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.
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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..
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.
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?