Motherhood: Keeping It Real

This Mother’s Day, I’m keeping it real.

No matter if you have a robust support network or none at all, no matter if your workplace is family-friendly or would rather its employees work as though they don’t have personal lives to go home to, no matter if you consider your parenting style “traditional” or “respectful” or anything in between – being a mother is HARD.

It’s even harder if you’re, like me, someone who absolutely doesn’t fit the idealised mould of the self-sacrificial *mummy/martyr (*delete as appropriate).

I like my life. I liked it a lot before I had a child. I like it a lot now, but in no small part because there are significant parts of said life that do not involve my child. Which, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t mean I love her any less than the next mother.

About three years ago, I discovered the depths of my capacity for resentment. Sitting by my wailing infant’s crib in the middle of the night, I thought, you ingrate. I grew her in my own body for 39 weeks and 6 days; I laboured hours to birth her. In the process I wrecked parts of my body you’re apparently not meant to discuss in polite company. And I was completely and utterly fed up with her inability to show any sort of recognition for my efforts.

It’s funny, isn’t it? A grown-ass woman bearing a grudge against a tiny baby for being ungrateful.
Except it isn’t really.

Weeks and months have gone by and the physical challenges of new motherhood have gotten much easier. But then came new pitfalls and potholes.
Here’s a tasty nutritious meal I made – nope.
Here’s a fun activity I got us out of the house for – nope.
Here are my expert-approved tactics for calming you down when you’re shrieking like a banshee – lol, SO MUCH NOPE.

And so I’m renewing my commitment to always and forever do what works. Because I still believe that the right thing to do in any tough parenting situation is the thing that brings me and my child a step closer to being better people and a closer-knit family.

Not the thing that looks best on Instagram.
Not the thing that will gain me the most approval from the peanut gallery.
Not the thing that child development gurus say is best for my child, but which may cost me my sanity in the process.

It’s easier said than done. It is so, so hard, some days, to find the emotional energy to make the tough call and be a disciplinarian when all I want is to be Fun Mummy. At the end of a 10-hour workday, to come home to a howling banshee child to whom I have to put my foot down and exact what I think is the right measure of tough love. Taking away privileges is a useful way to show a three-year-old you mean business, but the resultant heartbreak is also pretty effective at making you question at a very visceral level if your child will ever love you again.

This Mother’s Day, my gift to my fellow mums is this: I give us all permission to acknowledge that this gig is HARD, that we are doing our best, and that it’s okay to not have everything (or anything) properly figured out. I wish us the courage and the strength of conviction to trust our gut. I wish us all the wisdom to troubleshoot each new challenge that motherhood throws our way. I wish us more love than we think ourselves capable of giving.

I wish us the confidence that our children will one day recognise that we did the best we could, forgive us for where we didn’t do right by them, and – with any luck – still love us enough to visit us in our retirement villages.

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