To the struggling mum,
I see you.
I see you struggling and I want to tell you that its going to be ok.
I know you hide behind happy smiles and amusing anecdotes as you try and convince yourself that you’re ‘fine’ but I see you and you are not alone.
You wonder what is wrong with you that you’re not enjoying the most important thing to ever happen in your life. You worry that if you tell people how you’re really feeling deep down inside that they will think you’re ungrateful, selfish, cold and God forbid, a bad mum.
I know you’re exhausted, I know you’re bone weary and I know you pray for five minutes, just five minutes of peace and quiet. You want some time to yourself to just be you again. Then when you finally get it, its not enough and so you feel overwhelmingly guilty.
I want to tell you that its going to be ok. Its ok to wonder some days what possessed you to ever want children. Its ok to daydream about your previous life and wish that you could live it for just one more day. Its ok to wonder if you’re really cut out for this mum stuff anyway. And its OK to not love every second of parenthood.
When you’re standing in the dark at 4am humming the same lullaby for what feels like the hundredth time, feeling like you’re going slowly insane and thinking to yourself ‘I can’t do this anymore’, know that you are not alone. You are not alone in this struggle, we are all with you. All of us struggling mums and we salute you for digging just a little deeper to a strength you never knew you had and for just keeping going. You are strong, you are brave, you are enduring and you are enough.
Being a parent is HARD. You have lived your whole life up until now putting your own needs first. You have always had the option to walk away from something if it’s too hard… or at least take a break. But you can’t ask your child for a day off and you can’t ever forget you are a parent, not even for one minute. Its the biggest change and the biggest challenge you will ever face in your life and I think its normal to mourn for the easy life every now and then.
The worry is suffocating. You worry about breastfeeding, about not breastfeeding, whether you speak to baby enough, if you should be singing more, should you be cooking your own food, is baby getting enough stimulation, should they be sleeping more/ less, should I be saying no… should I be saying yes??? Discipline, no discipline, cry it out, co-sleeping? The guilt is enough to eat you from the inside out and you worry that whatever choice you make its going to be the wrong one. It’s going to scar your children for life!
But whatever path you choose, you do it because you believe that it what is best, best for your children and best for you. You will feel overwhelmingly guilty about anything and everything, you worry that you are not doing a good enough job but the fact that you are worrying means you are doing your job. Let me tell you now that you only worry about the things in life that are important to you so its understandable that you drive yourself demented worrying about the biggest thing you’ve ever done and will do. But please please believe me when I tell you that you’re doing great. I know that I don’t know you but if you suffer the worry and the guilt, they make you strive to do better and as long as you work to do the best for your kids… you are amazing.
Everything you are doing is all just to make your child happy, to make them comfortable to make them know they are loved. I used to believe that my children didn’t love me, that I didn’t deserve their love, that I wasn’t good enough, but I slowly realised that they were unaware of my internal struggle. They didn’t know how exhausted I was or how guilty I felt if they had chips for tea AGAIN. They didn’t notice that I put the TV on rather than discuss the meaning of life for the third time that day. They didn’t care that their lunch wasn’t home made and they brushed off my lost temper over spilt yoghurt like it was no big deal (which only added to the frustration!). And why? Because they know that they are loved. Kids don’t care about tomorrow, they think only of today. I know it is our job to worry about their tomorrow but I think if they go into it armed with our love then that is the best weapon we can give them. They can live their lives safe and secure in the knowledge they are loved and they will adore you for that reason most of all. Its not because of the organic fish cakes that took 3 hours to make or the expensive toys that take hours to put together only for the box to become the favourite. Even if they don’t see or understand your struggle, they know you care enough to struggle and to worry and to feel guilty. And for them that is enough, more than enough.
We all have bad days, we all have selfish days, we all have days that we wish would end a little sooner, but there are times when you have a good day, when your children genuinely make you laugh out loud and when you put them to bed thinking ‘Yes! Today I nailed being mum’. They will make you proud and they will make you weep (in both ways). The moments of sheer joy and happiness can be fleeting at times but hold tight to them because they make all the dark times worthwhile. Even if you don’t feel that way just now, hold on because there is light at the end of the tunnel. There are many many brighter days ahead and you will be that bright shining light for your children because no matter how bad a job you think you’re doing I can guarantee they think you’re the best mum in the world. And its true.
From a mum who has struggled every day but is coming out the other side.