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We didn’t have our child until later in life, and for many years people have told me I would make a wonderful mum, I’m a natural with kids, or so they said…

Then I had a child of my own!

I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a wonderful and supportive partner, and our child, most of the time, is a joy, but…

Not every day is hunky dory and as perfect as it seems on the outside, or as perfect as those perfect mums with the most perfect kids and constantly perfect Facebook statuses, of which I am definitely NOT one.

I worry about the mums who struggle every day, who aren’t “natural” at motherhood, or who are doing it alone. I worry about the women out there who never wanted children, but by some mean fate, or otherwise, have a child and are hating every minute of it. I worry about the mums suffering from Post Natal Depression or any other type of illness, mental or physical.

Why? Because… (And here comes my confession!) Motherhood is TOUGH! And when you’ve had very minimal sleep, it can be overwhelmingly tougher, so tough that…

I don’t know about the other non-perfect mums out there, but…

I’ve had thoughts of packing a bag and disappearing long into the night on a ghost train, leaving a note of sorrow and self-disappointment, because some nights are just so despairingly hard.

I read a blog recently, that said, “You’ll want to kill them, but don’t”. I didn’t realise just how true that statement would be until the teething process was reignited by the molars.

I don’t want to just kill my child, (although I would never hurt him in reality), I have thoughts of murdering my partner in his sleep. His crime…

Snoring, or breathing loudly, keeping me awake as much as our child, or on some days for just being in existence.

I have never known an internal rage quite like that of motherhood, a rage that fills you with thoughts of putting pillows over the heads of everyone you love, just so you can get a moments peace and quiet, and hopefully some quality sleep!



We try to pretend that motherhood is a perfect joy, a magical moment in life full of love, and for some of us it is, just not all the time. We try to pretend those other times don’t exist, but..

They do!

So who is at fault here? Society? Other parents? Us?

Why is it mums have this incessant need to pretend everything is OK, and that they love EVERY single moment of motherhood.

Is this dangerous? Does it make the struggling mums, feel like they have no-one to turn to, bottle up feelings of failure and frustration? And for those mums really struggling, is this the cause of self-harm or child abuse?

The self fulfilling prophecy of, “I am a bad mother”, “I am the only one that feels this way”…

Are we letting these mums down by pretending motherhood is a beautiful moment, that fills you with so much love, your heart could burst.

But then..

Love hurts too, doesn’t it?

It hurts when you have had no more than 4-6 hours sleep in the last 4 days, it hurts when your child is so frustrated they don’t know how to communicate other than scream for hours, it hurts when you are at your wits-end in trying to work out why they are screaming and having a tantrum, it hurts to feel so helpless.

Motherhood can be one of the most beautiful experiences a woman can have, but it can also be one of the worst nightmares. Even more so when everyone around you seems to have the perfect child that sleeps all night.

Well our child was one of those until he got sick and we spent weeks in and out of hospital with each test coming back negative. Then we went overseas and he cut 4 teeth in 4 weeks and was awake every 30 – 45 minutes or so drinking 4 – 5 bottles of milk every night. I guess he needed the calcium?!

Six months have passed since our return home, and he still hasn’t found his groove back to sleeping through, bar the odd occasion, so most nights I am up anywhere from 2 – 8 times.

Everyone around you seems to become a specialist in sleep training and you get advice from all corners of the earth telling you what you need to do, but none of them are walking in your shoes.

There are the sleep school advocates and the ‘cry it out’ fans, mothers that tell you about how perfect their child has been since they hired a sleep trainer. One mother even told me how she used to let her child cry until they threw up and she encouraged it because they soon stopped after that; then she used to tie string to the door handle and another handle nearby so the child could open the door, but not wide enough to escape, apparently they soon stopped head butting the door after that too.

I’m sorry but I’m not that mum…

Yes, I have days where I am so tired I am the one that wants to throw up, or could walk around with a whole packet of tissues stuffed into my cleavage because I am so emotional and teary, or want to curl up on the couch and do nothing thanks to a pounding and foggy head. But…

I know that this too shall pass and one day he will sleep and I will regain my ability to  unwind at night and fall into a deep, deep sleep.

After all, at the end of the day, when it all becomes too much, I can walk out of the room, the house, go for a drive, get some air, but he is trapped inside a toddler’s body with limited verbal skills.

My child deserves not to be shaken or thrown, no matter how much I want to throw him up against a brick wall some nights, he deserves to be loved, he deserves a mum that can treat him gently and keep him safe.

There are the night where he cuddles up tight and looks into my eyes and smiles and my heart melts for him; then all those other nights fade away.

