Loving The Haters

Listen, when I decided to write my blog I knew (because I’d spoken to A LOT of women with babies) that what I wanted to say would resonate in the deepest, darkest corners of the souls of a lot of mothers. Being a new mum is hard and lonely; it will push you beyond any of your boundaries and it will make you question your ability to achieve even the most simplest of tasks…but this blog starts from one simple, unassailable truth: it is all worth it.

With hindsight and with perspective you can see just how worth it it all is but when you first have your baby, you don’t have an ounce of hindsight or a slither of perspective. You are an exhausted, overwhelmed, hormonal, physcially mashed up mess and you will struggle. You won’t even know how hard it was or how much you struggled until you look back on it and think to yourself, “Who was that woman who survived and existed in those first few weeks?”

As the days and the weeks pass on you’ll find your feet. The realisation of the relentlessness that smacked you full-on in the face at first and sent you into a spiral of unspeakable panic will shrink down the emotional telescope into focus and you’ll realise that it is true: it gets easier.

Every single day is slightly (if not always noticeably) easier than the one before and the more time that passes the more the shift changes from pure worry and fear and exhaustion to coping, the occasional success and even enjoyment. So, to go back to my previous point, there is no doubt that it is all worth it, that motherhood is the single most wonderful thing you will ever do and that having a child is the one thing you’ll be the most proud of for the rest of your life.

We all know this is true because it’s all parents talk about.

“It’s hard but it’s so worth it.”

“It’s the best thing we ever did.”

“You don’t know love until you’ve had a child.”

All true statements. All valid points. I subscribe to them all…but there is something else, something in between that people don’t talk about because for some reason it’s not ok to say it. It’s not ok to say it’s hard and it’s dirty and sometimes you wish you’d never done it because it’s the middle of the night and you’re genuinely weighing up the pros and cons of whether you should throw yourself or your baby out of the window. We can’t say it because people quickly throw the “You’re suffering from post-natal depression” line at you.

No. I’ve been depressed. I know what depression feels like. What this is, is just really hard. It’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do after the most painful thing you’ve ever known and you’ll do it on three minutes of sleep every ten days. If pregnancy was marathon training and you went into birth the fittest and strongest you’ve ever been with a stamina off the scale then I would have reason to believe that there was a God and some sort of planned thought process behind the whole thing. But that’s not what happens.

What happens is, you have the physical shit kicked out of you, you have no time to recover or sleep or adjust to your new status as “Not The Most Important Person In Your Own World”, you may not be able to even walk and for some inexplicable reason someone designed it so that at that very moment you are solely responsible for keeping a very demanding, very gorgeous, very hungry and not-so-sleepy dependant alive.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it and it doesn’t mean I don’t love my daughter…what it means is that we should be honest about this and stop making new mothers feel shit about themselves when they wonder if they’re the only person who ‘can’t do it’, or when they lie awake at night tearing their hair out because their child won’t sleep and every other child in the NCT group is sleeping through (top tip: they’re probably lying about that). We can still say all the other true stuff about how you’ll never feel love like it and how it’s all so worth it but I think we need to be open about the shit stuff too. It has to be hard, it’s supposed to be hard…otherwise it wouldn’t feel so special and so worthwhile and such a motherfunking achievement when you make it through the day and you’re both still alive.

If you think this is a blog about how crappy motherhood is and how much I regret having my daughter then you’ve missed the point entirely. This is a blog about making people laugh; it’s about letting people recognise small pieces or large parts of their experience in someone else’s and thinking, “Oh, thank god! I thought I was the only one.” It’s about finding the humour and the irony in the hardest of situations.

I love the haters because all they do is prove my point: motherhood is enmeshed in a sea of judgement that society not only allows to exist but actually seems to encourage. And if society isn’t judgemental enough then, boy oh boy, mothers themselves are the worst. No one can make you feel worse about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it than a judgemental mother who feels the need to tell you that your experience is wrong.

So, to all you haters, let me introduce you to humour and irony and their good friend sarcasm…because let’s face it, if you can’t have a laugh about how crazy and wonderful and dirty and messy and magical the whole parenthood thing is then where on earth is the fun in that?

2 thoughts on “Loving The Haters

  1. Anonymous says:

    Well said! There are things in your blog (particularly in the post on unconditional love) that I’ve not seen written down before and are just so well articulated and true. In the most challenging days of new motherhood with my first (and this was not PND), I think those words would have really helped as I grappled with feelings of being totally out of my depth, overwhelming responsibility, inadequacy…the list goes on. Mostly that this is a process of falling in love but at the same time you will do ANYTHING for your child. I think for any new Mum, being able to turn to something like this is a refreshing change from the cute baby pics you see on friends’ social media and strap lines like “this is the best feeling in the world”. Of course it is, but what they probably don’t add is that 2 minutes later you’ll need someone to pick you up from the floor as your baby asks for food for the tenth time that hour, you’ve had 5 mins sleep and with the hormones raging, you can’t stop crying.

    Of course, it improves by the day as you get to know your baby…and your new Mum self. Learning that ‘good enough’ is, well, good enough.

    I’ve gone on to have a second and while that creates new challenges, I haven’t experienced anything like the emotional highs and lows I had first time around. I think this is because I was prepared for many of the feelings you describe in this blog, which means when they come I am more relaxed about them, not to mention your (and my) mantra that ‘this too shall pass’. Looking back, I’m not sure this blog would have made the feelings go away, but it would have been a huge reassurance to know that it wasn’t only me.

    Thank you for such refreshing honesty xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simone says:

    I wish the antenatal classes spent more time on the post natal issues. I was lulled into a false security that once baby arrived the world would be a better place. If only you I had a blog like yours to read then! I wouldn’t have felt so inadequate at a time when I was most vulnerable and susceptible to depression.

    Luckily, I had a good support network and an amazing mother who built me up and kept me strong. (Although she did push breast is best which conflicted totally with how she fed me and my brother). I mixed fed breast and formula by the way which helped me pull through.

    I love the honesty in your blogs, I know everyone is different but I think you have hit the nail on the head with alot of issues. I am someone who has to be truthful with my friends. So I have told those about to embark on the wonderful world of motherhood my story with all the ‘bad’ bits. I would have appreciated it much more than ‘oh it’ll be the best days if your life’ tales I was told. Because it is life changing and wonderful when you establish routing and get to know your baby. But there can be very difficult and dark times too, particularly in the beginning when your hormones and body go through massive changes and sleep deprivation is killing you. I remember wanting to put my baby on eBay or in care one night when he wouldn’t stop crying. And then I cried out of guilt and desperation to fix things. It was my baby, why couldn’t I fix things?!

    I am grateful for an honest, open and funny blog to read. I find comfort in it, so thank you Cat! 🙂

    Like

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