever have a ‘go to work’ job - I recently volunteered for our local toddler group - just once a month - I thought ‘I could manage that’…the day comes for my monthly session…and my son’s off school so I can’t make it!
Saturday was my best friends wedding - she asked me to be bridesmaid about 18 months ago. A year ago I tried on my dress and chose my shoes. I’ve been to the Hen Do, supported my friend at her dress fittings, and made elaborate plans for family to come and
care for the children whilst my husband and I attend the wedding and have a once every three or more years, night away by ourselves in a hotel. Then the day before the wedding my son gets Covid! (‘You’ve had two years to catch Covid…why the one weekend I have plans that I cannot change!’) All plans are firmly thrown out the window…we have no care for the children and we don’t want to spread any germs to the wedding party…so cancel the hotel, have discussions with the bride to be and family members and resort to husband looking after the children and me attending the service as a guest - relinquishing my bridesmaid status! It was heartbreaking. One special weekend, planned way in advance, which once again went out the window - another challenge of motherhood!
So whilst obviously motherhood is super special and I am honoured to be able to be a mother, as it is a challenge for many, it is fine to put your hand up and say ‘you know what, this is hard’.
And please don’t be afraid to ask for help, its not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength…you’ve recognised you need help and you’ve found the strength to do something about it.
We’ve got this mums!