Yes my neck is out and shoulder hurts from twisting and lying in impossible positions just so he can be comfortable when he wants to wrap himself around me, because, truth be told, I love the closeness, the cuddle and love he emits during those moments.

Instead of beating myself up for being the mum that is a failure for having a child that doesn’t sleep through the night, I congratulate myself for allowing the family to survive another day.

I haven’t given him away to a stranger when he has had a tantrum in the street, I’ve kept him safe and loved him despite his best efforts to beat me up or destroy my soul.

Motherhood is tough, parenting is tough and if more people admitted how hard it can be some days, maybe some mothers wouldn’t be quite so set up for failure.

I might be exhausted beyond anything I have ever experienced before, but I am focusing on every smile, every sweet sounding giggle, every hug, every kiss and every act of pure love that my child has, because…

One day he will be a man and have his own life and I will miss the sound of his laughter, the smell of his skin when he is holding me tight, the brushes of his lips and slobbery kisses; even when I am gone I want him to know, I loved him the best way I knew how.

Make sure you surround yourself with those that love you for who you are inside and out, friends or family, for your journey ahead will be bumpy and you need to know exactly where your support networks lie.

How do you cope with sleep deprivation?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
  • Sleep deprivation is like hell on earth. I wasn’t prepared for how badly I would cope with loss of sleep.

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  • Sure. I can cope quite well with little sleep though.

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  • yes, just yes. I a surviving on roughly 2 hours sleep night. Husband snores after quite rudely falling asleep as soon as his head hits the pillow, I have a 7 month old that wants to be held all night, every night and a 2.5 year old that doesn’t like to sleep all night either, to teenagers that thankfully like to sleep and 3 step children every other weekend that also thankfully like sleep. But these little two will be the death of me, my hair even started falling out!

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  • yes, nothing really prepares you for the first few months. That was the one dread I had going in for number two.

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  • I remember back to when I had my eldest. She was a nightmare…or should I say that time was a nightmare. I know it wasnt my daughters fault but I honestly felt so alone because I was alone.
    My dauhgter honestly cried all day. If I managed to get her to sleep she would only sleep for 10mins..if i was lucky. I have no idea how such a small baby could have such staying power. I took her to several Doctors because people kept telling me something must be wrong. Doctors told me she had colic and would be fine by 3 months. So I prayed for 3 months to come quickly. My husband was zero help. He would go to work from 9 to 5. I would start working on dinner first thing in the morning whenever I could get the baby to sleep for a few minutes. I would chop meat, prep veggies, etc. I did my best to always have a meal cooked for when he walked through the door and he would sit and eat while I tried to get the baby to sleep. Once he had finished dinner he refused to take the baby so I could have dinner so by the time I would get her to sleep my dinner was dried out and I couldnt eat it. I ended up weighing next to nothing. I was a stickfigure because I just didnt have time to eat. I was operating on about 4hrs sleep a day.
    There was no one to help and I was alone. I look back on those times and I have no idea how i managed. It went on for a year.

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  • A very interesting take on being a mum and doing it sleep deprived. I didn’t think I had to impress anyone, so if I was tired and mad, that’s what they got, bad luck

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  • I really related to this article. Motherhood is hard and can be a struggle at time. I also try to pretending everything is ok to everyone (but hubby) as I don’t want people to think I am failing as a mother.
    I want to be the best mother I can be to my son but boy it is hard when they scream for hours on end.

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  • I confess a couple of times I have needed to close my eyes because my son wont sleep at night hes been diagnosed with insomnia. I put educational nursery rhymes and put him in the pram and i close my eyes just to reboot so i can actually function through the day.

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  • its great to read this

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  • Coffee

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  • I’m currently a sleep deprived mum of a 2.5 year old and a 11 month old. On a good night, i wake up twice to settle both kids down (they share a room as we have a small place). And on a bad night, i wake up up to 6 times and spend 3/4 of the night asleep on my little girls bed.
    In the morning, i have no energy to make breakfast for myself and end up snacking throughout the day till evening comes and i make dinner.

    Being sleep deprived causes major headaches and nausea. I have a constant feeling that i need to throw up.

    Then i sit and imagine what its going to be like when the kids are off to school and i can sneak in a nap.

    Reply

  • Great article! Made me feel normak and had me laughing – cause it’s all true! Thank you

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  • oh those early days are A BLUR


    • yes i appreciate the really decent length read here

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  • I think it can be really hard to find a balance between celebrating the good times and acknowledging the bad.

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  • enjoy every moment, it seriously is a one time thing kids grow times change, enjoy being tired, think of it as a hangover with finger-paint!

    Reply

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