First a bit about me. I love a bit about me. I’m quite the over-achiever. And competitive with it too. What a heady combination. When motherhood came along I though ‘Ah HA! Here’s a buncha stuff I can be amazing at!’
Not so dears, not so. Being pregnant was hideous. I did not bloom, I did not glow, I just got FAT. And as a former fat kid (one of the pillars of my identity), being fat was not acceptable. So I worked out. I went to body pump, yoga, swimming, aqua aerobics… But SPD hit so I was fat AND useless and that was uncool. I was confused. I was supposed to look like Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair. So far, so not achieving. The first time I felt E wriggle inside me I was panic-stricken. Waves of nausea and shame washed over me. Not what I was expecting. Seriously failing at this pregnancy business here.
Okay so let’s move through a catalogue of failure from that point on. Traumatic birth by emergency c-section.BFing made me want to throw myself off a bridge, I didn’t bond with my baby the way I was ‘supposed’ to, I dropped him on his head and pretty much hated being a mum (apart from our secret moments when I had nothing to do but just look at his quite-frankly-the-most-gorgeous-of-all-the-baby-faces face).How do you measure parenting success? By keeping spreadsheets of course. Did you know that by monitoring every time you feed your baby (left breast right breast), change his nappy (soiled, wet), put him down, pick him up, cuddle him, look at him you can actually control your environment? HA! HAHAHAAAA! I fell to bits. And I was still fat.
Perhaps my over-achieving personality was not prepared for the UTTER CHAOS that having a baby brings? I felt like I continuously got it wrong and I had no one to tell me that’s how it goes, and that, in fact, is parenting. Once E was old enough I got ‘My Life’ back – I got fit and I started doing a bit of work, which made me feel zingy and fabulous. But I wanted two kids and what was obviously sensible was to have another baby quickly so I could get it out of the way and get back to the attractive and productive identity ASAP.
Parenting two kids has not been easy! E didn’t take well to another addition to the family, mainly because he vibes offa me and I was terrified of how to look after a baby and a big ball of toddler fury. My friends talk me off the ceiling about once a month (I seriously don’t know what I’d do without them). I’ve read a stack of parenting books and still feel inadequate a lot of the time. And I want stuff. I want to work, I want to contribute, I want to be beautiful (thin), I want to be useful, I want to create, I want to have time with friends, with my husband, time to be alone, I want to be a good parent (I’m terrified that I’m not).
About 6 months ago I was surprised to find that I was really angry. Just generally raging. I started seeing a therapist and oh man, it threw up all sorts of stuff! My relationship with my boys, my parents, my family, with myself. It’s been a whirlwind. I’ve never felt happier, but never felt more confused! I’m working it all out, unpicking the knots. But without being a mother I would never have been alerted to any of it.
So, in conclusion (hallelujah!), motherhood has, for me, changed me in a million different ways. And it continues to challenge me and change me every day. It has made me vulnerable for the first time and as a result I’ve had to address every aspect of my being. It focuses me and takes me off course and loses me and finds me, isolates me and connects me to the world. Shoulda probably just written that first.