To the Mummy in the car behind me at the traffic lights – one eye on the red light willing it to change quickly, the other eye on the rearview mirror craning to see your little person who is screaming in the backseat, making your heart race, your panic rise. As you fumble to find a dummy and awkwardly ‘rock’ the capsule whilst desperately trying not to dislocate your shoulder in the process. Though you’d take a dislocated shoulder over a screaming baby trapped in a carseat behind you.
I see you.
To the heavily pregnant Mummy waddling through Big W, making the most of the mid-season Bonds sale – stocking up on neutral magic suits. I see you wince as you take each and every step, you shuffle and I know the burden your pelvis feels. I long to say to you that the pain will almost certainly go away as soon as your new baby makes their presence fully known in this world. That searing grinding and constant ache will literally disappear with that final push and first cry.
Only to be replaced by new and different pains.
To the Mummy looking at me up and down in my overly bright workout tights and funky trainers whilst you simultaneously and self-conciously adjust your sagging and ill-fitting grey marle track-pants and man fit t-shirt, know that I have been you. For almost three years I lived in my yoga pants believing that I was doing something about regaining my pre-pregnancy body. Don’t look at me with envy or jealousy – see me as your future and know that soon the time will come when your babies are less needy and your ‘me time’ less guilt-ridden, that one day exercise will feel good again, especially if you’ve had the right advice and support along the way.
I see your husband look at me too.
Know that I didn’t ask for that, want nor appreciate it. Part of me wants to knee him in the groin for doing that while he is walking next you, precious woman who has carried his children into this world and who on an hourly basis spends all of her time attending to his and their needs. So part of me wants to explain all of this to him – tell him how unfair and unkind it is of him to make you feel less than, and part of me wants to say to you “ignore him, he is just noticing bright and sparkly – nothing of value and it means nothing to him – he is wired this way and it says nothing of the love he has for you. He doesn’t see the wobble and the sag, doesn’t understand the bone-tiredness. He wants you still and longs to be wanted and therefore by extension, loved in return. He wants you alone and wants to feel top of your priority list.”
I want to hug you and explain that I have been there too. That this phase of your relationship is so very hard and I hope you navigate it better than I did.
To the Mummy of the two little people in the shopping trolley at the supermarket being held to ransom by your toddler and at the mercy of your baby. This I know too. Praying that your baby will sleep through the whole shop because otherwise you will just have to ditch the half full trolley and find somewhere to feed him. Know that it is entirely OK to do whatever you need to do in order to get the supplies you need to provide meals for your family. If it requires letting your toddler eat some of the grapes before they’ve been paid for – do it. If you have let them have a new ball (that they don’t need) or eat the bread or sing “Let it go” at the top of their little lungs – do it!
When I catch your eye, know that it’s in complete sympathy, not in judgement. The face I strive to portray is trying to tell you that I know I’m shopping in luxury without children hanging off me, but only because mine are at school now – I have done my time in the trenches – I have done shop after shop with one and then two children in tow. It’s a look of empathy and I’m desperate to say that this too shall pass.
And to the single Mummy trying to be everyone and everything to your life’s work, understand that I truly know your loneliness – how you long for someone else to shoulder the burden, to help with bedtime, bathtime, anytime. To have someone to ask if you’re doing the right thing, just to be there to make it all a little less hard, a little less relentless, unending and just a little less lonely.
I know how it feels to be judged by others – those smug 2.4 perfect happy families – to feel somehow less than when you are actually having to be so much more than, to everyone, all the time. It doesn’t really matter how you came to be in this space – the path to now is yours and yours alone – just hold on to the fact that the future will be brighter, easier and not quite so alone. You’ve got this.
To all of you Mummys, I see you.
And I know you. I have been you and I am you. When you look at me you won’t know it – maybe I even look like I have my shit together – with my pretty nails, no wedding rings, no children in my belly, pram or holding my hand. You see me at the cafe enjoying my hot long black in solitude and peace and think I am free and without responsibilities or commitments, that I have no clue how hard it is for you right now. But I do. My heart is full of compassion and I long to be able to rock your baby for you so you can enjoy that entire cup of coffee while it’s still hot, or to do some colouring-in with your toddler to entertain them for five peaceful minutes for you.
It’s hard these days not to feel judgement in everyones eyes.
Can’t we all just acknowledge that this motherhood gig is tough sometimes and that none of us have got all the answers all of the time? Just a little bit more kindness and understanding, a lot more love.
Have you helped another mummy lately? SHARE with us in the comments.
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