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?