Being a mum is hard, it’s one of the hardest, time consuming, stressful and exhausting things you will ever do. Don’t get me wrong, the positives completely out weigh the difficulties but that doesn’t make the job any easier.
At times I’ve found myself flustered, upset and in tears, worrying, feeling guilty, panicking or feeling frustrated, trapped, lonely and inadequate. I’ve got angry, worked up and made mountains out of mole hills, I’ve sometimes felt suffocated by it all and found it so challenging. A lot of these times it can be short lived and over something in particular like why won’t Baby P nap or how can I solve the teeth troubles when Calpol and Teetha granules are just not cutting it. But also a lot of these times I’ve not always been able to put my finger on what exactly I’m finding hard.
I think it’s in those situations that the feeling gets compounded, I’m having a moment where I’m struggling with motherhood but it’s not anything in particular, it’s just that everyday for a week I’ve wanted to get up and wash the same floor, eat a meal without juggling little miss P on my knee, go for a wee without her sat on my knee or with the door open singing Pop Goes The Weasel so she doesn’t cry whilst I’m missing. It’s just that I want to be as good as all the mums around me seem to be. I want to not feel like the one that’s feeling fed up because for the umpteenth time that day I’m patting her bum, bouncing her up and down whilst sushing to the tune of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush or walking around the block pushing the pram because she refuses to nap! To be fair it’s rare I do feel fed up but I do get frustrated a lot because I often feel like I’m not the supermum that a lot of others are around me. My house isn’t pristine, in fact often I manage to get on top of cleaning for a day later it to be a cluttered mess again because we’ve had weaning messy mealtimes, a play on the living room floor, 2 outfit changes, the expresser to sterilise and bath toys to be carted back into the bathroom (yes, my child HAS to take Stanley the Starfish to bed with her!).
Yet really, deep down I know that this is all totally normal and par the course. I did know what I was letting myself in for and I’m in no way complaining about being a mum and how hard it is. It doesn’t hurt to get it off your chest once in awhile though does it. Especially when you’ve got a bit of cabin fever due to bad weather and baby group cancellations.
So why are others coping better than me? Truth is they’re not but they’re social media posts suggest they are. It’s a facade and I’ve always known it, insta selfies and Facebook status updates, snapchat filters and day out/date night check ins can create a wonderful picture perfect illusion and give a completely different impression to reality. Let’s face it, you don’t even need to post a picture at the moment it was taken, you add it later and people would be none the wiser! Although I’m not going to go too deep into this point as general term, it’s the problem with social media, it leads us to lead false lives and give false impressions of what really is going on. This to a certain extent is what is happening with the mum club, no one posts about the tough times like the 2 hrs it’s taken to put baby to bed with repeated trips up and down the stairs creeping the guy off the milk tray advert! No posts about the poonami all down you and baby whilst out in the park and having to do a full wardrobe change on a changing mat in the boot of your car or about the endless pile of clean washing that never gets put away but just rotates round from being on your body, into the machine, dryer then back onto the pile until you wear it again (#whoneedswardrobesanyway).
What people do post are the highlights, the best bits, the precious moments that you don’t want to forget, the bits that make it all worthwhile. The giggles, the smiles, the first steps, the chewing of toes and the sleepy snuggles. They post on the rare occasion they’ve had time to use real shampoo and not the dry stuff, when they’ve been able to slap a face on and not just pinch their cheeks in the hope of a bit colour to their tired skin tone! I openly admit I’m guilty of it too, I rarely share the tough moments, I don’t post about every tough time and difficult part, I share the good moments, the exciting times-the fun times.
Is this facade we’re all putting on helping us as new mums? Probably not. I saw an interesting video about PND and how two mum’s who had suffered from it, found that social media compounded the issue as they felt every mum around them was enjoying and coping with motherhood wonderfully whilst they were struggling on through the mound of nappies, muslin cloths and baby grows. They said it made it harder for them to reach out for fear of embarrassment, condemnation and lack of support. We’re all in the same boat though and being off on maternity leave as stay at home mum’s is a tough job, you’re going it alone everyday, trying to do the best you can by your little one whilst your hubby/partner and pre-baby friends are all at work and your main source of company is your gurgling baby who can’t offer you advice, help or stimulating conversation. Maybe a little more reality and focus on the challenges of being a mum would ease things for all mum’s in general. Maybe a little less, “keeping up with the Jones’s” or dressing up as Wonder Woman might help new mum’s cope, relax and embrace the challenges alongside the best bits.
I think this is why I’m glad I’ve a good support network of friends and family and why it’s so good that there is so much out there for you to do socially with a baby such as groups and classes. It gives you chance to see that it’s not all pretty smile and cute outfits. It gives you chance to have real conversations with real mums about real problems and not view things through social media tinted glasses. It makes you realise that every other mum is going through the same or similar issues (and unfortunately for some, worse) and that they may have an easy suggestion or solution to your issue and if not they’ve at least shared a coffee and cake with you over a moan about it.
I think sometimes that’s my biggest frustration though and the thing that gets me feeling fed up the most. That we’re all guilty of creating a different impression of motherhood. It is wonderful and I love it, I’m thoroughly enjoying being lucky enough to have time off from work to spend with my daughter and I’m making the most of every minute. However, I sometimes feel as though I should be enjoying it more, or as much as others around me, but then when I sit down and really look at it, I am, I just allow the impressions people give of their lifestyle and parenting to make me feel as if I’m not doing/achieving as much as they’re, when in reality I am.
I was talking to a newer mum than me about this and my advice to her was to see through the images created and remember that every mum with be battling through some difficulty or another, they just might not tell you about it. I told her that all the enjoyment of being a mum comes with phases and challenges. I perhaps need to listen to a bit of my own advice…and stay off social media a bit more!